Forbidden, Dying for Love: Six Active-Duty Military Homicide Cases Featured on Investigation Discovery

An Officer, Not a Gentleman:

ID Go: A Filipino woman falls for a married US Navy Officer who will do anything to keep his mistress and his money. -An Officer, Not a Gentleman, Forbidden: Dying for Love (S1,E4)

Forbidden, Dying for Love Premiered ‘An Officer, Not a Gentleman’ on ID: Navy Chief John Bench Chooses Adultery & Murder Over Divorce (January 22, 2016)

The Sergeant and the School Girl:

ID Go: When high school senior Michelle Miller joins the Future Soldiers program, she sees it as the first step to realizing her dream of enlisting in the Army. But a forbidden affair with her recruiter risks her career in the Army, and her future itself. -The Sergeant and the Schoolgirl, Forbidden: Dying for Love (S2,E1)

Forbidden, Dying for Love Premiered ‘The Sergeant & the Schoolgirl’ on ID: Army Reserve Recruiter Adam Arndt Preys On & Seduces 17-Year-Old Student (January 6, 2017)

The Girl with the Gold Earring:

ID Go: A young mom falls for a married military man after a chance meeting at his naval base. -The Girl with the Gold Earring, Forbidden: Dying for Love (S2,E8)

Forbidden, Dying for Love Premiered ‘The Girl with the Gold Earring’ on ID: Navy Sailor Zachary Littleton Murders to Hide Adultery (February 24, 2017)

Love is a Battlefield:

ID Go: A young Army recruit enlists with dreams of serving her country. What she doesn’t expect is to find love with a commanding officer in her platoon. The two battle to keep their forbidden affair secret but can they defeat the enemy within? -Love is a Battlefield, Forbidden: Dying for Love (S3, E1)

Forbidden, Dying for Love Premiered ‘Love is a Battlefield’ on Investigation Discovery: Army Spc. Kamisha Block Dies in Murder-Suicide in Iraq (March 13, 2018)

Onward, Christian Soldier:

ID Go: While her husband serves in the army, a lonely married mother of three finds comfort in the arms of her church’s charismatic new minister. But danger looms in the form of a jealous love-rival that will stop at nothing to scare her away. -Onward, Christian Soldier, Forbidden: Dying for Love (S4,E4)

Forbidden, Dying for Love Premiered ‘Onward, Christian Soldier’ on ID: Fort Bragg Army MSgt William Wright Admitted Murdering Wife (June 29, 2019)

Love is War:

ID Go: A decorated marine faces war at home when he falls for a married woman. Suspicion and jealousy plague their affair as they battle to keep their secret from their spouses but with the stakes so high it’s a truth they’ll stop at nothing to hide. -Love is War, Forbidden: Dying for Love (S4,E8)

Forbidden, Dying for Love Premiered ‘Love is War’ on Investigation Discovery: Marine Archie O’Neil Jr. Shoots Mistress at Camp Pendleton After Fight (July 27, 2019)

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:
An Officer, Not a Gentleman | Forbidden: Dying for Love | Investigation Discovery (S1,E4)
An Officer, Not a Gentleman | Forbidden: Dying for Love | Investigation Discovery (website)
An Officer, Not a Gentleman | Forbidden: Dying for Love | Investigation Discovery (Amazon)
The Sergeant & the Schoolgirl | Forbidden: Dying for Love | Investigation Discovery (S2,E1)
The Sergeant & the Schoolgirl | Forbidden: Dying for Love | Investigation Discovery (website)
The Sergeant & the Schoolgirl | Forbidden: Dying for Love | Investigation Discovery (Amazon)
An Officer, Not a Gentleman | Forbidden: Dying for Love | Investigation Discovery (S1,E4)
An Officer, Not a Gentleman | Forbidden: Dying for Love | Investigation Discovery (website)
An Officer, Not a Gentleman | Forbidden: Dying for Love | Investigation Discovery (Amazon)
Love is a Battlefield | Forbidden: Dying for Love | Investigation Discovery (S3, E1)
Love is a Battlefield | Forbidden: Dying for Love | Investigation Discovery (website)
Love is a Battlefield | Forbidden: Dying for Love | Investigation Discovery (Amazon)
Onward, Christian Soldier | Forbidden: Dying for Love | Investigation Discovery (S4,E4)
Onward, Christian Soldier | Forbidden: Dying for Love | Investigation Discovery (website)
Onward, Christian Soldier | Forbidden: Dying for Love | Investigation Discovery (Amazon)
Love is War | Forbidden: Dying for Love | Investigation Discovery (S4,E8)
Love is War | Forbidden: Dying for Love | Investigation Discovery (website)
Love is War | Forbidden: Dying for Love | Investigation Discovery (Amazon)

Ark-La-Tex: Barksdale Air Force Base Commander Addresses Homicides of Five Airmen or Spouses in Less Than a Year (July 17, 2019)

USAF Seal

“The commander of the 2nd Bomb Wing at Barksdale Air Force Base issued a statement Wednesday afternoon expressing deep concern for the safety of the military members and their families assigned to BAFB in light of the recent murders of five Barksdale Airmen and/or their spouses. ‘I’ve been stationed at eight installations in my 25-year Air Force career and I have never experienced as many murders involving Airmen and their families,’ said Air Force Col. Michael A. Miller.” Read more from Ark-La-Tex here.

  • TSgt Joshua Kidd, U.S. Air Force: died September 25, 2018, murdered outside home, DNA links two teens to murder, Jareona Crosby and Alonzo Wilson charged with second degree murder, awaiting trial
  • TSgt Kelly Jose, U.S. Air Force Reserve and spouse Heather Jose: died November 8, 2018, murdered after giving a guy they met at the shopping mall a ride, found slain in a burned out car, Dewayne Willie Watkins, 34, was indicted in connection with the robbery, kidnapping, and murder, charged with two counts of second degree murder, state seeking the death penalty
  • Antonio Williams (spouse of civil servant Airman Ivy Shelby-Williams): died June 22, 2019, gunned down while delivering mail to Michael Gentry at his home in Shreveport’s South Highlands neighborhood, Michael Gentry, 32, arrested after the shooting & charged with second-degree murder
  • TSgt Perry Bailey, U.S. Air Force: died June 30, 2019, murdered in Shreveport residence, the female homeowner said her former boyfriend, Brandan Brown, broke into the residence through the master bedroom window and shot her current boyfriend Perry Bailey, Brown died by suicide

Related Links:
Barksdale Commander Expresses Concern About Recent Airmen Deaths
BAFB commander addresses homicides of five airmen or spouses in less than a year

Marine Corps LCpl Riley Schultz Found Dead at Camp Pendleton Entry Control Point; Death Ruled Suicide by Self-Inflicted Gunshot Wound But Family Disputes Findings (March 15, 2019)

U.S. Marine Riley Schultz

Lance Corporal Riley Schultz, U.S. Marine Corps

In the early morning hours of March 15, 2019, Marine Corps Lance Corporal Riley Schultz was found dead near a guard shack with a gunshot wound in his head. Nineteen-year-old Lance Corporal Schultz was on guard duty at Camp Pendleton in California when this tragic incident occurred. Riley was discovered by a Marine who was assigned to replace him at this entry control point. The Naval Criminal Investigative Services (NCIS) were assigned to investigate Riley’s suspicious death but their investigation appeared to conclude when the medical examiner ruled that Lance Corporal Riley Schultz died by suicide via a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Riley’s family isn’t going to simply accept the outcome of the investigation. His family knows him better than anyone and his brother said Riley was the happiest he had ever been. Riley’s mom told the press that becoming a Marine was his dream and he worked hard and prepared for his enlistment before joining the USMC at the age of 17. Riley’s mom said he loved being a Marine and things were going well in his personal life when he died. Although this investigation appears to be an open and closed case with the Marine Corps, Riley’s family disputes the cause of death and plans to continue to fight for justice for Riley.

In the News:

The Marine from Colorado found dead at a Southern California base earlier this month died by suicide, according to 1st Lt. Cameron Edinburgh, a Marine Corps spokesperson. Rob Low reports. -FOX31 Denver (March 27, 2019)

The Navy is investigating after a Marine from Colorado was shot to death while on guard duty at Southern California’s Camp Pendleton. -CBS Denver (March 27, 2019)

Lance Cpl. Riley Schultz was discovered dead around 4 a.m. March 15 with a gunshot wound to the head. -Denver7 – The Denver Channel (March 27, 2019)

Related Links:
Lance Cpl. Riley Schultz From Longmont Killed While On Duty At Camp Pendleton
Marine Found Dead at Camp Pendleton Guard Post from Gunshot Wound to Head
Riley Schultz, Marine, shot dead while on guard duty at Camp Pendleton
Marine shot, killed while on guard duty at California base
Marine Shot, Killed While on Guard Duty at California Base
Colorado Marine shot, killed while on guard duty at California base
Marine from Colorado shot, killed while on guard duty at California base
Marine’s shooting death at Camp Pendleton guard post under investigation
Medical Examiner: Marine From Colorado Died By Suicide
19-Year-Old Marine Found Dead at Camp Pendleton Killed Himself: Officials
Death of Marine shot while on guard duty at Camp Pendleton ruled a suicide
Colorado Marine’s family not convinced death was a suicide
Family Convinced Marine’s Death at Camp Pendleton Was Not Suicide
Family of Camp Pendleton Marine disputes suicide ruling despite Marine Corps findings
Marine From Longmont Shot, Killed While on Duty At Camp Pendleton
Marine killed while on guard duty at California base; services to be held in Colorado
Longmont Marine took his own life
Violent Crime, Non Combat Death, and Suicide at Camp Pendleton, California (USMC)
Lance Cpl Riley Schultz, age 19 | Gun Memorial

Tennessee Judge Ruled Teenager Jacob Kinney Acted in Self-Defense When He Fatally Shot Fort Campbell Army Pfc. MarStratton Gordon (November 7, 2018)

Screen Shot 2017-08-26 at 3.20.28 PM

Pfc. MarStratton Gordon, US Army

A fifteen year old teenager Jacob Kinney was arrested and charged with the fatal shooting of Army Pfc. MarStratton Gordon, 23, on August 28, 2016 in Harriman, Tennessee. Pfc. MarStratton was in Tennessee on leave visiting his girlfriend at the time of the shooting. Pfc. MarStratton enlisted in the Army in November 2014 and was most recently assigned as a heavy truck driver with the 101st Sustainment Brigade at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.  WATE reported that court documents allege Jacob Kinney shot Pfc. Gordon in the head with a .357 round after a fight broke out between Gordon and his girlfriend, Kinney’s sister. The documents say Jacob pointed the weapon at Pfc. Gordon and fired one round which hit him in the left cheek, killing him. Also reported was after the shooting, a judge ordered the teen to undergo an evaluation and treatment at a mental health facility to determine his competency and IQ. Jacob Kinney has been charged with delinquent second degree murder and the Roane County prosecutors announced that they will try him as an adult. His bond was set at $50,000. On November 7, 2018, a Tennessee judged ruled Jacob Kinney acted in self-defense and dismissed the reckless homicide charges.

Related Links:
Veterans React To Opening Of Combat Roles To Women
Funeral honors Blount Co. soldier killed in Harriman
Blount County soldier killed in Harriman altercation
Fort Campbell soldier shot, killed in East TN
Police: Fort Campbell soldier killed Sunday in Roane County
Harriman Teen Suspected In Shooting Death Of 23-Year Old U.S. Army Officer
Fort Campbell soldier shot, killed by teen in East TN
Fort Campbell soldier killed by 15-year-old while on leave
Authorities investigating shooting of soldier by 15-year-old in Harriman
Authorities: Teen accused in petition of murder
Teen accused of shooting, killing US Army soldier
Harriman teen accused of shooting, killing U.S. Army soldier
Harriman teen charged in shooting death of U.S. Army Soldier
Teen charged in shooting death of Fort Campbell soldier
15-Year-Old Accused of Killing Soldier Charged with Delinquent 2nd Degree Murder
Bond set at $50K for Harriman teen charged in soldier’s death
Bond Set for Harriman Teen Who Shot and Killed Soldier
Argument takes deadly turn
Roane teen shot soldier assaulting his sister, records show
Mental evaluation ordered for Harriman teen accused of shooting, killing soldier
Harriman teen accused of killing U.S. Army soldier to be tried as adult
Roane County Teen to be Tried as an Adult for Murder of Soldier
Mother of soldier killed in Roane County seeks justice
Homicide Charge Against Roane Co. Teen Moved Back to Juvenile Court
Roane teen shot soldier assaulting his sister, records show
Roane teen charged with killing Fort Campbell soldier wants case thrown out
Kinney reckless homicide case dismissed
Violent Crime, Suicide & Non Combat Death at Fort Campbell, Kentucky

Scorned, Love Kills: 6 Active Duty Military Homicide Cases Featured on Investigation Discovery

Preview: An Army Major lay lifeless in his bed, shot twice at close range while sleeping next to his wife. Investigators would soon uncover an intricately planned murder plot involving sex parties, adultery and coercion. -Behind the Picket Fence, Scorned: Love Kills (S1, E1)

Army Major David Shannon Fatally Shot by Step Daughter Elizabeth While Sleeping in N.C. Home; Wife Joan Shannon Guilty of Conspiracy, Sentenced to Life, No Parole (July 23, 2002)

The young and wild Monique Wallace is married to 40-year-old Paul Berkley, a navy reservist and father of two in suburban North Carolina. But with Paul leaving on a mission overseas, temptation and lust will lead them all down a dark path to murder. -Rules of Engagement, Scorned: Love Kills (S2, E7)

Navy Reservist Paul Berkley Murdered by Wife Monique & Friends in North Carolina while Home on Leave from Middle East, SGLI was the Motive (December 18, 2005)

Fred and Jennifer have a picture perfect marriage. But when Fred meets Danielle, a young doctor in the Navy, Jennifer fights to keep Fred for herself. The love triangle explodes, leaving police struggling to understand a grisly crime scene. -Naval Affairs, Scorned: Love Kills (S3, E1)

Navy Lt CDR Fred Trayers Fatally Stabbed by Jealous Wife Angered by Infidelity with Fellow Navy Doctor; Jennifer Trayers Sentenced to 16 Years to Life (December 4, 2010)

Sexy psychologist and doting Air Force wife Michelle begins a swinging affair with Army Sgt. Diamond while her husband, Captain Marty Theer, is away. But all’s fair in love and war, and Marty’s return will remind them that love is a battlefield. -Sergeant Swinger, Scorned: Love Kills (S4, E1)

Air Force Capt. Frank ‘Marty’ Theer Murdered by Wife Michelle & Army SSG John Diamond in North Carolina; Both Sentenced to Life in Prison (December 17, 2000)

American soldier Megan Touma has left her husband for her lover Edgar. Turns out Edgar has a spouse of his own. When Megan gets pregnant Edgar must make a decision between two women. Someone will be left brokenhearted and someone will be left dead. -Love is a Battlefield, Scorned: Love Kills (S5, E2)

Fort Bragg Army Soldier Edgar Patino Murdered Army Specialist Megan Touma & Unborn Son After Argument, Sentenced to 16-20 Years in Prison (June 21, 2008)

Preview: While Kathy Lipscomb spends late nights at the hospital with the handsome Dr. Pearle, her husband’s career in the Air Force is taking off, but so is his relationship with a hot young officer. When the affairs are exposed the consequences are fatal. -Sex, Secrets & Sergeants, Scorned: Love Kills (S5, E5)

Air Force MSgt William Lipscomb Murdered his Wife Kathleen After She Threatened to Expose his WAPS Promotion Cheating Scam (June 9, 1986)

Editor’s note: With a cable subscription, you can download the free ID Go app and watch 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. 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 $3.99 a month. It’s a compilation of older seasons but totally worth the cost if you are a true crime addict. Download the ID Go app or purchase ID True Crime Files & binge away.

Related Links:
About the Show | Scorned: Love Kills | Investigation Discovery
The Swinger Marriage | Scorned: Love Kills (Preview)
Sex Helps Wife Plan Murder | Scorned – Love Kills (Preview)
Behind the Picket Fence | Scorned: Love Kills | Investigation Discovery (S1, E1)
Rules of Engagement | Scorned: Love Kills | Investigation Discovery (S2, E7)
Monique Berkley | Snapped | Oxygen (S8, E8)
Black Widower | Scorned: Love Kills | Investigation Discovery (S2, E17)
Naval Affairs | Scorned: Love Kills | Investigation Discovery (S3, E1)
Sergeant Swinger | Scorned: Love Kills | Investigation Discovery (S4, E1)
Michelle Theer & John Diamond | Killer Couples | Oxygen (S8, E5)
Fayetteville | Sins & Secrets | Investigation Discovery (S2, E3)
Love is a Battlefield | Scorned: Love Kills | Investigation Discovery (S5, E2)
Two Couples, Two Dangerous Affairs | Scorned: Love Kills (Preview)
Sex, Secrets & Sergeants | Scorned: Love Kills | Investigation Discovery (S5, E5)
True Lies | Forensic Files | FilmRise (S8, E27)

American Monster Premiered ‘Watch Your Back’ on ID: Michelle Paet Pleaded Guilty to Conspiring to Murder Husband Nathan Paet (August 19, 2018)

US Air Force sergeant Nathan Paet and his family appear to live a blissfully normal life – as these never-before-aired home videos attest. But blind greed would bring about the destruction of this loving family. -Watch Your Back, American Monster (S3, E6)

Oxygen:

A happy military family kept walls up that were soon to be knocked down. Did Michelle’s husband bring his fate upon himself, or was she behind the whole thing? -Michelle Paet, Snapped

Those involved with the case give their input on the verdict and Michelle’s future. -Michelle Paet, Snapped

Michelle Fleck details all the ways Michelle Paet plotted to “get rid” of her late husband, Nathan. -Michelle Paet, Snapped

Michelle’s sister, Melissa, speaks fondly of Michelle. -Michelle Paet, Snapped

An Air Force sergeant is gunned down in his garage revealing an elaborate conspiracy with an unlikely mastermind. -Michelle Paet, Snapped

Editor’s note: With a cable subscription, you can download the free ID Go app and watch 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. 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 $3.99 a month. It’s a compilation of older seasons but totally worth the cost if you are a true crime addict. Download the ID Go app or purchase ID True Crime Files & binge away.

Related Links:
Watch Your Back | American Monster | Investigation Discovery (S3, E6)
Watch Your Back | American Monster | Investigation Discovery (website)
Watch Your Back | American Monster | Investigation Discovery (Amazon)
Michelle Paet | Snapped | Oxygen (S21, E8)
Michelle Paet | Snapped | Oxygen (Amazon)
Snapped: Sneak Peek – Did Michelle Do It? (Season 21, Episode 8) | Oxygen
Snapped: After The Verdict – Michelle Paet (Season 21, Episode 8) | Oxygen
Snapped: Bonus Clip – Prosecutor Michelle Fleck (Season 21, Episode 8) | Oxygen
Snapped: Bonus Clip – Kind Words for Michelle (Season 21, Episode 8) | Oxygen
Air Force Staff Sgt. Nathan Paet Shot & Killed as He Got Ready to Leave for Work; Spouse Michelle Paet Sentenced to Life, No Parole for Murder (December 1, 2010)
Snapped Premiered ‘Michelle Paet’ on Oxygen: Air Force Sergeant Gunned Down in Garage Reveals Baffling Conspiracy (September 24, 2017)

Navy Sailor Brandon Caserta Died by Suicide at Naval Station Norfolk; Family Pushing for Suicide Prevention Legislation ‘The Brandon Act’ Focusing on Hazing & Bullying (June 25, 2018)

Brandon Caserta Navy.jpg

AEAN Brandon Caserta, U.S. Navy (photo courtesy of the Caserta family)

Navy AEAN Brandon Caserta was stationed with the Helicopter Combat Sea Squadron 28 (HSC-28) at Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia when he died by suicide on June 25, 2018. While Brandon’s parents were on the phone with Navy leadership at the Squadron, Brandon walked out on the flight line, apologized to the plane captain (who is in-charge of the flight line), and hurled himself into a helicopter rotor, dying instantly. AEAN Caserta had a brief career with the Navy and it didn’t turn out the way he had hoped. He had failed Special Warfare Training and was transferred into a new career field as a result. And then unexpectedly Brandon broke his collar-bone in a bicycle accident, which also negatively impacted his Navy career. At the moment Brandon Caserta made his final walk out to the flight line, his father Patrick Caserta was on the phone with the command expressing concern for his son’s welfare. Patrick was making plans to fly out to Naval Station Norfolk to explore his son’s legal options.

Desperate for answers, the Casertas reached out to Brandon’s chain of command and friends but eventually everyone stopped responding. The Casertas were told by many friends in Brandon’s command that leadership ordered a cessation of communications. Before the silence, Brandon’s friends shared that they thought he appeared to be suffering from depression, feelings of worthlessness, and anger, hence the reason he left a note asking the Navy be held accountable. As a result of the information gleaned from the note and those who knew Brandon, the HSC-28 conducted an investigation of itself; basically the fox guarding the henhouse. Although they knew months in advance of the problems, the report did note that Brandon’s supervisor had a history of berating and belittling those who worked for him. As a matter of fact, this supervisor could have been court-martialed under UCMJ Article 93, Cruelty and Maltreatment, but he wasn’t. Instead, Military.com reports he received no punishment and was transferred with a “declining evaluation” (and this was only after it was heard and reported that he made “derogatory and inflammatory comments concerning the deceased”).

“I want to see as many people fired, kicked out or, at the very least, lose rank.” -Brandon Caserta, U.S. Navy

According to Military.com, the Navy’s suicide rate in 2018 was the highest it’s ever been. And it was reported that a post-mortem analyses of suicides in the military usually showed the victim “faced major issues like financial problems, relationship problems, medical issues, and mental health conditions.” The military reporter reached out to Dave Matsuda, an anthropologist at California State University-East Bay, who researched and studied a suicide cluster among soldiers in Iraq in 2010. Matsuda’s research found some non-commissioned officers (NCOs) and officers in the chain of command made their subordinates’ lives a “living hell.” Matsuda also added that although the “bad leaders weren’t fully responsible for the suicides, they helped push the soldiers over the edge.” But in a system where the Navy is investigating the Navy, we have learned that the Chain of Command isn’t going to admit there is a problem. They have a history of blaming the victim and/or scapegoating an enlisted NCO or lower ranking military officer.

Brandon’s father, Patrick Caserta, a retired U.S. Navy sailor himself, asserts the Command was “so hostile, corruptive and unethical,” that they tormented Brandon and drove him past the brink of despair. Patrick and Teri Caserta wholeheartedly believe the command murdered their son. Patrick reminded us that the military talks about trauma, exposure to war, and mental health, but they don’t talk about harassment and bullying. He believes military leadership do not want to admit harassment, bullying, and retaliation happen or admit they are at fault. In the days and weeks that followed their son’s death, Patrick and Teri also learned from those who worked with Brandon that they were all dealing with a high operational tempo and manpower shortfalls. Brandon’s co-workers believed “personal issues were not a high priority and Brandon’s death could have been prevented.” And an anonymous message sent to the squadron commander on June 18, 2018 revealed the abuse was ongoing before Brandon died.

According to the message, Brandon’s supervisor called subordinates his “bitches,” referred to the chiefs as “douchebags” and “dumbasses” behind their backs, and “treated workers worse than garbage” and “like dogs.” –Military.com (June 8, 2019)

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Military.com reported that Brandon Caserta’s death was one of 68 Navy suicides in 2018. They also reported the rise in military suicides appears to mirror an increase in suicides among the general U.S. population. Suicide experts are struggling to understand why so many are dying by suicide. Some factors for suicide risk, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), include “spending time in prison or jail, having a mental health disorder or a substance abuse problem, experiencing family violence, a history of suicide, and having guns in the home.” Brandon’s family believes their son’s suicide was a direct result of toxic leadership, one superior who harassed and bullied Brandon, pushing him over the edge. According to Army Doctrine Publication 6-22, a toxic leader “operates with an inflated sense of self-worth and from acute self-interest,” consistently using “dysfunctional behaviors to deceive, intimidate, coerce, or unfairly punish others to get what they want for themselves.” Although it appears there are multiple variables that impact when a service member chooses to die by suicide, the experts need to find out the why so we can save our service member’s lives. What is happening in their environment that makes them feel like suicide is the only way out?

The directive states, toxic leaders exhibit a combination of “self centered attitudes, motivations, and behaviors that have adverse effects on subordinates, the organization, and mission performance.” –Military.com (June 8, 2019)

Military.com reported that one of Brandon’s co-workers helped shed some insight into the toxic climate at the Navy’s HSC-28 squadron. He accused leadership of deploying personnel in retaliation for speaking up and not doing as they are told. This particular individual requested that he remain at the squadron when his wife got sick because he needed to support her and their two girls. But his leadership was going to deploy him with a detachment anyways. So he filed an Inspector General complaint and thankfully was transferred out of the squadron in a couple weeks. He believes Navy personnel have a “fear of retribution” because the command is resentful of the service members who can’t deploy. Brandon’s family experienced a form of retaliation as well. The unit held a memorial service for Brandon four days after he died but Patrick and Teri said they were not invited by anyone in the HSC-28 command. Patrick Caserta believes the family was excluded out of sheer pettiness; leadership wanted to continue to conceal and coverup what truly happened. Regardless of the reason, it was a violation of Navy policy.

“Navy policy states that the command should provide round-trip travel and allowances to family members to attend a command memorial service.” –Military.com (June 8, 2019)

On May 31, 2019, after the command learned that Military.com had made phone calls regarding the Casertas’ allegations, Navy personnel indicated there was a “culture of fear” at the squadron. The Casertas are so angry and distraught that communications have stopped that they offered a $25,000 reward to anyone who came forward with information that “lead to successful prosecution of individuals in their son’s chain of command.” They have also met with the congressional staff of at least a dozen senators and representatives, including Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) to discuss “the treatment they and Brandon received, request an independent investigation, and promote efforts to prevent suicide linked to toxic leadership.” They also would like to see the Navy implement Brandon Caserta’s request in his suicide note regarding the re-rate process: “sailors who don’t complete the training for the rate they initially sought should be able to select any other training they qualify for with their Armed Services Vocational Battery (ASVAB) test results.”

Anthropologist Dave Matsuda told Military.com that to truly address the problem of suicide in the armed forces, “all the services need to consider ‘toxic leadership’ when analyzing the deaths of each individual.” If we understand the why, we can prevent suicide. Matsuda also believes operational leaders should not rely on “the boot camp strategy of breaking people down to build them back up.” Matsuda concluded with the assertion that indeed a toxic command climate can trigger suicidal behavior. One year later, Patrick and Teri Caserta are determined to get justice for their only son, because they believe this tragedy could’ve been prevented. The pair also report that Congress is drafting “The Brandon Act,” which is “federal legislation aimed at ending military suicides, holding commanders accountable, and halting the bullying and hazing that occurs within military ranks.” Please contact both the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) members and the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) members and your Senators and Representative to ask that they too support our troops by supporting The Brandon Act. Our service members deserve a chance at a beautiful life post military.

“The Brandon Act” is designed to be a safe word that men and women in our Armed Forces can use if they are subjects of any kind of abuse whether it’s physical, emotional or mentally. Abuse comes in many, many forms to include bullying, hazing, threats, sexual, abusive leadership, and any kind of mental and emotional abuse. These are just a few abusive tactics that can be done to someone. “The Brandon Act” protects those who come forward asking for help. It is designed for these men and women to come forward and get the help they need and if the abuse merits it, the sailor or troop will have a right to ask to be reassigned to another command or unit without any retaliation whatsoever from anyone in their current command or their next assignment. Our hope is to bring suicides to an end and by using this “Act” will hopefully allow them the courage to get help when they need it and get them healed and back on the right path. This “Act” is in front of Congress right now and hopefully very soon, they will approve and pass it once it’s completely written. Thank you for reading. –Justice for Brandon Caserta on Facebook (June 20, 2019) #TheBrandonAct

Sources: Patrick Caserta (Brandon’s father), Patricia Kime, Military.com, and related links

In the News:

As Terri Caserta entered her son’s bedroom in their Peoria home, she broke down. It’s an emotion that Terri and her husband Patrick Caserta will always carry with them. Their son Brandon was in the United States Navy from 2015 to 2018. However, at just 21, Brandon would take his own life. -ABC 15 Arizona (June 14, 2019)

Related Links:
Obituary: Brandon Patrick Caserta (June 25, 2018)
3rd Cowpens CO Fired Since 2010; CMC Relieved (2014)
Army Takes On Its Own Toxic Leaders (2014)
‘I now hate my ship’: Surveys reveal disastrous morale on cruiser Shiloh (2017)
Navy: Failures of Leaders, Watchstanders Led to Deadly Ship Collisions (2017)
Former MCPON Bawled Out Staff, Made Sailors Fetch Coffee: Investigation
His Suicide Note Was a Message to the Navy. The Way He Died Was the Exclamation Point
When Driven to Suicide, at a Minimum it is Manslaughter! – The Navy’s Incessant Harassment of Brandon Caserta Ultimately Drove Him to Suicide – People Were Promoted, Instead of Held Accountable
Suicides Are Still On The Rise In The Military — Is That Really a Surprise? Spoiler: The Answer Is ‘No.’
Peoria family hopes for change in military culture after son takes his own life
Family hopes for change in military culture after son takes his own life
Family hopes for change in military culture after son takes his own life
Peoria family hopes for change in military culture after son takes his own life (YouTube)
Army Staff Sgt. Paul Norris Fatally Shot Army Spc. Kamisha Block in Iraq After She Ended a Forbidden Relationship, Then Ended His Own Life (August 16, 2007)
Camp Lejeune Marine Maria Lauterbach & Unborn Child Murdered, Remains Discovered in Fellow Marine’s Backyard; Cesar Laurean Sentenced to Life in Prison, No Parole (December 15, 2007)
Military Rape Survivor Army Sgt. Amanda Sheldon Died by Suicide After Suffering With Depression; Family Hopes Her Death May Spark Change (October 7, 2010)
Lauterbach Case Prompts Policy Reforms for Victims of Crime in the Military (December 25, 2011)
Army Directive 2011-19: Expedited Transfer or Reassignment Procedures for Victims of Sexual Assault (3 Oct 11)
Military Policy and Legislation Considerations for the Investigations of Non Combat Death, Homicide, and Suicide of US Service Members (2016)
Army Soldiers at Fort Hood in Texas Are Dying at Alarming Rates Stateside (2017)
Are More Male’s Victims of Violent Crime in the United States Than Females? (2017)
September: U.S. Department of Defense Casualties Report from September 11, 2001 to Present (2017)
Sexual Assault in the Armed Forces, Transfer Policies Panel (2017)
48 Hours NCIS Premiered ‘Trail of Fire’ on CBS: Holley Wimunc, Domestic Violence, and the Holley Lynn James Act (June 26, 2018)
ProPublica: ‘Death and Valor on an American Warship Doomed by Its Own Navy’ (February 6, 2019)
Senate Armed Services Committee Members & House Armed Services Committee Members (June 21, 2019)
The Brandon Act | Justice for Brandon Caserta
Justice for Brandon Caserta | Facebook
Navy Failed Their Son | ABC 15 Arizona