September: U.S. Department of Defense Casualties Report (2014)

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09/17/2014:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Michael Donahue, 41, Afghanistan, Fort Bragg, North Carolina

09/17/2014:  DoD Identifies DoD Civilian Casualty: Stephen Byus, 39, Afghanistan, Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime, Ohio

09/17/2014:  DoD Identifies Marine Casualty: Charles Strong, 28, Afghanistan, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina

09/05/2014:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Brian Arsenault, 28, Afghanistan, Fort Bragg, North Carolina

Deadly Women Premiered ‘For the Money Honey’ on Investigation Discovery: Kelly Gissendaner & Lover Murdered Army Veteran Doug Gissendaner (September 26, 2014)

Full Episode: For these women, one good man wasn’t enough. An army wife didn’t want a soldier but a squad. -For the Money Honey, Deadly Women (S8, E11)

Army veteran Doug Gissendaner was murdered by his wife Kelly and her lover Gregory Owen in Auburn, Georgia on February 7, 1997. Doug met his wife Kelly in 1989 in Georgia. Kelly was a party girl and had already been married for six months and divorced when she met Doug. She had a child from her previous marriage and Doug welcomed the child with open arms. Within two months, they were married and then Kelly got pregnant. Doug loved being a father, husband, and family man. Then Doug joined the Army and got stationed overseas in Germany. While Doug was away, Kelly resorted to her old ways and started partying at the clubs on base. Kelly loved being on base with soldiers since the military base was a ready supply of men. It was reported that Kelly was so promiscuous on base that eventually she was asked to leave and her and the children were sent back to the United States. In 1991, Doug returned home from his enlistment in the Army. He decided to forgive his wife and they reunited. Shortly after the reunification, Doug learned that Kelly was pregnant with someone else’s child. He was disappointed to say the least as he wanted to keep his family together. Divorce was inevitable. But after three years of being alone, Doug was desperate to be with his family again. The couple remarried and moved in together. Doug put up with Kelly so he could be a family man and provider to the children. Kelly wanted a house so Doug bought her one. What Doug didn’t realize is that Kelly was having an affair with 25 year old Gregory Owen. Kelly approached Owen about three months prior to the murder and asked him to get rid of Doug. Owen didn’t take her seriously initially and suggested she simply divorce him.

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Doug Gissendaner, US Army Veteran

On the day of the murder, Kelly drove Owen to her residence in Auburn where he would wait for Doug with a knife and a nightstick that she provided to him. Kelly went out drinking with her friends to establish an alibi. Owen ambushed Doug when he got home and forced him into his own vehicle. He then took him to a remote wooded area where he forced him on his knees, hit him on the head from behind with the nightstick, and stabbed him in the neck ten times. Owen paged Kelly after he was done. Kelly showed up to the crime scene, demanded to see the body, and used gasoline, an accelerant, to set Doug’s car on fire. Kelly Gissendaner reported Doug missing to the police the following day. Investigators suspected Kelly immediately because they believed she was not being truthful. They found Doug’s body eleven days later. Kelly eventually admitted to police that she was having an affair with Gregory Owen and this tip led investigators to the man who would eventually confess to the murder of Doug Gissendaner. Owen was tormented with guilt and felt manipulated and used. As a result, Owen testified at Kelly’s trial that she wanted to cash in on an insurance policy and become the outright owner of the marital home. In exchange for his testimony, Gregory Owen was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole in twenty-five years. Kelly Gissendaner maintained her innocence but was found guilty of malice murder and sentenced to death in 1998. She lived her prison life in solitary confinement and was executed by the State of Georgia on September 30th, 2015. Kelly Gissendaner wanted things her way no matter the cost and conveniently had her husband killed after he bought her a house.

Investigation Discovery:

ID Go: For these women, one good man wasn’t enough. A middle-aged woman used looks to prey on elderly gentleman; an army wife didn’t want a soldier but a squad; and a serial wife cooks up meals to die for. These Deadly Women married for the money, honey. -For the Money Honey, Deadly Women (S8, E11)

Editor’s note: With a cable subscription, you can download the free ID Go app and watch all of the Investigation Discovery programming at your convenience. And for those who do not have cable, you can watch “unlocked” episodes on the ID Go app including the latest premieres. Download the ID Go app and binge away. For those who prefer commercial free programming during your binge session, Prime Video has an ID channel: ‘True Crime Files by Investigation Discovery” available for $2.99 a month. It’s a compilation of older seasons but totally worth the cost if you are a true crime addict.

Related Links:
Find-A-Grave: Douglas Morgan Gissendaner
Family: Kelly Gissendaner’s murdered husband ‘is the true victim’
Gissendaner v State of Georgia 2000
Kelly Gissendaner execution postponed indefinitely
Sentence upheld against only woman on Georgia’s death row
Georgia’s only female death row inmate to be executed
Only woman on Ga. death row denied clemency, set for execution
Georgia woman’s execution postponed because drugs appeared ‘cloudy’
Kelly Gissendaner: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know
Former Ga. chief justice regrets vote in Gissendaner case
WATCH: Kelly Gissendaner’s 1997 Interview on the Search for Her Husband
Kelly Gissendaner Death Unfair? Boyfriend Gregory Owen Did the Murders, Gets Parole in Eight Years
Georgia Executes Kelly Gissendaner, Renewing Questions About Death Penalty
Kelly Renee Gissendaner got her lover, Gregory Bruce Owen, to kill her husband Doug for the insurance money; She is now on death row
Execution Date Set for Kelly Renee Gissendaner, Convicted of Husband’s Murder
Georgia to execute its first female prisoner in 70 years
Kelly Gissendaner First Woman Executed in Georgia in 70 Years
Children of woman on Ga. death row plead for her life to be spared
Family split over whether Kelly Gissendaner should die tonight
Kelly Gissendaner Left Message for Kids Before Execution Was Postponed
Ga.’s female death row inmate’s last meal request
Georgia death row inmate requests 2 whoppers and more for last meal
Georgia Woman Kelly Gissendaner Sings ‘Amazing Grace’ During Execution
Georgia inmate Kelly Gissendaner executed after failed appeals
Georgia executes Kelly Gissendaner after Supreme Court denies stay requests
Kelly Gissendaner Executed in Georgia After Courts Deny Stay Requests
Kelly Gissendaner executed for planning husband’s murder as man who killed him escapes death sentence
She sang Amazing Grace then the drugs took hold and she stuttered into silence: As the state of Georgia executes its first woman for 70 years, a chilling dispatch from inside the chamber
Georgia executes Kelly Gissendaner, despite plea from Pope Francis
Detective recounts how he put Kelly Gissendaner on death row
The Premeditated Murder of Kelly Gissendaner
Justice has different meanings for Kelly Gissendaner’s family
Profile of Husband Killer Kelly Gissendaner
First We’ll Kill My Husband by Lyn Riddle (Amazon)
Review of First We’ll Kill My Husband
Kelly Renee Gissendaner Documentary – Female Killers | Deadly Women (S8, E11)
For the Money Honey | Deadly Women | Investigation Discovery (S8, E11)
Army Veteran Doug Gissendaner Murdered for Marital Home & Life Insurance; Wife Kelly Sentenced to Death & in 2015 Executed in Georgia (February 7, 1997)

California National Guard Military Sexual Assault Bill Becomes Law

National GuardA new law passed today removes sexual assault investigations and prosecutions from the military chain of command.

California has just made a major change in the way sexual assault allegations are investigated in the state military department. On Thursday, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that requires sexual assault cases to be investigated by outside civilian law enforcement, not by military commanders.

Read more here.

Related link: Military Women: We Got Fired for Being Rape

United States Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals Overturns the Sentence of Lackland Basic Military Training Instructor SSgt Eddy Soto (2014)

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SSgt Eddy Soto, US Air Force

“Soto faced as much as life without parole for the rape, one of six charges and eight specifications of misconduct.” -My SA

SSgt Eddy Soto was a basic military training instructor at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. Soto was one of the 35 instructors courts martialed in what is referred to as the Lackland Sex Scandal. SSgt Soto was accused of unprofessional relationships, adultery, and the rape of one airman whom it appeared he had a relationship with. Investigators learned of the relationship Soto had with the airman who accused him of rape as part of a widespread probe into MTI misconduct. Soto faced life without parole but prosecutors asked for 12-15 years. Soto pleaded guilty to five charges and admitted that he had unprofessional relationships with a trainee and a civilian who had come to the base to see her husband graduate from basic training. He also admitted to adultery charges but he denied the rape accusation. He was convicted and sentenced to four years in prison in March 2013. After his confinement ended, he would be dishonorably discharged from the Air Force. Soto was the second instructor convicted of rape in the scandal. SSgt Luis Walker was the first conviction and he received 20 years for the rape of one airman and sexual assault of several others.

In an exceptional ruling by the Air Force Criminal Court of Appeals, Soto’s conviction for rape was overturned in Sept 2014. The military appeals court ruled the evidence was “factually insufficient” to support the conviction. In other words, there wasn’t enough evidence to find him guilty in the first place. The appeals court upheld the lesser charges of unprofessional relationships, adultery, and false official statement. The judge ruled the four year sentence and dishonorable discharge should be set aside and the case was referred back to the convening authority who had the authority to hold a new sentencing hearing. Soto remained jailed at the Naval Consolidated Brig Miramar in California while the government decided whether to ask the appeals court to reconsider their ruling. SSgt Eddy Soto served over a year and a half for a rape conviction that lacked evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. Media reports stated Soto would be re-sentenced by a lower court for unprofessional relationships, adultery, and false official statement. Further on-line research did not find evidence of the final disposition of SSgt Soto’s case. We do not know if he was re-sentenced, released from prison and when, or if he was discharged from the military.

The findings of guilty for Charge III, Specification 1 are set aside and dismissed. The remaining findings of guilty are affirmed. The sentence is set aside. The record of trial is returned to The Judge Advocate General for remand to an appropriate convening authority who may order a rehearing to determine an appropriate sentence for the affirmed findings of guilty. If the convening authority determines that a rehearing on the sentence is impracticable, the convening authority may approve a sentence of “no punishment” or dismiss the remaining charges and specifications. –USAF Court of Criminal Appeals

Related Links:
General admits failure in Lackland sex scandal; 32 alleged culprits
Cross-Cultural Expert Brought In For Lackland Court-Martial
Lackland trainer handed 4 years in rape
Lackland sergeant found guilty in rape case
Air Force instructor gets 4 years for raping trainee
Air Force trainer convicted of raping ex-trainee
Air Force trainer found guilty of raping cadet in Lackland base abuse scandal
US v. SSgt EDDY C. SOTO, US Air Force, ACM 38422, 16 September 2014
Court throws out Lackland trainer’s rape conviction (San Antonio Express)
Court throws out Lackland trainer’s rape conviction (Stars & Stripes)
Air Force appeals court tosses MTI rape conviction
Military overturns Lackland Air Force Base rape conviction
SSgt Eddy Soto Court-Martial Conviction for Rape Set Aside by Air Force Appellate Court
The Lackland Air Force Base Sex Scandal, Texas (2011)
A Complete List of the 35 Basic Military Training Instructors Court Martialed in the Lackland Air Force Base Sex Scandal

SSG Virginia Caballero, US Army Reserve, Died on Plane Enroute from a Deployment in Kuwait, Family Received Conflicting Accounts of Cause of Death (2014)

If you have any information that could help this family find answers, please contact us at militaryjusticeforall@gmail.com. Thank you.

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SSG Virginia Caballero, US Army Reserves (2014)

Honoring SSG Virginia Caballero, US Army Reserves, who became ill while en-route from Kuwait and then died unexpectedly shortly thereafter at a hospital in Rockford, Illinois on September 13, 2014. Apparently the commercial plane needed fuel and/or had to do an emergency landing for Virginia in Rockford, Illinois. It appears that they were on their way to Fort McCoy in Wisconsin. According to reports, Caballero was a Reservist stationed with the 452nd Combat Support Hospital, 330th Medical Brigade out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin but trained at Fort McCoy prior to her deployment to Kuwait.  She served in Kuwait for roughly eight months and for some reason was coming home a month early with a high ranking travel companion. Media reports claim she wanted to surprise her family in Texas. It is believed Caballero suffered from a blood clot which was exacerbated with the altitude on the flight. She was not listed as a non-combat death by the Department of Defense but this would in fact be considered a non-combat death due to medical. The family admits in newspaper articles that a lot of the details are sketchy.

Here are the questions we have after combing through the below articles. Why was she coming home a month early accompanied by a high ranking travel companion if she was going to surprise her family? Did something happen in country prior to her boarding that plane? Was this an early surprise for family in Texas or an expedited transfer from Kuwait back to the states? The military isn’t in the business of assigning high ranking travel companions unless there is an issue. Were there any concerns about medical health prior to boarding the plane? Where were they flying to? Rockford, Illinois is only a couple hour drive from Fort McCoy. Why did they not land the plane sooner at a larger airport like Chicago when the medical issues began to develop or the fuel began to get low? Why did the DoD not send out an official notification of non-combat death considering she was on active duty orders in support of war efforts in Kuwait? Criminal Investigation Division (CID) was assigned to investigate the cause of death of Virginia. The family was asked to submit a FOIA request for the results of the investigation.

Related Links:
Army Soldier Reflects on Life Overseas and Time Back Home
Lubbock movers reach out to help purple heart recipient
Soldier flying home to surprise family in Texas dies en route
Decorated soldier flying home to surprise family in Abernathy dies en route
Local Purple Heart Recipient Died While On Active Duty
Purple heart recipient’s body to arrive in Lubbock on Saturday
Family, friends remember Virginia Caballero as Veterans Day approaches
The Heart of a Soldier: Sergeant earns hero’s salute from hometown
USAR SSG Virginia Caballero, 41 (Noonie Fortin)
Non Combat Deaths of Female Soldiers in the US Military (Other Areas)
Tribute to SSG Virginia Caballero from her Family
Abell Funeral Home Tribute to Virginia Caballero

Lackland Basic Military Training Instructor, SSgt Luis Walker, Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison for Rape & Sexual Assault, Commits Suicide at Leavenworth

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SSgt Luis Walker, US Air Force

SSgt Luis Walker was a basic training instructor at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. After an investigation into allegations of improper relationships and abuse of power at the training facility in 2011, SSgt Walker was charged with sexual assault. One of his victims stated under sworn testimony that he had raped her. As a result of the courts martial, he was found guilty and sentenced to 20 years in prison as opposed to the original life sentence he was faced with. Shortly after the conviction, his wife spoke out publicly claiming that her husband was innocent and that he did not get a fair trial. SSgt Walker also echoed those sentiments when asked for a statement from the Air Force Times (see quote). A few months later, one of the victims in the trial went public with her story. Virginia Messick shared that she was raped by SSgt Walker and that it was a harrowing experience. She also later reported that she was facing battles trying to get disability benefits for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from the Department of Veterans Affairs. SSgt Walker’s attempt to overturn the sexual assault conviction on appeal were eventually denied. It was only a few months later that he would be found dead in his cell at Fort Leavenworth from an apparent suicide.

“These setbacks have discouraged me and at times I have wanted to give up, but because of my family, I can not. I am a human being and an American, I deserve the right to a fair trial. There has been a lot of focus on the number of alleged victims in my case, instead of the charges against me, when in fact each charge should stand on its own.” -SSgt Luis Walker (Air Force Times, June 2014)

Lackland Air Force instructor faces sexual assault charges
Air Force sex scandal: Court-martial begins for Texas instructor
Woman says Lackland Air Force Base trainer attacked her
Drill sergeant texted explicit photos, U.S. Air Force trainee tells court
Four women testify in growing Air Force sex scandal
Sergeant charged in Air Force sex scandal a “predator”: Prosecutor
Air Force instructor convicted of rape in wide sexual misconduct investigation
Air Force Staff Sgt. Luis Walker guilty
Air Force instructor convicted of rape asks for leniency
Convicted Air Force Instructor Gets Twenty Years
Disgraced Air Force instructor sentenced to 20 years in sex scandal
SSgt Luis Walker, One Of The Lackland Air Force Rapists, Sentenced To 20 Years In Prison
Air Force instructor sentenced to 20 years in prison after raping female recruit and sexually assaulting several other women
Wife of Staff Sgt. Luis Walker: My husband is innocent
Release Of Former SSGT Luis Walker (Petition)
Lackland Rape Scandal Shines Spotlight On Military Failure
Lackland fallout: Rape victim turned whistleblower calls for congressional hearings
Attacked at 19 by an Air Force Trainer, and Speaking Out
Lackland Air Force Base Rape Victim Talks of Ordeal
A victim in the Air Force rape scandal breaks her silence
Survivor of sexual violence at Lackland Air Force Base speaks out
Lackland instructor’s victim speaks of trauma, fear
Lackland sex scandal prompts U.S. Air Force to discipline former commanders
Edward Rice, AF general who handled Lackland instructor scandals, retires
GI sex-assault victims face battle for disability benefits
United States vs SSgt Luis Walker, US Air Force (Court of Criminal Appeals)
Ex-Lackland instructor dead in apparent suicide
Ex-Air Force instructor in prison for sex assault dies
Convicted Rapist Found Dead in Cell at Leavenworth Disciplinary Barracks
Results unclear for new sex assault safeguards at Air Force facilities
The Lackland Air Force Base Sex Scandal, Texas (2011)
A Complete List of the 35 Basic Military Training Instructors Court Martialed in the Lackland Air Force Base Sex Scandal