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Suspect in Aurora AMBER Alert pleads guilty to drug charges in Utah

Navarro Cathey waived extradition, but it is unclear when he might return to Colorado.

SEVIER COUNTY, Utah — The California man who was arrested in Utah in connection with a November AMBER Alert involving an Aurora girl pleaded guilty Tuesday to drug charges which resulted from a traffic stop related to the girl's disappearance, according to court testimony.

During a hearing Tuesday in Sevier County, Utah, Navarro Cathey pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count related to the possession or use of methamphetamine. As part of the plea, Cathey waived extradition to Colorado and two other counts were dismissed.

He's set for sentencing in Utah on Jan. 4, and a review of his extradition is set for that same time. Cathey faces up to one year in jail, according to the court record.

RELATED: Man sent cellphone to Aurora girl a week before she disappeared, affidavit says

It's not clear when he might return to Colorado, where he faces the following charges related to the disappearance of a 13-year-old Aurora girl just before Thanksgiving.

  • Sexual exploitation of a child
  • Internet luring of a child
  • Internet exploitation of a child
Credit: Aurora Police Department
Navarro Cathey

The girl was reported missing on Nov. 23 from her Aurora home by her mother, who said she was last seen around 2 p.m., Aurora Police said.

A week prior, on Nov. 16, the girl's mother confronted her about a package she received that contained a cellphone, that affidavit says. That resulted in a fight between them and her mother eventually contacting police, the affidavit says.

The mom reported to police that her daughter had received a cellphone from an "unknown person" whom she had been talking to over the internet, the affidavit says.

The girl's mom said she would give police information about her daughter's social media accounts and emails, as well as information about the Amazon package sent to her daughter, according to the affidavit.

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On Nov. 23, the girl's mom notified police that her daughter was missing. At that time, detectives were provided with a string of emails between the girl and the suspect, who identified himself as Nathaniel McKinley in the emails and said he was 28.

According to the affidavit, the conversations "quickly" became sexual in nature, and the man arranged to meet the girl, who said in the email exchanges that she was 13.

Investigators reached out to Amazon about the package that was sent to the girl and determined which account purchased the phone, the affidavit says. That led them to Cathey, whose middle name is Nathaniel. From there, detectives found a vehicle registered to him and learned that a Vail police officer had run the plate for it at about 7:30 a.m. Nov. 24.

Once an AMBER Alert was issued for the girl, detectives received tips that a vehicle matching that description was seen leaving the neighborhood where the girl lives, the affidavit says.

Officers responded to the tipster's home and were able to find a video of the car driving in the area and then parking near the girl's home, the affidavit says. A short time later, a female was seen in the video exiting the home and getting into the vehicle, according to the affidavit.

The approximate time stamp on the video roughly matched the time when the girl's mother noticed her daughter was missing from the backyard, the affidavit says.

An emergency ping was done on Cathey's cellphone, which showed him to be in Utah, which is where he was eventually arrested, according to the affidavit. Several tips also came in from people who reported that they had seen the vehicle earlier in the day on Interstate 70.

About 4:40 p.m. Nov. 24, Aurora Police were notified by the Utah Highway Patrol (UHP) that they had stopped the vehicle and that Cathey was in custody. UHP said the girl was safe and had been found under some blankets in the back seat of the car, the affidavit says.

It was during that traffic stop that drugs were found, according to testimony from Tuesday's hearing. Cathey remains in custody in the Sevier County jail in Utah.