Vigil being held for AZ teacher believed to be dead after week-long search

Sister of Palm Springs firefighter presumed dead

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - A vigil is being held Saturday night in Arizona for the 44-year-old sister of a Palm Springs Firefighter. 

Cathryn Gorospe went missing about one week ago, and Friday, police said they had found the remains of a woman believed to be Gorospe. 

While police have not yet positively identified the body as Gorospe's, the school district where Gorospe was a kindergarten teacher issued a statement mourning her death. 



It read: 

We are deeply saddened to learn of the death of our Arrowhead Teacher Cathryn Gorospe.

Cathryn’s friends and colleagues at Arrowhead Elementary School and throughout the Deer Valley Unified School District had hoped and prayed for a different outcome.

During this difficult time, we feel fortunate to belong to a school and district family where we support and take care of each other.

Our District crisis flight team of counselors and psychologists will be at the school Monday to provide assistance and support to Ms. Gorospe’s students, as well as all of our Arrowhead students and staff.

Our thoughts and deepest condolences go out Cathryn’s family, friends, and colleagues.

Those attending the vigil Saturday night are encouraged to wear green, Cathryn's favorite color. 
Our affiliate, ABC 15 in Phoenix, is covering the vigil.



The Search

Police in Flagstaff say Gorospe went missing a week ago when she posted bond for a man she'd had a romantic relationship with. Gorospe hadn't been seen since posting bond for 27-year-old Charlie Malzahn.
Malzahn had been jailed since Aug. 20 on charges of theft of a means of transportation, being a prohibited possessor of a gun and possessing a gun during the commission of a felony.

The woman's vehicle was spotted early Monday in Phoenix. Malzahn was arrested after he crashed the SUV following a police pursuit.  Authorities say Malzahn would not tell investigators about the woman's whereabouts.

"From what I have been told, Cathryn was an avid hiker, and loves the rural nature of northern Arizona," explained Flagstaff Police Dept. Sgt. Cory Runge.  "She had moved to Williams during the summer, and from what he has learned, that's where she and Charlie met this summer."

Malzahn was also caught using Gorospe's credit cards near the New Mexico border on Saturday, a day before her roommate reporter her missing.

Flagstaff police wouldn't say where the body was found or what the cause of death was, but Flagstaff Police Dept. Sgt. Cory Runge said, "Initially this does appear to be a homicide investigation versus natural causes or an accident."  An autopsy is pending.

"The Flagstaff Police Department would like to express our condolences to her family and thank the public for their patience and assistance during the search for Cathryn," said Runge.

Gorospe's brother, Palm Springs Fire Captain Cory Gorospe, traveled with family and fellow firefighters to Arizona to help search for her. He talked with KESQ News Channel 3/CBS Local 2 and our affiliates in Arizona. "My sister had a big heart, she was trying to help out," Cory Gorospe said, "She wanted to help someone who was having a hard time because she believed it was the way to help him turn his life around." 

The Gorospe Family released this statement Saturday night: 

"On behalf of the Gorospe family we would like to thank everyone for their prayers, thoughts and support through this difficult time. We would especially like to thank Det. Casey Rucker and his team for the hard work in locating Cathryn and bringing our family peace. We would also like to thank the Williams Police Department and community for their support. To all the off-duty police and firefighters that came to help our efforts, we would not have been able to do any of this without you." 

Malzahn remains in custody but has not charged in Gorospe's disappearance. 

Stay with CBS Local 2 and KESQ for more information on this developing story.

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