It has been three weeks since the body of 27-year-old Jonathan Hayes was found a few miles west of Dolores and one family member spoke out recently about the kind of man he was and how the family is dealing with their grief.
It is difficult to realize that our loved one will no longer be present physically to share conversation, walks, hugs or ideas with us. It is such a great loss because it involves losing a piece of yourself, a part that was a very important part of your life. Everyone and everything we love becomes a part of us, said Desirae Benally.
Benally and Hayes were cousins.
We grew up together, Benally said. We were very close, I thought of him as a brother, not a cousin.
Benally said Hayes, who grew up in Dolores, spent lots of time with his grandparents in New Mexico and went to high school in Nucla, was liked by everyone he met.
He never had enemies, Benally said. He was very outgoing and well spoken.
Hayes was tall, 6-foot-4, and enjoyed the outdoors. Hayes worked at a local sawmill and spent a lot of time painting and sketching, hiking, fishing and swimming in the Dolores River.
He was a really good uncle, Benally said.
It is going to be hard this summer when Benally realizes her fishing and swimming partner is gone, she said.
We lost a piece of ourselves, Benally said. He had his own special connection with each family member. Jonathan was a very loving person. I feel so lonely without him.
Hayes was well known for his style. He would often dye his hair different colors from blue to pink.
He dyed his hair a lot. He was very punk rock, Benally said.
In fact, Benally and her sister dyed their hair in honor of their cousin on Wednesday.
Im dyeing mine red, blue and purple, she said.
Benally said she will attend court hearings to see justice done. Currently, Luther Hampson, 26, is being held on first degree-murder charges of Hayes.
The crime has been called violent by the District Attorney.
I have no idea what the motive will be because he was loving and caring, Benally said. I have never seen him upset, angry or depressed. He always put people before him.