Violent Crime, Suicide, and Non Combat Death at Fort Riley, Kansas (US Army)


Fort Riley provides a Modern State-of-the-Art full spectrum, maneuver-friendly training environment in the Midwest, supporting the “Total Army.” Check out this five minute video to learn why Fort Riley finds itself positioned perfectly to provide for the Army’s current and future training needs. -DVIDSHUB

*Research not complete, includes combat deaths

2017
Dameko Artis, Civilian: Fort Riley man victim of shooting at shopping center
Eugene Cleaver, US Army Veteran: Former soldier stationed at Fort Riley sentenced to 17 years for sexual abuse of child in Texas
Richard Cox, US Army: Died 4 days after suffering gunshot wound
Alejandro Franquiz, US Army: Self-inflicted gunshot wound off post
Xavier Harden, US Army: Entered the lake from a boat and didn’t resurface, body later recovered
Ikaika Kang, US Army: FBI arrested former Ft Riley soldier in HI on terror charges
John Martinez, US Army: Found unresponsive in his barracks room
Peter Robbins, US Army: Shot and killed by police in Junction City

2016
Antonio Bates, US Army: In 2016, veteran sentenced to 15 years in prison for sexual abuse of a minor in the 1990s while stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas
Phillip Cruz-Medellin, US Army: Found dead in nearby Manhattan
Oscar Delgado, US Army: Found dead on post after missing for a week
Wayne Grigsby, US Army: Relieved of command of the 1st Infantry Division due to loss of confidence in ability to lead, suspended and fired
Joseph Stifter, US Army: Died in fatal roll-over accident, Iraq

2015
Randy Billings, US Army: Killed in Black Hawk UH-60 helicopter crash, Afghanistan
Peter Bohler, US Army: Killed in Black Hawk UH-60 helicopter crash, Afghanistan
Christopher Boynton, US Army: Found dead with gunshot wound on post
James Duke, US Army: Sentenced to 10 years in federal prison after convicted of aggravated sexual abuse of a child, most assaults happened in military housing at Fort Riley from 1996 to 2001
Jessica Echevarria, US Army Spouse: Found dead on post, single vehicle accident
Cyjay Echon, US Army: Jailed after allegedly put infant child in hospital, in critical condition, held on $150,000 bond, waived preliminary hearing
Omar Forde, US Army: Killed in Black Hawk UH-60 helicopter crash, Afghanistan
Kenyon Givens, US Army Dependent: Died from gunshot wound on post
Terry Gordon, US Army: Killed in Black Hawk UH-60 helicopter crash, Afghanistan
Juwan Jackson, US Army Dependent: Charged with involuntary manslaughter by US Attorney’s office
Brian Mastin, US Army: Arrested on child abuse & criminal threatening charges after standoff, suicidal
Alexander McConnell, US Army: Sentenced to 15 years in prison for second degree murder and 2 charges of child abuse
Joshua Silverman, US Army: Killed in Black Hawk UH-60 helicopter crash, Afghanistan

2014
James Henning, US Army: arrested for sexual exploitation of a child, rape, and aggravated sodomy; bond set at $5,000,000, sentenced to life
Scott Wilhelm, US Army: Arrested for sexual exploitation of a child, sexting

2013
Daniel Parker, US Army: Convicted of first degree murder, appealing
Sean Vincent, US Army: Arrested on charges in alleged child pornography case
Kimberly Walker, US Army: Homicide victim of boyfriend, Army soldier

2012
Michael Braden, US Army: Found unresponsive in his living quarters, Afghanistan
John Hughes, US Army: Convicted in the stabbing death of another soldier, sentenced to life in prison without parole
Todd Lambka, US Army: Died from wounds suffered in IED explosion, Afghanistan
Thomas Lavrey, US Army: Found unresponsive in living quarters on post
Jesus Lopez, US Army: Died from wounds suffered in IED explosion, Afghanistan

2011
Nathan Conley, US Army: Found dead in barracks room at WTB, ruled suicide
Florinda Evans, US Army: Accused of homicide by husband’s father
LaShawn Evans, US Army Dependant: Found dead in wife’s barracks in Iraq with gunshot wound to head, Army ruled suicide at first but reclassified to homicide
Aaron Evilsizer, US Army: Found dead of self-inflicted gunshot wound off post
Brice Scott, US Army: Died when insurgents attacked unit, Afghanistan

2010
Eddie Lowery, US Army Veteran: Wrongfully convicted by civilians of a rape that occurred in 1981 while stationed at Fort Riley, cleared by DNA, awarded 7.5 million
Hugh Marquez Jr, US Army: Found dead at friend’s house in Manhatten
Benjamin Miller, US Army: Found unresponsive in vehicle on post

2009
John Digrazia, US Army: Found unresponsive in barracks on post

2007
Jason Butkus, US Army: Died when insurgents attacked unit, Iraq
Camy Florexil, US Army: Died when IED detonated near vehicle, Iraq
Braden Long, US Army: Died when vehicle came under grenade attack, Iraq
Daniel Miller, US Army: Non-combat related incident, Afghanistan
Henry Ofeciar, US Army: Died when insurgents attacked unit, Afghanistan
Antonio Ortiz, US Army: Stabbed outside bar off post, found dead in parking lot
Latoya Pitts, US Army: Convicted of involuntary manslaughter in fatal stabbing of Army boyfriend outside bar
Christian Quinones, US Army: Died of a gunshot wound to the abdomen off post
Castulo Salas, US Army: Sentenced to six months in military prison for shooting death of fellow soldier off post

2006
Jeffery Brown, US Army: Died when UH-60 Blackhawk crashed, Iraq
Steven Mennemeyer, US Army: Died when UH-60 Blackhawk crashed, Iraq

2005
Kyle Dennis, US Army: Sentenced to 5 years in prison for third-degree burglary, accessory to aggravated assault and attempted theft
Luke Hoffman, US Army: Sentenced to 5 years for attempted grand theft and two counts of aggravated assault
Seferino Reyna, US Army: Died when IED detonated near military vehicle, Iraq
Christopher Wilaby, US Army: Homicide of Echo Wiles, convicted in 2011
Echo Wiles, Civilian: Homicide victim of boyfriend, Army soldier

2004
Yoe Aneiros, US Army: Died when vehicle came under attack, Iraq
Pierre Cole, US Army: Arrested for the fatal shooting of store manager James Jung, 52, during a robbery in Chicago, held on $1.5 million bond
Eric Colvin, US Army: Charged with homicide, sentenced to 12 yrs on drug charges
David Heath, US Army: Died when patrol came under small arms, Iraq
Christopher Hymer, US Army: Homicide victim off post by Army soldier
Adriana Renteria, US Army Spouse: Alleged victim of domestic abuse
Carlos Renteria, US Army: Accused of domestic abuse, sent overseas, ordered to attend military anger management and alcohol abuse classes
Neil Santoriello, US Army: Died when IED detonated near military vehicle, Iraq
Daniel Shepherd, US Army: Died when military vehicle hit IED, Iraq
Aaron Stanley, US Army: Convicted of the premeditated murders of 2 Army soldiers, sentenced to life in prison/no parole
Matthew Werner, US Army: Homicide victim off post by Army soldier

2003
Christopher Cutchall, US Army: Died when IED detonated near vehicle, Iraq

2001
James Hawthorne, US Army: Shot in leg after someone shot 4 bullets in his vehicle
Shaun Leach, US Army: Died after someone shot 4 bullets into civilian vehicle
Jeremy Ware, US Army: Accused of attempted unpremeditated murder, carrying a concealed weapon, and wrongful acquisition of a firearm

1985
Francis Badame, US Army: Murdered after tricked and lured by two Army soldiers to go to a remote section of military post to hunt deer, buried in shallow grave
Timothy Keenan, US Army: Faced court-martial on murder and conspiracy charges & charged by state with conspiracy to commit first degree murder; plotted crossbow and beating death of Pvt. Francis Badame
Wayne Partridge Jr, US Army: Testified he shot Pvt. Francis Badame in the back with a crossbow and Timothy Keenan repeatedly beat Badame with a shovel

Related Links:
Two dead in Fort Riley shooting (1995)
2 Brothers May Face Explosives, Gun Charges (1995)
Troops in Distinguished Ft. Riley Unit Resent Notoriety From McVeigh Ties : Military: Present, former GIs of 16th Infantry angry over the tarnishing its record has received with the arrest of the prime bombing suspect. (1995)
Despite Army’s Assurances, Violence at Home (2008)
Child ‘Forrest Gump’ actor leaving Army (2008)
Army Alcoholics: More Soldiers Hitting the Bottle (2010)
One-fourth of killings in Sedgwick County since 1989 happened in 7 census tracts (2014)
Feds charge Kansas man with Fort Riley bomb plot (2015)
Kansas woman pleads guilty to sex trafficking a minor (2016)
Thousands of US troops deploying to Afghanistan, Europe this summer (2017)

Violent Crime, Suicide, and Non-Combat Death at Fort Bliss, Texas (US Army)

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*Research not complete and includes combat deaths.

2017:

Adam Acosta, US Army Veteran: Accused of Homicide
John Barcellano, US Army: Fatal Motorcyle Accident
Tyler Croke, US Army: Homicide Victim
Riley Gast, US Army: Found Dead in Desert, Cause of Death Unknown
Zachary Johnston, US Army Veteran: Accused of Homicide
Hansen Kirkpatrick, US Army: Indirect Fire Attack, Afghanistan
Brandon Olsen, US Army: Accused of Homicide
John Rodriguez, US Army: Non-Combat Related Incident, Kuwait

2016:

Anthony Bowden, US Army: Accused of Homicide
Eric Duvall, US Army: Accused of Homicide
Tyler Hall, US Army: Accused of Homicide
Melvin Jones, US Army: AWOL, Missing, Found
Dante Naken Dewayne Long, US Army: Homicide Victim
Ronald Murray, Jr., US Army: Non-Combat Death, Vehicle Accident, Kuwait
Jake Obad-Mathis, US Army: AWOL, Missing, Found
MG John Rossi, US Army: Death Rule Suicide
Audi Sumilat, US Army: Guilty of Gun Smuggling; Final Disposition Unknown
Devon Ward, US Army: AWOL, Missing, Found Dead
Aaron Wolfe, US Army Veteran: Passed Away Unexpectedly

2015:

Gabriel Benavidez, Civilian: Victim of Physical Assault
Andrew Budd, US Army: Found Dead in Home, Cause of Death Unknown
Dr. Timothy Fjordbak, Veterans Affairs: Homicide Victim
Deric Joyce, US Army (2015): Pleaded Guilty to Aggravated Battery Resulting in Great Bodily Harm
Jerry Serrato, US Army Veteran: Homicide, Suicide
Jonathan Wynkoop, US Army: Died in Training Exercise

2014:

Christina Bukovcik, US Army: Homicide Victim
Devon Huerta-Person, US Army: Charged with Aggravated Assault
Dartarious Graham, US Army: Homicide, Sentenced to 40 Years
Peyton Graham, US Army Dependent: Homicide Victim
Geomel Shaffa, US Army: Homicide of Spouse, Sentenced to 50 Years

2013:

Jackson Farrey, US Army Dependent: Homicide victim
Jeffrey Farrey, US Army: Homicide, sentenced to 20 years
Jenna Farrey, US Army Spouse: Homicide, sentenced to 35 years
Troy Kent, US Army: Fatal automobile accident
Corey Moss, US Army: Attempted murder, sentenced to 30 years
Rachel Poole, US Army Spouse: Victim of attempted homicide
Timothy Santos Jr., US Army: Non combat related illness, Kuwait
Mariza Shaffa, US Army Spouse: Victim of attempted homicide

2012:

James Brown, US Army: Died While in Jail for DWI Charge
Malachi Cosby, US Army Dependent: Homicide Victim
Crispen Hanson, US Army: Homicide, Sentenced to 8 Years
Francisco Perez, US Army: Homicide, Afghanistan, Sentenced to 15 Months
Neil Turner, US Army: Homicide Victim, Afghanistan
Shawn Williams, US Army: Court of Criminal Appeals Decision

2011:

Kelvin Gooding, US Army: Homicide Victim
Lykisha Gooding, US Army: Homicide Victim
Alex Jaime, US Army: Homicide Victim
Zareef Saleel, US Army: Homicide of Alex Jaime, Sentenced to Life in Prison
James Steadman, US Army: Homicide of 2 Soldiers; Shot & Killed by Woman

2010:

Robert Nichols, US Army: Suicide

2009:

Michael Apodaca, US Army: Homicide, Sentenced to Life
Cassaundra Beckel, US Army: Homicide Victim by Spouse
Kevin Beckel, US Army: Homicide of Spouse, Suicide
Jacob Engle, US Army: Accidental Shooting Death
Gerald Polanco, US Army: Accused of Homicide, Incompetent to Stand Trial
Thelton Riley, Civilian: Homicide, Sentenced to 30 Years
Leesa Trujillo, Civilian: Injury to Child & Involuntary Manslaughter, Sentenced to 10 Years
Justin Weckel, US Army: Suspected Suicide
Keiffer Wilhelm, US Army: Non combat related incident, suicide, Iraq

2008:

Clinton Lewis, US Army Spouse: Accused of Kidnapping, Rape & Stabbing Wife; Final Disposition Unknown
Jeneesa Lewis, US Army: Kidnapped, Stabbed & Raped but Found Alive

2007:

John Fish, US Army: Suspected Suicide

2003:

Jamaal Addison, US Army: Killed in Ambush, Iraq
Robert Dowdy, US Army: Killed in Ambush, Iraq
Ruben Estrella-Soto, US Army: Killed in Ambush, Iraq
Edgar Hernandez, US Army: POW, Iraq, Rescued by USMC
Joseph Hudson, US Army: POW, Iraq, Rescued by USMC
Howard Johnson II, US Army: Killed in Ambush, Iraq
Shoshana Johnson, US Army: POW, Iraq, Rescued by USMC
James Kiehl, US Army: Killed in Ambush, Iraq
Jessica Lynch, US Army: POW, Iraq, Rescued by USMC
Johnny Mata, US Army: Killed in Ambush, Iraq
Patrick Miller, US Army: POW, Iraq, Rescued by USMC
Lori Piestewa, US Army: Killed in Ambush, Iraq
James Riley, US Army: POW, Iraq, Rescued by USMC
Brandon Sloan, US Army: Killed in Ambush, Iraq
Donald Walters, US Army: Killed in Ambush, Iraq

2001:

Lynn Reister, US Army: Homicide Victim
Roger Reister, US Army: Homicide of Capt. Lynn Reister for SGLI

2000:

Luis Rodriguez-Martinez, US Army: Suicide or Murder?

1991:

Anthony Riggs, US Army: Homicide Victim

1984:

Nathan Craig, US Army: Homicide Victim
Willie Jackson, US Army: Homicide, Suicide

1979:

Vernon Shearer, US Army: Homicide Victim

1977:

Chester Garrett, US Army: Homicide Victim
Andrew Heard, US Army: 2 Homicides, Sentenced to 15-55 Years in Prison after Released from 4 Years in Prison for Murder of German Woman
Ralph Sigler, US Army: Suicide or Murder?

1944:

Cecil Cash, US Army: Homicide Victim, War Crime

Related Links:
8 missing soldiers identified as dead
Iraq War 2003: Attack On Fort Bliss’ 507th Maintenance Company
As a Brigade Returns Safe, Some Meet New Enemies
Army investigates radiation exposure at Fort Bliss
General’s remarks about suicide “upsetting”
At Army base, an aggressive campaign against suicide
At A Texas Base, Battling Army’s Top Threat: Suicide
Military Experts: With ISIS in El Paso, Ft. Bliss in Danger of Terrorist Attack
Murders Up, but El Paso Still Safe, Lawmakers Say
Pentagon has struggled with a jump in child abuse in military families since America went to war
General with Bliss ties is most senior Army officer to kill self
The General Who Went to War On Suicide

11 Signs of a Sneaky Sociopath

Psychopaths and sociopaths behave differently but both can be just as dangerous. This public service announcement will help educate the reader about the sociopath specifically because sociopaths are both non-violent and violent and use charm and pity to enter your life. There is limited research available on the non-violent sociopath but Dr. Martha Stout, the author of The Sociopath Next Door, does a great job at helping the reader understand how the charming sociopaths operate. Many people have asked Dr. Stout how to protect themselves from the non-violent sociopath. Dr. Stout’s advice to those who want to protect themselves from these social predators is beware of those who use the ‘pity play’ in an effort to appeal to your sympathies.

The Sociopath Next Door is an eye-opening book and highly recommended reading for everyone, especially those interested in criminal justice reform and military justice reform. Research of sociopaths has revealed that the non-violent sociopath has a tendency to abuse the court processes and level false allegations against their enemy in an effort to harm reputations, improve their financial situation, or simply for revenge because you rejected them. Rejection is the trigger for sociopaths. If you find yourself dealing with a vindictive personality, it is best not to engage. If you provoke the non-violent sociopath, it will only make the situation worse. Learn more about the modus operandi of sociopaths to prevent getting entangled in their web of lies.

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We are accustomed to think of sociopaths as violent criminals, but in The Sociopath Next Door, Harvard psychologist Martha Stout reveals that a shocking 4 percent of ordinary people have an often undetected mental disorder, the chief symptom of which is that that person possesses no conscience. He or she has no ability whatsoever to feel shame, guilt, or remorse. One in twenty-five everyday Americans, therefore, is secretly a sociopath. They could be your colleague, your neighbor, even family. And they can do literally anything at all and feel absolutely no guilt… (Inside Jacket Cover of The Sociopath Next Door)

1 in 25 ordinary Americans secretly has no conscience and can do anything at all without feeling guilty. Who is the devil you know?The Sociopath Next Door


Think you can easily spot a sociopath? Think again. Sociopaths aren’t always the stereotypical “serial killer type” you might be thinking of. These individuals come in all shapes and sizes. Your best friend, significant other, roommate, or family member could be hiding a dark secret. Instant Checkmate compiled the 11 signs of a sneaky sociopath. Ready to learn more? Run a background check on them. -www.InstantCheckmate.com

Sociopaths are experts at presenting themselves as everyday people, so they can be difficult to identify…Unless you know the signs of a sociopath. Sociopathy is also known as antisocial personality disorder. A sociopathic person will typically have no understanding of right or wrong. There is no treatment for sociopathy. The disorder can be prevented in children who show early signs but among adults, the disorder is permanent. You may know an actual sociopath, though you may not even be aware of it. So what indicators can we look for?

  1. Superficial Charm: Sociopaths often appear to be very charming on the surface in order to manipulate trust.
  2. Narcissism: Sociopaths are extremely egocentric. They believe that everyone should agree with their actions and opinions.
  3. Pathological Lying: Sociopaths will lie in order to create a false persona. They aim to hide their true motives.
  4. Manipulative & Cunning: Sociopaths attempt to find and exploit other people’s weaknesses in order to get what they want.
  5. Shallow Emotions: Sociopaths do not genuinely feel emotions. Many can fake their emotions to fool the people around them.
  6. Lack of Remorse, Shame, or Guilt: Sociopaths do not feel bad about their actions, even if they hurt others.
  7. Incapable of Human Attachment: Sociopaths can’t form genuine relationships with others. They may form relationships in order to appear normal.
  8. Constant Need for Stimulation: Sociopaths may take unnecessary risks that put themselves and others in dangerous situations.
  9. Lack of Empathy: Sociopaths are unable to relate the perspectives or problems of other people.
  10. Impulsive Nature: Sociopaths will exhibit hostility, irritability, and aggression. They act on their impulses without caring without caring about any potential consequences.
  11. Promiscuous Sexual Behavior: Sociopaths are likely to be unfaithful and promiscuous, which is connected to their tendency to get bored easily.

Sociopaths may have problems with drug and alcohol use. They may also have a criminal record related to their behavior. You can get a background check at Instant Checkmate.

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Psychopath vs. Sociopath

Military Policy and Legislation Considerations for the Investigations of Non Combat Death, Homicide, and Suicide of US Service Members

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Objective: Provide support to families who have lost loved ones to non combat death, homicide, and suicide. Prevent non combat death, homicide and suicide by providing an expedited transfer option to whistleblowers and those who feel like their lives may be in danger.

This is a small sample of the many soldiers that have died of non combat deaths, homicide, and suicide. It was hard for me to choose which ones to feature. Given the amount of families who have questioned a ruling of suicide while their loved one was serving in the US military, it’s fair to say that some suicide rulings should have a second look to determine if a homicide was ruled out. It’s important to note that if the cause of death is determined to be suicide, then the military never has to investigate again.

Brief overview of need for expedited transfers for whistleblowers in general:

John Needham and Adam Winfield had a lot in common: they both claim to have witnessed war crimes, one in Iraq, the other in Afghanistan. They both wanted to report the war crimes but didn’t feel safe doing so. They both admitted to feeling like they were set up to die or participate in the war crimes. The only difference: John’s parents were able to get him out of Iraq after he started deteriorating mentally. Adam’s parents were not able to get him out of Afghanistan and he was charged with war crimes after he was set up to participate. On the Dark Side of Al Doura and the Kill Team Movie are must sees because they show the similarity in the cases and reveal how an expedited transfer option could have helped them & saved innocent civilian lives. I included a history of crime at the bases they were stationed at to demonstrate that the crime simply follows them overseas.

John Needham, Army (2008):
Retired Army Pvt John Needham Beat Girlfriend Jacqwelyn Villagomez to Death, Then Died of Overdose on Painkillers Awaiting Murder Trial
An Inside Look at Toxic Leadership in the US Army: On the Dark Side in Al Doura, Iraq
On the Dark Side in Al Doura, Iraq on YouTube
Violent Crime, Suicide & Non Combat Death at Fort Carson

Adam Winfield, Army (2010):
Army Soldier Adam Winfield Tried to Report War Crimes But Instead was Charged with War Crimes as Part of ‘The Kill Team’
PBS Documentary ‘The Kill Team’ Nominated for an Emmy
The Kill Team on Amazon Prime
Violent Crime, Suicide & Non Combat Death at JBLM

Would the expedited transfer option help prevent suicide or homicide in these cases?

Alyssa Peterson, Army (2003)

There were concerns that Alyssa committed suicide because she didn’t want to participate in war crimes like torture. Could her life have been saved if she felt like she had a way out? Did she commit suicide? Was homicide ruled out?

Gloria Davis, Denise Lannaman, & Marshall Gutierrez, Army (2006)

Reports indicate Gloria Davis, Army (2006) committed suicide hours after she provided names and testimony to CID investigators regarding soldiers involved in a bribery scheme in Kuwait. She was a witness to the crimes and a witness for the prosecution. Did she commit suicide? Was homicide ever considered? How could this have been prevented? She was one of 3 people in the same logistics group in Kuwait tied to the bribery scheme investigation that committed suicide. Both Denise Lannaman, Army (2006) and Lt. Col. Marshall Gutierrez, Army (2006) deaths were ruled suicides by the Army as well. Were any of these cases investigated as homicides? Did anyone question why three soldiers from Kuwait tied to one investigation killed themselves?

Suzanne Swift, Army (2006)

Suzanne refused to redeploy for a third time for fear that she would be raped or assaulted this time. She went AWOL instead & was jailed. Could this have been prevented if she had a way out of Fort Lewis? She hadn’t been raped or assaulted yet. She was trying to prevent it given the isolation in Iraq. Does the expedited transfer apply to sexual harassment situations where the offender(s) are escalating? How could we have prevented this? If you look at the history of violent crime at JBLM and in Iraq, you can clearly see why Suzanne Swift was fearful for her life. She chose life and jail over rape and murder.

Genesia Gresham, Navy (2007)

Genesia and Anamarie Camacho were victims of homicide in Bahrain. Genesia was said to have been in a casual relationship with the shooter at one point. Were there red flags prior to the murder? Was the shooters behavior escalating? Does domestic violence, harassment, and stalking qualify for an expedited transfer? Could this have been prevented if Genesia had a way out when she realized she may have been in danger? The killer was never jail but instead institutionalized for mental health issues.

Jennifer Valdivia, Navy (2007)

Jennifer was at the center of command investigation of abuse of prisoners in Bahrain. It was reported that she did not want to participate in war crimes yet was belittled, harassed, and abused by a supervisor if she didn’t do what he asked. If she had a way out, could this suicide have been prevented? Was it a suicide? Was it ever investigated as a homicide?

Kelsey Anderson, USAF (2011)

The Anderson family reported that Kelsey’s health deteriorated after she learned that she could not transfer or get out of the military while stationed at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam. Why did she want a transfer? Why did she want to get out of the military all of a sudden? Did something happen to make Kelsey feel the need to get out of Guam as quickly as possible? Her death was ruled a suicide. Could this have been prevented if she was allowed to transfer? The Air Force took her gun privileges away shortly after she got to Guam because of mental health concerns. They gave it back to her a month before she died.

Danny Chen, Army (2011)

Danny was being hazed and bullied by fellow soldiers in Afghanistan. Could his death have been prevented if he had a way out of this situation? Does the expedited transfer apply to scenarios where an individual is being hazed, harassed, and physically assaulted? Did Danny fear murder? How could this have been prevented so Danny didn’t feel like suicide was the only way out?

Ciara Durkin, Mass Army National Guard (2007)

Ciara found discrepancies in the finance office in Afghanistan & feared that she made enemies. She asked her family to investigate if anything happened to her while she was overseas. Could we have saved Ciara’s life if once she realized that crimes may have been committed, she could leave and then safely report? Ciara was a witness to crime yet had to remain in the setting. Do expedited transfers apply to those who want to report crimes yet cannot do so safely in an isolated location?

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I researched the non combat deaths of female soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan and other areas. I was alarmed by what I learned. It appears that close to 30% of the deaths of female soldiers in Iraq alone are from homicide, suicide, or unknown causes. I am working on doing the same research for male soldiers but have been overwhelmed with the number of non combat deaths of male soldiers. I am starting with 2010 to 2016. Then will focus energy on 2001 to 2010.

Non Combat Death of Female Soldiers:
Iraq
Afghanistan
Other Areas

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There are many cold cases in the military. The Army has the most cold cases. This list is a small sample of the cold cases in the military. Each case has the same theme. The families feel like they can’t get cooperation from the military to figure out what happened to their loved one. The families are devastated by the loss and traumatized further by the indifference, lack of support, and bureaucracy. If the homicide occurred on a base, they have nowhere to turn but the military because of federal jurisdiction issues. Most civilian cold case investigators ask for other investigators to take a look at cases to give them a fresh set of eyes. New investigators can add additional expertise to help find answers and give families closure. Two must see documentaries highlighting some of the major issues with investigations in the military are The Tillman Story (Pat Tillman) and The Silent Truth (LaVena Johnson).

Cold Cases:
Gorden Hess, Army (1998)
Col Philip Shue (2003)
Lavena Johnson, Army (2005)
Tina Priest, Army (2006)
Kamisha Block, Army (2007)
Benjamin Griego, Army NG (2007)
Seteria Brown, Army (2008)
Stacy Dryden, USMC (2008)
Blanca Luna, USAF (2008)
Keisha Morgan, Army (2008)
Cherie Morton, Navy (2008)
BG Thomas Tinsley, USAF (2008)
Anton Phillips, Army (2009)
Amy Seyboth-Tirador (2009)
Katherine Morris, Army Spouse (2012)
Sean Wells, Army (2013)
Virginia Caballero, Army (2014)

Cases Solved by NCIS Cold Case Squad:
Lt Verle Hartley, Navy (1982)
Andrew Muns, Navy (1968)

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Other Areas of Concern:
David Dickson, US Army (1984) Tracking criminal behavior world wide
Kathleen Lipscomb, USAF spouse (1986) Jurisdiction Issues
Walter Smith, USMC (2006) Use of PTSD defense/stigma
Maria Lauterbach, USMC (2007) Expedited Transfer Policy
Jennifer Cole, Army (2008) Accountability/Investigations
Holley Wimunc, US Army (2008) Domestic Violence/Military Role
Morganne McBeth, Army (2010) Sentencing/Negligent Homicide
Mikayla Bragg, Army (2011) Mental Health/Suicide/Personnel Records
Kelli Bordeaux, Army (2012) Sex offender registry/Army role
Michelle Miller, Army (2013) Accountability of those in positions of power
Shadow McClaine, Army (2016) DV & attempted murder prior to homicide
Cati Blauvelt, US Army spouse (2016) DV/Accountability/Fugitives
Army Reserve Veteran Micah Johnson Murdered Five Dallas Police Officers (2016)
A List of Soldiers Targeted & Murdered for the SGLI
5 Service Members Currently on Military Death Row at Leavenworth
The US Military Recruited Violent Felons to Support the War Efforts

History of Homicide/Suicide on Military Bases:
Violent Crime, Suicide & Non Combat Death at US Military Bases

Recommendations:

  • Expand expedited transfer policy to include whistleblowers (war crimes, hazing, stalking, sex harassment, witnesses to crimes) in an effort to prevent homicide and suicide
  • Creation of cold case squads in the Army & Air Force to investigate homicide & suicide rulings
  • Centralized location for families to call to initiate an investigation of suicide ruling or cold cases, with mental health component
  • Official way to dispute findings of military investigators/medical examiners, ability to request a second independent investigation

The Feres Doctrine prevents soldiers from suing the Armed Forces for injuries incurred in the line of duty but families can sue the government in an effort to hold them accountable. Although lawyers and lengthy court battles are costly and re-traumatizing for the families. They shouldn’t have to sue the the government to get answers. They shouldn’t have to submit a FOIA request to find out how their loved one passed. Therefore it only seems fair that we give families the answers and support they need when they lose a loved one who is serving in the US military.

We need centralized databases so that records of criminal activity can be more readily tracked to prevent a violent criminal from escalating to homicide. The military is considered one team now and their criminal activity impacts service members in all branches and civilians in the US and other countries. Given the transient population and jurisdiction issues, it only makes sense to utilize the existing FBI national database in an effort to connect crimes committed on bases, overseas, deployed locations, and in the civilian jurisdictions here in the US. The overall goal is to prevent multiple victims and homicide.

Violent Crime, Non Combat Death & Suicide at United States Military Bases

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*Research not complete.

My experiences as a victim of crime in the United States military inspired me to do the work I do today as a military justice policy analyst. Not only did I witness first hand how a predator operates but I witnessed multiple predator types in real time while serving my country. If these people committed these acts of crimes at work in the civilian world, they would have been in jail or I would have been rich after taking my employer to civil court. Well maybe not because the deck is stacked against the accuser but we do in fact have a civilian justice system that allows us to hold others accountable, while it simultaneously protects the due process rights of the accused. This cannot be said of the military justice system. There is no guarantee a military Commander will do anything with a crime report let alone process the felony crime effectively. We do not want a justice system where one man or woman decides whether to do nothing, give a non judicial punishment for a felony crime, or railroad the accused or accuser. We do want a justice system where we can hold our employer accountable without roadblocks from the Pentagon, Congress, and the Feres Doctrine. We cannot effectively tackle the violent crime issue in the military until the victims of crimes, like sexual assault and domestic violence, feel safe enough to report. Crime victims have expressed that they do not want to report crimes to a Commander for fear of retaliation. The Department of Defense admitted that of those of who did report the crime, 62% perceived that they faced retaliation. If service members felt safe enough to report, it could help us prevent homicide, suicide, and non combat death.

If we think about violent crime committed by military personnel compared to violent crime statistics in the United States (reference above graph), at first glance it appears the military has a homicide ‘issue’ among the ranks. Please see the below links for a sample of crime on some of the U.S. military bases. All military bases worldwide will eventually be included in this research. And the research for sexual assault, rape, domestic violence, and physical assault specifically has not been conducted yet either. Because the research is far from being complete, it is too early to make any assumptions so I will put the data in one place and let you come to your own conclusions. But if military crime mirrors civilian crime statistics, one can deduce that if the military has a lot of homicide, there is even more rape. Currently the number one concern in the military is a Commander’s ability to give a non judicial punishment for a felony crime. A Commander can bypass the courts martial process simply by punishing and/or discharging the accused with a preponderance of the evidence. This does nothing to protect our military personnel and the civilians who live near our bases in America and worldwide. Predators do not discriminate. They are just as likely to harm civilians as they are military personnel. They know their rights and they know that jurisdiction issues and lack of communication among law enforcement agencies will help prolong getting caught. We need to be one step ahead.

We can’t get real violent crime numbers for the military bases unless we include those who died of non combat deaths while they were deployed. Veterans Noonie Fortin and Ann Wright inspired me to initially look into the non combat deaths of female soldiers overseas because they observed the unusually high number of female soldiers who died of non combat deaths during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their chief concern was that although the military labels a non combat death as a suicide, there are suspicions that some female soldiers were murdered, like LaVena Johnson, Amy Tirador, and Ciara Durkin. I did the research on every single female soldier who died from non combat deaths overseas and their concerns are valid. My research on non combat deaths in Iraq alone revealed that roughly 30% of female soldiers died as a result of homicide, suicide, and other unknown causes. I am working on collecting the data for male soldiers who died from non combat related injuries in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other areas. I started with 2010 so we can get the most recent cases but I will go back to September 11, 2001 in the next phase of data collection. The first male soldier non combat death case I found in 2010 was an unsolved homicide. His name was SSG Anton Phillips and he was stabbed to death in Afghanistan. Further research in this area has uncovered that non combat deaths of male soldiers are just as prevalent.

Learn more:
The US Military Recruited Violent Felons to Support the War Efforts
Non Combat Deaths of Female Soldiers in the US Military (Afghanistan)
Non Combat Deaths of Female Soldiers in the US Military (Iraq)
Non Combat Deaths of Female Soldiers in the US Military (Other Areas)
Violent Crime, Non Combat Death & Suicide at Fort Bragg, North Carolina (US Army)
Violent Crime, Non Combat Death & Suicide at Fort Campbell, Kentucky (US Army)
Violent Crime, Non Combat Death & Suicide at Fort Carson, Colorado (US Army)
Violent Crime, Non Combat Death & Suicide at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington
Violent Crime, Non Combat Death & Suicide at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas
Violent Crime at Fort Wainwright, Alaska (US Army)
Violent Crime at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska
A List of Soldiers Targeted & Murdered for the Servicemen’s Group Life Insurance Benefits
Rep Nikki Tsongas & Rep Mike Turner Host Educational Caucus: Improving Treatment Resources for Male Survivors of Military Sexual Trauma
An Open Letter to the Senate and House of Representatives in Support of the Military Justice Improvement Act
Letter of Support for Save Our Heroes in Our Shared Quest for Military Justice Reform & Constitutional Rights

Letter of Support for Save Our Heroes in Our Shared Quest for Military Justice Reform & Constitutional Rights

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October 1, 2016

U.S. House of Representatives
United States Senate
Washington, DC

To Whom It May Concern:

This is a letter of support for Save Our Heroes. We recognized immediately that Save Our Heroes and victims of crimes both want similar changes in the military justice system. Save Our Heroes is asking for three specific legislative/policy changes to restore fundamental fairness in the military justice system:

1. Remove all Commanders authority from decision-making in the legal system.
2. The number of panel members should be increased to 12 for General Courts Martial.
3. Any conviction at Courts Martial shall require a unanimous verdict.

These requests by Save Our Heroes are similar to the overall changes that victims of crimes in the military have lobbied for, specifically that Commanders be removed from the reporting and decision-making process because of fear of bias, lack of investigative training, and the power to discharge and/or punish with the stroke of a pen. Save Our Heroes is requesting the same changes because ultimately both the victims and accused are looking for a military justice system that mirrors the civilian justice system while respecting the need of the Commanding Officer to ensure discipline is maintained within their command. We want a justice system where crimes are reported to legal authorities and not a Commander who is an authority figure with the power to impact your entire life. We want a justice system where crimes will be investigated thoroughly by unbiased military criminal investigative organizations looking for the truth. We want a justice system that provides the same constitutional rights as those provided in the civilian justice system. Save Our Heroes is specifically asking for changes that are commonplace in the civilian justice system, like a jury of twelve of our peers and a unanimous verdict. Our military deserves no less.

Victims of crimes in the military are asking for a military justice system that provides due process for the accuser and the accused. Crime victims want the ability to go to trial based on an independent prosecutor’s decision to charge because there was sufficient evidence to move forward with a case. Crime victims want those people who level false accusations, and engage in other abuses of the process, to be held accountable. While we recognize that false reports represent a small percentage of total reports (between 2-8 percent based on Bureau of Justice Statistics data), those who do falsely accuse are hurting the real victims of these crimes and should be held accountable through the same impartial military justice system. Both the accusers and the accused are asking for due process, which is best accomplished by a system that mirrors the civilian justice system. Currently, Commanders have control of the process when the accused, accuser, defense attorneys, and prosecutors should have control over the process.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Norris, Military Justice for All
Stephanie Schroeder, US Human Rights Network & UN Board Member
Brian Lewis, Men Recovering from Military Sexual Trauma

Violent Crime, Suicide & Non Combat Death at Fort Campbell, Kentucky (US Army)

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*This research is not complete and includes combat deaths.

Fort Campbell is a United States Army installation located astride the Kentucky-Tennessee border between Hopkinsville, Kentucky, and Clarksville, Tennessee. Fort Campbell is home to the 101st Airborne Division and the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. The fort is named in honor of Union Army Brigadier General William Bowen Campbell, the last Whig Governor of Tennessee. -Wikipedia

2017:

Dillon Baldridge, US Army: Died in Apparent Insider Attack, Afghanistan
William Bays, US Army: Died in Apparent Insider Attack, Afghanistan
Isiah Booker, US Army: Non Combat Related Incident, Jordan
Eric Houck, US Army: Died in Apparent Insider Attack, Afghanistan

2016:

Dhaifal Ali, US Army: Death Ruled Accidental Drowning
Seth Brabant, US Army Veteran: Homicide Victim
Jeffrey Cooper, US Army: Non Combat Death, Vehicle Rollover, Kuwait
MarStratton Gordon, US Army: Homicide Victim
Kyle Heade, US Army: Charged with Theft/Attempted Homicide
Zachary James-Earl Ponder, US Army: Charged with Homicide
Matthew Lewellen, US Army: Ambushed at Military Base in Jordan
Shadow McClaine, US Army: Body Missing, Homicide
Kevin McEnroe, US Army: Ambushed at Military Base in Jordan
James Moriarty, US Army: Ambushed at Military Base in Jordan
Marcus Rogers, US Army: Failing to Follow Military Orders
Deashawn Thomas, US Army: Homicide/Suicide
Katelyn Thomas, US Army Spouse: Homicide Victim

2015:

Zackery Alexander, US Army: Charged with Homicide
Joseph Bankston, US Army Dependent: Homicide Victim
John Dawson, US Army: Attacked by Small Arms Fire, Afghanistan
Liperial Easterling, US Army: Homicide Victim
Terrence Harwell, US Army: Homicide Victim
Cornell Hurley Jr, US Army: Homicide
Kevin Rodriguez, US Army: Preventable Training Accident Death
Chelcee Sine-Garza, US Army: Attempted Homicide Victim
Annely Turner, US Army Spouse: Attempted Homicide
Malcolm Turner, US Army: Attempted Homicide
David Wi, US Army: Charged with Homicide

2014:

Christian Martin, US Army (2014): Wrongfully convicted SoH Board Member

2012:

Robbie Knight, US Army: Homicide
Frederic Moses, US Army: Homicide Victim
Jeremy Priddy, Civilian: Homicide Victim
Nery Ruiz, US Army: Sexual Abuse/Sodomy of Child
Benjamin Schweitzer, US Army: Reckless Homicide

2011:

Michael Korolevich, US Army: Homicide
Kathleen McGee, US Army Spouse: Homicide Victim

2010:

Linzi Jenks, US Army Spouse: Homicide Victim
Robert Jenks III, US Army: Homicide

2009:

Ashley Barnes, US Army: Homicide Victim
Khaleefa Lambert, US Army: Homicide

2008:

Ryan Baumann, US Army: Vehicle encountered IED, Afghanistan
Tracy Birkman, US Army: Non Combat Death, Iraq
Donald Carwile, US Army: Vehicle struck IED, ambushed, Afghanistan
Jennifer Cole, US Army: Negligent Homicide, Iraq
Paul Conlon, Jr., US Army: Vehicle struck IED, ambushed, Afghanistan

2007:

Alicia Birchett, US Army: Non-Combat Related Vehicle Accident, Iraq
Brent Burke, US Army: Homicide
Tracy Burke, US Army Spouse: Homicide Victim
Karen Comer, US Army Family: Homicide Victim

2006:

Steven Green, US Army: Rape/Homicide of Iraqi Civilian

2005:

LaVena Johnson, US Army: Death Ruled Suicide, Iraq

2003:

Hasan Akbar, US Army: Homicide, Death Sentence
Alyssa Peterson, US Army: Non-combat weapons discharge, Iraq

1999:

Barry Winchell, US Army: Homicide Victim

1996:

Laura Cecere, US Army: Homicide Victim
Max Roybal, US Army Spouse: Acquitted of Homicide

1994:

David Housler Jr, US Army: Homicide Conviction Overturned

Related Links:
Non Combat Deaths of Female Soldiers in the US Military (Iraq)
Non Combat Deaths of Female Soldiers in the US Military (Afghanistan)
Non Combat Deaths of Female Soldiers in the US Military (Other Areas)

A 2011 Documentary Gives You an Inside Look at Toxic Leadership in the US Army: On the Dark Side in Al Doura, Iraq


U.S. Army Ranger John Needham, who was awarded two purple hearts and three medals for heroism, wrote to military authorities in 2007 reporting war crimes that he witnessed being committed by his own command and fellow soldiers in Al Doura, Iraq. His charges were supported by atrocity photos which, in the public interest, are now released in this video. John paid a terrible price for his opposition to these acts. His story is tragic. –On the Dark Side in Al Doura

After watching the 2011 documentary ‘On the Dark Side in Al Doura’ which profiles the case of Army Private John Needham, one can clearly observe the similarities to ‘The Kill Team’ PBS documentary released in 2014. On the Dark Side in Al Doura interviewed Michael Needham, the father of John Needham, who was an Army whistleblower from Fort Carson, Colorado and reported witnessing war crimes and atrocities in Iraq; The Kill Team profiled Adam Winfield, an Army whistleblower from Fort Lewis, Washington who witnessed and tried to report the same war crimes and atrocities in Afghanistan. For the sake of preservation, both John Needham and Adam Winfield admitted feeling pressured to conform or risk their own lives if they didn’t. They both felt like they were being set up to die or participate in the war crimes. Both soldiers at times felt like suicide was their only way out because there was no safe place for them to report overseas nor could they escape the situation. If they made it out of the war zone alive, the return home didn’t fair well for them. The PBS documentary  ‘The Wounded Platoon’ released in 2010 reveals the impacts the wars overseas had on Fort Carson soldiers. After watching these three documentaries, it’s clear why our soldier’s combat experiences traumatized and changed some of them. They not only had to fight a credible threat on the battlefields but some were betrayed by the very team they depended on for their lives.

Michael Needham takes us through the series of events that occurred in the course of John’s short Army career. He shared how John was the fifth generation in the family to fight in a war. John volunteered to join the Army in the spring of 2006, went to Fort Benning, Georgia for training, and then got stationed at Fort Carson. John was an Army Ranger assigned to the 212th, 2nd Combat Team, 12th Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division. He was part of the infamous team known as the ‘Lethal Warriors’ which now appears to be disbanded. Part of his initiation into his new band of brothers was fighting other soldiers to determine where one fell in the pecking order. John held his own in the fights and was respected for his wins. According to John, the soldiers that didn’t fair so well in the fights were ‘smoked’ by leadership and peers, which ultimately forced them to leave, quit, or commit suicide. In October of 2006 John was deployed with his Fort Carson team to Al Doura, Iraq. His team was assigned to the Quarter Cav which was known for having some of the deadliest fights in the Iraq war.

John was a good soldier. He worked hard, saved lives in Iraq, and was awarded three medals for heroism and two Purple Hearts. John excelled as part of team, was brave, and his resilience was admirable. But during the course of John’s deployment, he witnessed war crimes and other atrocities committed by leadership and his fellow soldiers that affected his morale. John would also admit that initially he wasn’t quiet about it and when he did question superiors, he was told he didn’t have the right to question leadership. He didn’t dare report the war crimes via e-mail or telephone because he knew leadership could monitor everything. So for the sake of preservation and life’s sake, he did what he had to do to get by and stay alive. John would share that the Army was short of personnel so most of the soldiers got driven into the ground and deprived of sleep. After awhile John felt that he was forced into committing war atrocities that were illegal but feared if he didn’t do it, he would become a liability to the team and ultimately a casualty of his own people.

One night John was sent out on a mission with a Lieutenant (who did not commit war crimes yet remained silent). John thought this was unusual because they didn’t usually get sent out in pairs. They were ambushed by three shooters in the middle of the night who were determined to see them dead. When the shooting began, John pushed the Lieutenant to safety and kept the shooters at bay. He shot every round he had and when he was almost out of ammunition, he called the 212th for back-up on the radio but nobody answered him. Luckily another team was nearby who did answer him and was able to extract the soldiers from the situation and save their lives. It would be this incident that would break John’s spirit. He immediately suspected that he and the other soldier were sent on this mission to be killed. When he got back to the base, he began yelling “Why did you set us up?” And “If you want to kill me, kill me to my face!” But nobody acknowledged him so he went back to his tent where he decided that he would commit suicide. John was exhausted, irate, and he saw no way out. He didn’t want to live anymore. He felt that committing suicide was his only way out. John put a handgun to his head but just as he got ready to pull the trigger, his roommate dove and pushed the gun away from his head. The gun discharged and put a hole in the wall. Soldiers immediately began ascending upon the area. According to John, once leadership learned what happened, they held him down and beat him then locked him in captivity in a small room. The Battalion Commander was the one who kept John captive yet he didn’t press any formal charges.

John’s father Michael learned through John’s friends in Afghanistan that John was being held captive by the Battalion Commander. They were concerned about him. John’s family was already concerned about John’s earlier e-mails and posts on MySpace because it sounded like he had given up, which was not like him. With this information Michael Needham contacted Army commands, Fort Carson, Congressional leaders and the Army Inspector General (IG). He reports that the only office that took him seriously at the time was the IG. Michael was trying to save his son’s life. He told the IG that he didn’t want him to die. The IG’s office shared a list of rights for both John and Michael. And it was at this time Michael learned that he had third party rights and could intervene and act on John’s behalf. Michael was finally able to get in touch with the Battalion Commander only to learn that John was being treated like a criminal. The Battalion Commander informed Michael that John committed crimes and was being sent to prison in Kuwait. But Michael was able to intervene and get the Command to send him to medical instead. Medical determined that John was severely injured both physically and mentally. He had significant back injuries from the multiple explosions and blasts, shrapnel in his body, Traumatic Brain Injury, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Army medical in Iraq referred John to medical in Germany and from there he would be sent to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in the states. But not before the Battalion Commander would put up one more roadblock. Instead, Michael Needham won this battle and John was flown to Germany.

Eventually, John was sent to Ward 54 which is the psychiatric ward at Walter Reed. Michael shared that John appeared to like the psychiatric help he was getting. A month into John’s stay at Walter Reed, he was informed that the Iraq Battalion Commander contacted the 212th Command in Colorado and requested that John be sent back to Fort Carson where he was facing criminal charges including unlawful discharge of a weapon. They were making him go and sent armed guards to accompany him back to Fort Carson. Michael Needham tried to intervene with the 212th at Fort Carson but they said they couldn’t do anything because they had orders from the Battalion Commander. John was sent back to Fort Carson and the harassment he endured in Iraq continued with the 212th in Colorado. John shared that they mentally tortured him, banged on his barracks door, stole his things, and isolated him. It was at this time Michael elicited the help of a veteran advocate Andrew Pogany who went to the command in Colorado and held these people personally accountable. Andrew helps soldiers in John’s situation because he understands how important it is to intervene. John could not get the kind of help that he needed at Fort Carson. Michael shared that the soldiers could see a professional once a week if they were suicidal and once a month if they were not. John’s father wanted him transferred to a Naval Medical Center in San Diego for intensive treatment and so he could be closer to home. Andrew helped make that happen.

Michael began to understand the impacts the war had on his son after John got back to California. John couldn’t handle driving above 35 mph, was suspicious of trash on the side of the road, and was easily startled by loud noises. He could not function in public and suffered with what is known as flashbacks. The Naval Medical Center in San Diego recommended that John get surgery on his back right away. They warned him that he could become paralyzed if he didn’t get the surgery. In the meantime Johns father spoke candidly with one of the Navy doctors about the treatment John received both in Iraq and at Fort Carson. He reiterated that he was concerned about his well being and asked him to help him find a way to prevent John from being sent back to Fort Carson, Colorado. Michael Needham feared that if John got sent back to Fort Carson that he would not return. This doctor agreed to help John. And Andrew Pogany recommended that John report the war crimes to the Army in an effort to protect John from being complicit and implicated in the future. John reported to the Army that he witnessed both leadership and peers killing innocent Iraqi civilians during the October 2006 to October 2007 timeframe in and around Al Doura. It wasn’t long after John made the report that all the charges against him were dropped and Fort Carson gave the necessary approval to transfer him to Balboa Naval Command. John went in front of the medical board and was medically retired for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury, and back injuries. He was discharged honorably from the Army. The Army investigated John’s claims but concluded that no war crimes were committed.

Michael and John won a lot of battles with the US Army but soon they would lose the war. Just days after John was discharged from the Army, he would be accused of beating his new girlfriend to death with his bare hands. John Needham was charged with the murder of Jacqwelyn Villagomez and jailed for ten months until his family raised enough money to get him out on bail. John was not given treatment while jailed so the family was motivated to get him out so he could get the treatment he needed. John did in fact follow through with getting treatment and he learned a lot about himself in the process. He spent some time on camera talking about how the combat stress and the betrayal from his team impacted him. He talked about how he didn’t realize the significant impacts from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury. John recognized how PTSD and TBI did in fact play a role in his fight or flight response mechanisms and that it may be because these conditions went untreated that he disocciated, snapped and beat his girlfriend to death. The two were in a heated argument after Jacqwelyn attacked one of John’s female friends. Both of them were volatile but unfortunately there were no witnesses to the event as John’s friend was outside the home calling the police to report Jacqwelyn. While John was awaiting trial, he went to Arizona to get another surgery and visit with his mom. On February 19, 2010 following treatment at the Department of Veterans Affairs, John would be found dead in his room from an overdose on painkillers. The cause of death at autopsy was considered undetermined and it is unclear if John accidentally overdosed or committed suicide.

Brig. Gen. Stephen Xenakis, M.D. (Ret.), a former top military psychiatrist who until recently was a consultant to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told us: “[TBI ]most sensitively affects executive functioning, that part of the brain that we use for judgment and we use for decision making … when we are in situations of intense emotion. So if a person is affected neurologically … they don’t have the controls that they had before. … They can’t think as clearly. …They are really vulnerable to just reacting, overreacting, particularly maybe doing something that they had done when they’d been in combat.” –The Wounded Platoon

As a parent, Michael Needham has questions for the Army. Why don’t they even recognize the problem? Why don’t they take care of the soldiers? And why did they leave his son John Needham behind? The documentary ‘On the Dark Side in Al Doura’ concludes with the reminder that since the Patriot Act was passed and Dick Cheney declared that we needed to go into the shadows, the definition of torture has been blurred. The Abu Ghraib prisoner torture and abuse scandal erupted under the Bush administration in 2003 but no war crimes have been investigated under President Barack Obama’s administration. If the rule of law has been lost, what do we have? Our military personnel have a responsibility to abide by the rules established by the Geneva Conventions. John Needham and Adam Winfield both reported witnessing innocent civilians murdered by their fellow leadership and peers in Iraq and Afghanistan. They both also shared the impact the crimes had on their mental health and morale. They wished they could have reported the crimes to someone who would have listened and understood that their lives were in danger. We can learn a lot from John Needham and Adam Winfield; they have experienced what it’s like to be a whistleblower in the US Army. They have clearly illustrated what toxic leadership in the Army looks like and how whistleblowers in the US military have nowhere to turn.

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Private John Needham, US Army

Related Links:
Dateline NBC Mystery: Private Needhams War
PBS Documentary: The Wounded Platoon
On the Dark Side in Al Doura: A Soldier in the Shadows
PBS Documentary: The Kill Team
The PBS Documentary ‘The Kill Team’ Nominated for an Emmy
Retired Army Pvt John Needham Beat his Girlfriend Jacqwelyn Villagomez to Death, Then Died of an Overdose on Painkillers Awaiting Murder Trial (2008)
Honoring Jacqwelyn Villagomez who Died at the Hands of Retired Army Private John Needham (2008)

Fort Carson Army Soldiers Dustin Mincy, Roman Alred, Mykal Hall, and Aaron Perry Charged With First Degree Burglary, Felony Menacing, and Child Abuse (2016)

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Left to right: Dustin Mincy, Roman Alred, Mykal Hall, Aaran Perry (photo courtesy http://www.usjag.org)

Fort Carson Army soldiers Dustin Mincy, 20, Roman Alred, 20, Mykal Hall, 19, and Aaron Perry, 21, were arrested and charged with suspicion of first-degree burglary, felony menacing, and child abuse on July 24, 2016 in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Related Links:
4 Fort Carson soldiers accused in Colorado Springs armed home invasion identified
Four Fort Carson soldiers accused of home invasion robbery
Police: Children in home when Fort Carson soldiers threaten to shoot family
Fort Carson soldiers arrested after alleged Colorado Springs home invasion
4 Fort Carson soldiers accused of burglarizing home, threatening residents
Police: 4 soldiers arrested for Colo. home invasion, threatening family
Four Active Duty Army Soldiers at Ft. Carson Arrested on Felony Charges
4 Fort Carson soldiers arrested after Colorado Springs home invasion
Fort Carson soldiers arrested in Colorado home invasion case
Fort Carson soldiers arrested, facing charges for home invasion
Four Fort Carson soldiers facing charges after armed home invasion
Four Army soldiers ‘broke into couple’s Colorado home and threatened to kill them and their two children’
Violent Crime, Suicide and Non Combat Death at Fort Carson, Colorado (US Army)

Fort Carson Army Soldier Branden Harms Pleaded Guilty to Child Abuse Resulting in Death; Faced 40-48 Years in Prison at Sentencing (2016)

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Branden Harms, US Army

Fort Carson soldier Branden Harms, 28, admitted to raising his hand against 4-month-old Ava Bermudez inflicting injuries severe enough to kill her on April 18, 2016. Harms was entrusted to care for his girlfriend’s newborn daughter. Investigators say the injuries were inflicted while the child’s mother, also his live-in girlfriend, Jessica Bermudez, went out with a friend. Harms was arrested by the Fountain Police on April 19, 2016. Branden Harms pleaded guilty to child abuse resulting in death and also admitted to withholding medical care. He faced 40-48 years in prison at sentencing on May 16, 2017.

Taking a deep breath in court, Harms described how he “almost saw black” and then began to “excessively spank her. Sometime after that, I began to choke her,” he said. “Further after that, when I was putting her in her crib, I wasn’t gentle.” The former soldier suggested that he threw the girl into her crib with enough force to split its wooden bottom, sending the infant to the floor beneath. “After that,” he added, “I kind of snapped to, and it was too late.” –Colorado Gazette

Related Links:
Fountain man accused of murdering 4-month-old baby
Arrest made following death of 4-month-old
Fort Carson soldier arrested for death of 4-month-old
Fort Carson soldier charged in death of 4-month-old girl
Fort Carson soldier charged in death of 4-month-old girl
Fort Carson infantry scout jailed in connection with child’s death
New Information About Man Arrested For 4-Month-Old’s Death
Soldier to face trial in beating death of 4-month-old girl in Fountain
Fort Carson soldier acknowledges killing infant girl
Fort Carson soldier acknowledges killing infant girl
Ex-Fort Carson soldier admits to baby’s fatal injuries
Former Fort Carson soldier, Branden Harms, acknowledges killing infant girl
Man accused of killing infant pleads guilty
Violent Crime, Suicide and Non Combat Death at Fort Carson, Colorado (US Army)