On February 28, 2003, SSgt Shelby Dawn Orelup, US Air Force, 22, was found dead in a drainage ditch on the Access Road at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas. She was beaten, sodomized and raped before she was strangled according to an autopsy report. Investigators believe that she was murdered at a different location and her body was dumped near the base. Orelup was a mother to a two year old and a fuels instructor with the 366th Training Squadron at the base. She wanted to go to law school and become an attorney. Orelup formed a relationship with SSgt Phillip Arindain at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England in 2002. Although they were at different bases stateside stationed six hours apart, they maintained a long distance relationship. Arindain was stationed at Cannon Air Force Base in New Mexico. He was married with one child. Shelby’s family felt like he was nice at first but he started to become possessive and controlling of Shelby. She broke things off with him a few months later.
The FBI, Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI), and the Wichita Police Department worked on the investigation. Investigators learned that two weeks before Arindain murdered Shelby she asked him to watch her daughter and he brought her daughter back on February 27th. They also learned the motive was Arindain suspected she was seeing someone. In August 2003, SSgt Arindain was arrested and charged with Shelby’s murder. He was held at the Wichita County Jail because Sheppard AFB does not have a detention facility. He was charged under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and the Air Force stated they were not going to seek the death penalty. In 2004, Arindain was convicted of unpremeditated murder in a general courts martial at Sheppard AFB. He was found innocent on the charges of felony murder, rape and forcible sodomy. He received a life sentence with the possibility of parole and was dishonorably discharged from the Air Force. Judge, Colonel Mary Boone said that it is unclear when Arindain will eligible for parole.
“Shelby lived her life at 110 percent. She gave 110 percent to the military, she gave 110 percent to her family and friends and to her daughter, Orelup said. I feel that just punishment for him would have been life without parole because he needed to give 110 percent for killing her.” -Shirley Orelup (Shelby’s Mom)
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