Murder By Numbers Premiered ‘Friend of the Devil’ on Investigation Discovery: Itzcoatl Ocampo Accused of Murdering Six Homeless Men, Dies in Jail (September 4, 2018)

ID Go: Within a month, four men in Orange County are brutally stabbed by a mysterious man. No one makes a connection to a gruesome double murder of a mother and son two months earlier except the man sitting in prison for killing his own family. -Friend of the Devil, Murder By Numbers (S2, E4)

Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Ex-Marine
Number of victims: 6
Date of murders: October 25, 2011 – January 13, 2012
Date of arrest: January 13, 2012
Date of birth: 1988
Victims profile: Raquel Estrada (53) and Juan Herrera (34) / James McGillivray (53) / Lloyd “Jim” Middaugh (42) / Paulus Smit (57) / John Barry (64)
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: Orange County, California, USA
Status: In prison awaiting trial [Suicide]
via Itzcoatl Ocampo | Murderpedia

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.

In the News:

A serial killer is terrorizing the homeless community in Orange County, California. -CNN (January 10, 2012)

OC transients warned about serial killer -TheRealHomelessOCRM (January 18, 2012)

Itzcoatl Ocampo, the 23 year old Iraq War Veteran accused of fatally stabbing four homeless men in a serial killing spree in Orange County is behind bars, and the District Attorney is now characterizing him as a brazen, vicious killer who enjoyed getting media attention. -Garden Grove TV3 (January 19, 2012)

Friends of John Berry, the alleged victim of accused serial kill Itzcoatl Ocampo, braved a steady rain to remember the homeless man. Dozens of marchers took the one-mile route along the Santa Ana River Trail where Berry often stayed. Marisol Gonzalez reports on the impact John Berry had on his community. -Garden Grove TV3 (January 21, 2012)

Investigators with a multi-agency task force announced on Thursday that accused serial killer Itzcoatl Ocampo is being investigated in the murder of Juan Herrera and his mother Raquel in their Yorba Linda home last October. The two were stabbed to death according to Lt. Julian Harvey with the Homeless Homicide Task Force. Harvey also confirmed Ocampo is “associated” with a man already in custody for the two murders. He is Eder Giovanni Herrera – brother and son to the victims. Ocampo is accused of planning, stalking and then killing four homeless men during December 2011 and Janurary 2012. -Garden Grove TV3 (February 3, 2012)

The Anaheim Police Department, the OC Rescue Mission and the Vineyard Christian Fellowship joined together for a community event in the wake of serial killings that terrorized North Orange County. With a suspect now in custody, volunteers want to mobilize the community to help the Homeless. Marisol Gonzalez has the story plus an update on new charges leveled against accused serial killer Itzcoatl Ocampo. -Garden Grove TV3 (February 4, 2012)

Itzcoatl “Izzy” Ocampo, 23, held in the deaths of four homeless men, will be arraigned March 16 in the case involving the stabbing deaths of a classmate’s brother and mother. -Orange County Register (February 6, 2012)

Itzcoatl Ocampo is heard from beyond the grave. He explains to an investigator what made him kill. -CBS Los Angeles (May 1, 2014)

Itzcoatl Ocampo, the suspect in a brutal string of slayings of four homeless men had his arraignment delayed until Feb. 17. After the court appearance, Ocampo’s attorney spoke with reporters. -Orange County Register (September 1, 2015)

Related Links:
California police say they’ve caught killer
Suspect in Calif. homeless deaths a former Marine
Father of Itzcoatl Ocampo, suspected serial killer of Calif. homeless, was homeless
Father of Iraq war veteran who ‘killed four homeless men’ is HIMSELF homeless and lives out of a truck in a parking lot
California Homeless Killer Caught Thanks To ‘Donny,’ Heroic Father (VIDEO)
Accused Homeless Killer Was Covered in Blood and Not Mentally Ill, D.A. Says
Iraq veteran Itzcoatl Ocampo charged with homeless deaths
Iraq War veteran Itzcoatl Ocampo charged in serial killings of California homeless
Veteran Charged in Slayings of Four Homeless Men
Iraq war vet charged with first-degree murder in 4 homeless men’s deaths
Itzcoatl Ocampo, Iraq Vet, Charged With The First Degree Murder of Four Homeless Men
Suspect in CA killings returned from Iraq changed
Veteran charged with homeless murders: Hint of larger problem for US military?
2 more murder charges to be filed against suspected OC serial killer
2 new charges for suspect in Calif. homeless killings
Homeless Killer Suspect Accused of 2 More Murders
California homeless serial killer suspect to be tried in September
Transcript: Serial killer suspect stalked victims
‘I knew that I had the killer gene,’ accused Ocampo reveals in OC homeless killings case
Serial Killer’s Twisted Logic: Allegedly Murdered Homeless Victims as Community Service
‘It Had to Be Done,’ Says Admitted O.C. Serial Killer in Newly Released Video
DA to seek death penalty for homeless serial killer
Ex-Marine Accused of OC Homeless Killings Dies in Jail
Former US marine dies in prison awaiting trial for homeless murders
Ex-Marine charged in California homeless killings dies in hospital
California man charged in series of homeless slayings dies in cell before trial
Autopsy on Orange County inmate Itzcoatl Ocampo, suspect in homeless deaths, done but more tests needed
Itzcoatl Ocampo, accused in OC homeless killings, died in custody after swallowing Ajax
Lawyer: Ajax killed suspect in homeless slayings
Ex-Marine Accused Of Killing Homeless In California Dies In Hospital
Ex-Marine Charged In California Homeless Killings Dies In Hospital
Inmate’s Death Raises Questions About Treating PTSD in Jails
Funeral held for man suspected in homeless slayings
Itzcoatl “Izzy” Ocampo Says from the Grave That His Serial Killings of Homeless “Had to be Done:” Video
Natural born killer? Accused serial killer blames ‘kill gene’ for fatally stabbing six in California
How did an accused serial killer poison himself in jail?
Itzcoatl Ocampo | Murderpedia, the encyclopedia of murderers

Video Links:
Serial killer targets homeless men
OC transients warned about serial killer
Suspected Serial Killer Charged
Anaheim Community Healing in Wake of Serial Killings
Victim of Serial Killer Remembered
Anaheim Police Release Confession Tapes Of OC Serial Killer
Homeless slaying suspect reads Dr Seuss to little sister – 2012-01-16
Admitted Serial Killer explains why he killed homeless men
Attorney: Serial killings suspect was wrapped in ‘suicide blanket’
Admitted serial killer talks about why he kills
Suspect in serial homeless killings faces more charges
Is A Suspected Serial Killer Guilty of Earlier Crimes?
Izzy Ocampo Autopsy
Friend of the Devil | Murder By Numbers | Investigation Discovery (S2, E4)

August: U.S. Department of Defense Casualties Report from September 11, 2001 to Present (2017)

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August Casualties Reports from September 11, 2001 to Present:

August: Department of Defense Casualties Report (2002)
August: Department of Defense Casualties Report (2003)
August: Department of Defense Casualties Report (2004)
August: Department of Defense Casualties Report (2005)
August: Department of Defense Casualties Report (2006)
August: Department of Defense Casualties Report (2007)
August: Department of Defense Casualties Report (2008)
August: Department of Defense Casualties Report (2009)
August: Department of Defense Casualties Report (2010)
August: Department of Defense Casualties Report (2011)
August: Department of Defense Casualties Report (2012)
August: Department of Defense Casualties Report (2013)
August: Department of Defense Casualties Report (2014)
August: Department of Defense Casualties Report (2015)
August: Department of Defense Casualties Report (2016)
August: Department of Defense Casualties Report (2017)

Total Non Combat Deaths in August from 2001 to Present: 152

    • Medical: 9 (6%)
    • Accidents: 9 (6%)
    • Vehicle Accidents: 26 (17%)
    • Helicopter Crashes: 58 (38%)
    • Non Combat Related Incidents: 45 (30%)
    • Unspecified Causes: 5 (3%)

Total Combat Deaths in August from 2001 to Present:

Non Combat Deaths of Female Soldiers 2001 to Present:

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)

Total Non Combat Deaths of Female Soldiers 2001 to Present:

Non Combat Deaths of Soldiers in August 2003 (22):

07/31/2003:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: James Lambert III, 22, NCD, Iraq, Fort Bragg, North Carolina

08/05/2003:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: David Loyd, 44, NCD, Kuwait, Tennessee Army National Guard

08/05/2003:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Farao Letufuga, 20, NCD, Iraq, Fort Campbell, Kentucky

08/06/2003:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Zeferino Colunga, 20, NCD, Iraq, Fort Polk, Louisiana

08/06/2003:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Leonard Simmons, 33, NCD, Iraq, Fort Campbell, Kentucky

08/07/2003:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Duane Longstreth, 19, NCD, Iraq, Fort Bragg, North Carolina

08/08/2003:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Matthew Bush, 20, NCD, Iraq, Fort Hood, Texas

08/08/2003:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Brandon Ramsey, 21, NCD, Iraq, Illinois Army National Guard

08/09/2003:  DoD Identifies Army Casualties: Floyd Knighten Jr, 55, and Levi Kinchen, 21, NCDs, Iraq, Fort Polk, Louisiana

08/11/2003:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: David Perry, 36, NCD, Iraq, California Army National Guard

08/12/2003:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Richard Eaton Jr, 37, NCD, Iraq, Fort Meade, Maryland

08/12/2003:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Daniel Parker, 18, NCD, Iraq, Fort Campbell, Kentucky

08/14/2003:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: David Kirchhoff, 31, NCD, Iraq, Iowa Army National Guard

08/20/2003:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Kenneth Harris, Jr, 23, NCD, Tennessee Army Reserve

08/21/2003:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Michael Adams, 20, NCD, Iraq, Baumholder, Germany

08/21/2003:  DoD Identifies Navy Casualty: Kylan Jones-Huffman, 31, NCD, Iraq, I Marine Expeditionary Force

08/23/2003:  DoD Identifies Army Casualties: Stephen Scott, 21, and Vorn Mack, 19, NCDs, Iraq, Fort Carson, Colorado

08/25/2003:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Ronald Allen Jr, 22, NCD, Iraq, Fort Carson, Colorado

08/25/2003:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Pablo Manzano, 19, NCD, Iraq, Bamberg, Germany

08/27/2003:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Anthony Sherman, 43, NCD, Kuwait, Pennsylvania Army Reserve

Non Combat Deaths of Male Soldiers in August 2004 (8):

07/30/2004:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Tommy Gray, 34, NCD, Iraq, Fort Hood, Texas

08/03/2004:  DoD Identifies Marine Casualty: Gregory Ratzlaff, 36, NCD, Iraq, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, San Diego, California

08/07/2004:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: David Potter, 22, NCD, Iraq, Fort Hood, Texas

08/21/2004:  DoD Identifies Marine Casualty: Edward Reeder, 32, NCD, Iraq, Camp Pendleton, California

08/24/2004:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Donald Davis, 42, NCD, Iraq, Ohio Army Reserve

08/27/2004:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Luis Perez, 19, NCD, Iraq, Pennyslvania Army Reserve

08/27/2004:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Omead Razani, 19, NCD, Iraq, Camp Greaves, Korea

08/27/2004:  DoD Identifies Marine Casualtiy: Nickalous Aldrich, 21, NCD, Iraq, Camp Pendleton, California

Non Combat Deaths of Soldiers in August 2005 (13):

07/30/2005:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Jason Scheuerman, 20, NCD, Iraq, Fort Benning, Georgia

08/02/2005:  DoD Identifies Navy Casualty: Thomas Hull, 41, NCD, Arabian Gulf, USS Princeton, San Diego, California

08/04/2005:  DoD Identifies Army Casualties: Damian Garza, 19, and John Henderson Jr, 21, NCD, Afghanistan, Fort Benning, Georgia

08/05/2005:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Brett Walden, 40, NCD, Iraq, Fort Campbell, Kentucky

08/05/2005:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Robert Derenda, 42, NCD, Iraq, New York Army Reserve

08/11/2005:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Jeremy Chandler, 30, NCD, Afghanistan, Fort Bragg, North Carolina

08/12/2005:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Rusty Bell, 21, NCD, Iraq, Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia

08/15/2005:  DoD Identifies Army Casualties: Thomas Strickland, 27, Joshua Dingler, 19, and Paul Saylor, 21, NCDs, Iraq, Georgia Army National Guard

08/21/2005:  DoD Identifies Army Casualties: Elden Arcand, 22, and Brian Morris, 38, NCDs, Iraq, Fort Carson, Colorado

Non Combat Deaths of Soldiers in August 2006 (8):

08/05/2006:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Daniel Suplee, 39, NCD, Iraq, Florida Army National Guard

08/07/2006:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Leroy Segura Jr, 23, NCD, Iraq, Fort Benning, Georgia

08/11/2006:  DoD Announces Army Casualties: Steven Mennemeyer, 26, and Jeffery Brown, 25, NCD, Iraq, Fort Riley, Kansas

08/24/2006:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Ruben Villa Jr, 36, NCD, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait

08/29/2006:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Jeffrey Hansen, 31, NCD, Iraq, Nebraska Army National Guard

08/29/2006:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Darry Benson, 46, NCD, Kuwait, North Carolina Army National Guard

08/30/2006:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Matthew Schneider, 23, NCD, Iraq, Wiesbaden, Germany

Non Combat Deaths of Soldiers in August 2007 (30):

08/06/2007:  DoD Identifies Air Force Casualty: Joey Link, 29, NCD, Germany, Dyess Air Force Base, Texas

08/10/2007:  DoD Identifies Marine Casualty: Reynold Armand, 21, NCD, Iraq, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina

08/13/2007:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Joan Duran, 24, NCD, Iraq, Fort Bragg, North Carolina

08/13/2007:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Alan Austin, 21, NCD, Afghanistan, Fort Bragg, North Carolina

08/15/2007:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Alicia Birchett, 29, NCD, Iraq, Fort Campbell, Kentucky

08/16/2007:  DoD Identifies Army Casualties: Christopher Johnson, 31, Jackie McFarlane Jr, 30, Sean Fisher, 29, Stanley Reynolds, 37, and Steven Jewell, 26, NCD, Iraq, Fort Wainwright, Alaska

08/20/2007:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Michael Fielder, 35, NCD, Iraq, Fort Bragg, North Carolina

08/20/2007:  DoD Identifies Army Casualties: Paul Norris, 30, and Kamisha Block, 20, NCD, Iraq, Fort Hood, Texas

08/22/2007:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: George Libby, 23, NCD, Afghanistan, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington

08/23/2007:  DoD Identifies Army Casualties: Derek Dobogal, 26, Jason Paton, 25, Garrett McLead, 23, Jeremy Boufard, 21, Phillip Brodnick, 25, Joshua Harmon, 20, Nathan Hubbard, 21, Michael Hook, 25, Jessy Pollard, 22, and Tyler Seideman, 20, NCD, Iraq, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii

08/23/2007:  DoD Identifies Army Casualties: Corry Tyler, 29, Paul Flynn, 28, Matthew Tallman, 30, Rickey Bell, 21, NCD, Iraq, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington

08/25/2007:  DoD Identifies Army Casualties: Scott Carney, 37, NCD, Afghanistan, Iowa Army National Guard

08/25/2007:  DoD Identifies Army Casualties: Daniel Miller, 43, NCD, Afghanistan, Fort Riley, Kansas

Non Combat Deaths of Soldiers in August 2008 (13):

08/04/2008:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Kevin Dickson, 21, NCD, Iraq, Fort Carson, Colorado

08/04/2008:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Andre Mitchell, 25, NCD, Iraq, Fort Hood, Texas

08/04/2008:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Jennifer Cole, 34, NCD, Iraq, Fort Campbell, Kentucky

08/05/2008:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Brian Miller, 37, NCD, Iraq, Indiana Army National Guard

08/06/2008:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Timothy Hutton, 21, NCD, Iraq, Bamberg, Germany

08/06/2008:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Ronald Schmidt, 18, NCD, Iraq, Kansas Army National Guard

08/07/2008:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Errol James, 29, NCD, Afghanistan, Grafenwoehr, Germany

08/09/2008:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Danny Maybin, 47, NCD, Kuwait, Fort McPherson, Georgia

08/11/2008:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: John Mattox, 23, NCD, Afghanistan, Fort Hood, Texas

08/19/2008:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Janelle King, 23, NCD, Iraq, Fort Polk, Louisiana

08/19/2008:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Jonathon Luscher, 20, NCD, Afghanistan, Pennsylvania Army National Guard

08/20/2008:  DoD Identifies Marine Casualty: Travis Stottlemyer, 20, NCD, Bahrain, Marine Corps Security Forces, Norfolk, Va

08/24/2008:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: David Paquet, 26, NCD, Afghanistan, Fort Hood, Texas

Non Combat Deaths of Soldiers in August 2009 (7):

08/05/2009:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Keiffer Wilhelm, 19, NCD, Iraq, Fort Bliss, Texas

08/10/2009:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Tara Smith, 33, NCD, Afghanistan, Fort Bragg, North Carolina

08/10/2009:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Matthew Swanson, 20, NCD, Afghanistan, Fort Drum, New York

08/11/2009:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Richard Walters Jr, 41, NCD, Kuwait, Fort Benning, Georgia

08/20/2009:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Matthew Hastings, 23, NCD, Iraq, Fort Hood, Texas

08/20/2009:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Paul Dumont, Jr, 23, NCD, Afghanistan, Fort Eustis, Virginia

08/26/2009:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Darby Morin, 25, NCD, Afghanistan, Fort Drum, New York

Non Combat Deaths of Soldiers in August 2010 (0):

Non Combat Deaths of Soldiers in August 2011 (35):

08/05/2011:  DOD Identifies Army Casualty: Barun Rai, 24, NCD, Afghanistan, Bamberg, Germany

08/06/2011:  DOD Identifies Army Casualty: Jinsu Lee, 34, NCD, Afghanistan, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii

08/11/2011:  DOD Identifies 3 US Air Force Service Members Killed In CH-47 Crash: John Brown, 33, Andrew Harvell, 26, and Daniel Zerbe, 28, NCDs, Afghanistan, Pope Field, North Carolina

08/11/2011:  DOD Identifies 5 US Army Service Members Killed In CH-47 Crash: David Carter, 47, Bryan Nichols, 31, Patrick Hamburger, 30, Alexander Bennett, 24, and Spencer Duncan, 21, NCDs, Afghanistan, Army General Support Aviation Battalion

08/11/2011:  DOD Identifies 2 US Navy Service Members Killed In CH-47 Crash: Jesse Pittman, 27, and Nicholas Spehar, 24, NCDs, Afghanistan, West Coast-based Naval Special Warfare

08/11/2011:  DOD Identifies 20 US Navy Service Members Killed In CH-47 Crash: Jonas Kelsall, 29, Louis Langlais, 44, Thomas Ratzlaff, 34, Kraig Vickers, 36, Brian Bill, 31, John Faas, 31, Kevin Houston, 35, Matthew Mason, 37, Stephen Mills, 35, Nicholas Hull, 30, Robert Reeves, 32, Heath Robinson, 34, Darrik Benson, 28, Christopher Campbell, 36, Jared Day, 28, John Douangdara, 26, Michael Strange, 25, Jon Tumilson, 35, Aaron Vaughn, 30, and Jason Workman, 32, NCDs, Afghanistan, East Coast-based Naval Special Warfare

08/15/2011:  DOD Identifies Army Casualty: Joe Cunningham, 27, NCD, Afghanistan, Oklahoma Army National Guard

08/17/2011:  DOD Identifies Army Casualty: Dennis Jensen, 21, NCD, Afghanistan, South Dakota Army National Guard

08/17/2011:  DOD Identifies Army Casualty: Joshua Seals, 21, NCD, Afghanistan, Oklahoma Army National Guard

Non Combat Deaths of Soldiers in August 2012 (10):

08/20/2012:  DOD Identifies 1 Navy Casualty in Helicopter Crash: Sean Carson, 32, NCDs, Afghanistan, EOD, San Diego, California

08/20/2012:  DOD Identifies 2 Navy Casualties in Helicopter Crash: Patrick Feeks, 28, and David Warsen, 27, NCDs, Afghanistan, West Coast-based Naval Special Warfare

08/20/2012:  DOD Identifies 4 Army Casualties in Helicopter Crash: Brian Hornsby, 37, Suresh Krause, 29, Richard Essex, 23, and Luis Oliver Galbreath, NCDs, Afghanistan, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii

08/21/2012:  DOD Identifies Army Casualty: David V. Williams, 24, NCD, Afghanistan, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington

08/26/2012:  DOD Identifies Army Casualty: Patricia Horne, 20, NCD, Afghanistan, Fort Campbell, Kentucky

08/28/2012:  DOD Identifies Army Casualty: Jessica Wing, 42, NCD, Kuwait, Maine Army National Guard

Non Combat Deaths of Soldiers in August 2013 (1):

08/20/2013:  DOD Identifies Army Casualty: Timothy Santos Jr, 29, NCD, Kuwait, Fort Bliss, Texas

Non Combat Deaths of Soldiers in August 2014 (2):

08/04/2014:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Girard Gass Jr, 33, NCD, Afghanistan, Fort Bragg, North Carolina

08/24/2014:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Christopher Mulalley, 26, NCD, Afghanistan, Fort Hood, Texas

Non Combat Deaths of Soldiers in August 2015 (0):

Non Combat Deaths of Soldiers in August 2016 (2):

Aug. 6, 2016: DOD Identifies Air Force Casualty: Flando Jackson, 45, NCD, Qatar, Washington Air National Guard

Aug. 14, 2016: DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Christopher Wilbur, 36, NCD, Afghanistan, Fort Carson, Colorado

Non Combat Deaths of Soldiers in August 2017 (1):

August 3, 2017: DoD Identifies Air Force Casualty: David Board, 49, NCD, Kuwait, West Virginia Air National Guard

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)

Fear Thy Neighbor Premiered ‘Good Fences Make Dead Neighbors’ on Investigation Discovery: Paul Tracey Created a Kill Zone & Fatally Shot Anthony Davis (May 4, 2015)

ID Go: Instead of a brand new start, a man’s move to Canyon Country, California, finds him locked in a bizarre and increasingly acrimonious eight year feud with his neighbor –that is finally resolved with blasts from a shotgun. -Good Fences Make Dead Neighbors, Fear Thy Neighbor (S2, E4)

Date: September 24, 2011
Homicide Victim: Anthony ‘Tony’ Davis, disabled, teacher
Offender: Lennie Paul Tracey, 51, Army veteran (self-described), disabled
Location: Santa Clarita, California
Circumstances: Escalating neighborhood dispute, Paul created a military kill zone on his property, Paul lured Tony and shot him twice, homicide, Paul stated he discharged weapon in anger, claimed he was an Army veteran (incriminated self), obsessed with what neighbors were up to, paranoid, video recording revealed premeditated murder
Disposition: Paul Tracey claimed self-defense, found guilty of first degree murder, sentenced to 50 years in prison for Tony’s homicide and 14 years in prison for threatening to kill Cindy Davis

Related Links:
Anthony Davis, 51 [Update]
Canyon Country Man Murdered
Canyon Country Man Murdered Over Neighborhood Dispute
Man allegedly killed neighbor over years-long dispute in Santa Clarita
Man Killed Outside His Home, Neighbor Suspected
Man allegedly kills neighbor in dispute over lights
Kill Thy Neighbor: Canyon Country Man Murdered
Valley News: Neighbor Killing (San Fernando)
Neighbors’ feud over lights leads to murder charge
Wife of alleged murderer takes the stand
Canyon Country man found guilty of murder
Man convicted of killing neighbor in feud over lights
Canyon Country man guilty of killing neighbor after feud over lighting
Lennie Paul Tracey Convicted of Murdering Neighbor Anthony Jay Davis
Sentencing of Canyon Country Murderer Delayed
Canyon Country Shotgun Killer Gets 50 to Life
Canyon Country Man Receives 64 Years For Murder, Assault Charges
Anthony Davis’s neighbor Lennie Paul Tracey shot him twice with a shotgun after dispute escalated – Fear Thy Neighbor
Lennie Paul Tracey | True Crime Stories
Good Fences Make Dead Neighbors | Fear Thy Neighbor | Investigation Discovery (S2, E4)

Link

USAF SealInsider outrage: Maj. Phil Ambard, 44

The U.S. military didn’t call the shooting a “green-on-blue” or “insider” attack. On April 27, 2011, when Linda Ambard’s husband and eight other Americans were gunned down by an Afghan ally, the only label the military put on it was “anomaly.”

The Afghan who opened fire at the Kabul airport snapped, the military said, in what was an event too rare to be considered anything more than an isolated tragedy.

Read more: http://www.stripes.com/insider-outrage-maj-phil-ambard-44-1.191939

Fort Hood Army Soldier Michael Bailey II Allegedly Committed Suicide, Family Petitions Military and Killeen PD to Investigate Death as Murder (2011)

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Spc. Michael Henry Bailey II, US Army, died on December 29, 2011 from injuries sustained from a gunshot wound on December 23, 2011. He was assigned to 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, in Fort Hood, Texas. Spc. Bailey deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from May 2011 to November 2011. At the time of the Army press release, the incident was under investigation. According to a family petition, they believe that there was more evidence supporting murder then suicide. They asked the Army and the Killeen Police Department to investigate the circumstances further as they believe that someone close to Spc. Bailey’s life had motive (life insurance) and this person was allegedly present at the location on the day of the shooting.

Related Links:
Death of a Fort Hood soldier: Spc. Michael Henry Bailey II
‘Black Jack’ troopers mourn loss of Soldier
Justice for Army Spec E4 Michael Henry Bailey
Violent Crime, Suicide, and Non Combat Death at Fort Hood, Texas (US Army)

Lauterbach Sexual Assault Case Prompts Policy Reforms in Military

Maria LauterbachThe family of slain Marine Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach is hailing recent provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act that profoundly change the way the Department of Defense will handle sexual assault charges.

The Defense STRONG Act has cleared both the House and the Senate and is awaiting President Barack Obama’s signature. Provisions include access to legal counsel for victims and the right to request a base transfer.

Lauterbach’s mother, Mary Lauterbach of Vandalia, said the new law would have made the difference in the case of her daughter, who was denied a base transfer after accusing fellow Marine Cesar Laurean of sexual assault. “Maria would be alive today if the base transfer had been available to her,” she said.

Turner concurred, “In civilian life you have complete control of your movements, and if you’re in an unsafe situation you can remove yourself. In military life, the victim needs permission to take even basic self-preservation actions.”

Key changes in military policy

  • By executive order, communication between victims and victim advocates will now be privileged. Previously conversations between victim and victim advocates can be subpoenaed in court, making victims reluctant to come forward. Pending legislation HR 1540, passed by both the House and Senate, provides for:
  • Legal assistance for victims of sexual assault. Previously, only defendants in the military have been guaranteed access to a lawyer.
  • Stricter training guidelines and greater oversight for Sexual Assault Response Coordinators and Sexual Assault Victim Advocates.
  • Retention of sexual assault records with lifetime access for service members.
  • The victim’s right to a base transfer or unit transfer. Under the new law, these requests will be expedited, with decisions being made within 72 hours and the bias should be in favor of the victim.

Read more here.

Spc Mikayla Bragg Died of a Non Combat Death in Afghanistan, Army Ruled Suicide & Report Calls for Continuity of Healthcare in Deployed Locations (2011)

Spc Mikayla Bragg, US Army (2011)

Spc Mikayla Bragg, US Army

Army Specialist Mikayla Bragg died of a non combat death in Khowst province, Afghanistan on December 21, 2011. Spc. Bragg was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom on behalf of the 201st Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division in Fort Knox, Kentucky. The Army ruled that Spc. Bragg’s cause of death was suicide. After an investigation it was revealed that commanders at Fort Knox failed to properly track Spc. Bragg as a “high-risk” soldier who could potentially hurt herself or others before she was cleared to deploy to Afghanistan. The Army investigators also made three recommendations in the report.

  1. Mental-health providers stateside should share more information about high-risk soldiers with mental-health providers in war zones. Camp Salerno’s behavioral-health officer said she had been unable to get mental-health records for Bragg because of privacy laws.
  2. Commanders should develop better procedures to ensure personnel data is not lost while transferring soldiers between units.
  3. No soldier, regardless of gender, should be stationed in a guard tower alone.

Related Links:
DOD Identifies Army Casualty
Army Spc. Mikayla A. Bragg
Fort Knox soldier killed in Afghanistan
Longview soldier killed in Afghanistan
Longview soldier killed in Afghanistan (KOMO)
Longview soldier killed in Afghanistan (HeraldNet)
U.S. Army specialist from Longview killed in Afghanistan
Army Specialist with Ties to Shelton Killed in Afghanistan
Family, friends remember U.S. Army specialist from Longview killed in Afghanistan
Army Spc. Mikayla A. Bragg honored in dignified transfer Dec. 24
Flags lowered to honor Longview soldier
Jan. 5: Flags at Half-Staff in Honor of Mikayla Bragg
Report Finds Female Soldier Committed Suicide In Afghanistan
Longview soldier killed herself, report says
Longview soldier killed herself, report says (AP)
Report: Longview soldier committed suicide
Public Federal Way memorial honors Spc. Mikayla Bragg
Updated: The War Dead Since Sept. 21, 2011
The Unknown Soldiers: A Box of Flowers
Signs of respect in Holliston for Memorial Day
Vancouver Memorial Day ceremony pays tribute to region’s war dead
Confidentiality Speaking
‘Fell through the cracks’: Could Longview soldier’s death have been avoided?
139 Female Soldiers Have Died in Iraq and Afghanistan
How Longview, Wash.’s Mikayla Bragg ‘fell through the cracks’
How Mikayla Bragg and 31 Soldiers “Fell Through The Cracks”
Army vet leads charge to create memorial for fallen Longview soldier
Thieves steal monument to Washington soldier who died in Afghanistan

Vietnam Veteran Francis Patrick Fleming, US Navy, Targeted & Stabbed to Death By Brenda Nicholas & Charles Jungbluth for $60,000 Coin Collection (2011)

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Francis Patrick Fleming, US Navy Veteran (Vietnam War)

Vietnam veteran Francis Patrick Fleming, 70, US Navy, was found stabbed to death in his elderly apartment complex at the Four Freedoms in Seattle, Washington on December 8, 2011. Patrick’s girlfriend Rosemary Garnett found him after she was not able to reach him by phone. Patrick had been stabbed and his throat was cut in what looked like a struggle for his life. Patrick’s apartment had been ransacked and his valuable coin collection was gone. A witness saw three women much too young to live at the complex in the building that night but did not know who they were. They appeared to be in costume and were wearing wigs. Rosemary told detectives that she planned to marry Patrick and the only other person close to him was another resident by the name of Sylvia Sutton who had moved out of the apartment complex in a hurry a few months earlier. Rosemary shared that she became uneasy when she observed that Patrick was showing off both his war medals (including two Purple Hearts) and his coin collection valued at $60,000 in this part of town. Rosemary was suspicious of Sylvia because of how much time they spent together and some of the people Sylvia introduced him to. When detectives finally caught up with Sylvia Sutton, they learned that she was a victim of crime too. She had been swindled of her million dollar life savings by a woman using the name Monica Marks. Monica Marks was an alias for Brenda Nicholas and Sylvia positively identified that they were one in the same. Brenda had a prior conviction for drugging an elderly male. She would offer to take him out for a milkshake, put drugs in his milkshake, and then go to the ATM cash machine. Brenda was also connected to a robbery case. Brenda had an extensive criminal record and a connection to a Gypsy crime ring that started with sweetheart scams and escalated to murder and violence.

After Brenda Nicholas’ home was searched, police discovered a brief case with a piece of paper in it bearing Patrick Fleming’s name. A second blood sample belonging to an unknown male was found at the scene of the crime so now police needed to connect this sample to people who associated with Brenda. Archie Marks was identified as a person of interest because of his relationship with Brenda Nicholas but he was not a match. Sylvia’s driver, Charles Jungbluth, was also interviewed and tested despite having no criminal history. Although Jungbluth gave detectives nothing to work with in the interview, his DNA was compared to the DNA found at the crime scene and it was a match. Jungbluth admitted that he targeted Patrick Fleming with Brenda Nicholas and Gilda Ramirez. He shared that they dressed in disguises and used a ruse to enter the apartment. When Patrick didn’t fall for it, Brenda pushed them all in the door. They immediately started stabbing Patrick. In the course of the murder, Brenda stabbed Charles because he wasn’t stabbing Patrick hard enough. As a result, Charles left behind blood that sealed their fate. Detectives suspect that they most likely killed Patrick to eliminate a living witness. On July 2, 2012, Brenda Nicholas was arrested and charged with over 50 crimes in relation to Sylvia Sutton. After Jungbluth’s confession, Nicholas was charged with murder too. On November 8, 2012, Brenda Nicholas’ murder trial began. Brenda tried to blame her upbringing in the gypsy community for her wicked ways but the jury wasn’t buying it. Brenda Nicholas was found guilty and sentenced t0 34 years in prison for murder. Charles Jungbluth was found guilty and sentenced to 22 years in prison. And Gilda Ramirez got six years in prison because she did not stab Patrick. Francis Patrick Fleming rests with full honors at the Tahoma National Cemetery in Washington. Rosemary shared that Patrick made her feel complete.

Related Links:
Suspect Arrested In Bloody Bitter Lake Murder
Murder charged in Seattle coin collection robbery
Murder charge filed against Seattle woman accused in palm reader scam
3rd person charged in December slaying of North Seattle man
2 plead not guilty to killing 70-year-old Navy veteran
Seattle woman charged in gruesome murder of elderly Navy vet
Torture, rare coins, psychic readings key elements in brutal slaying
Woman found guilty in brutal murder of Bitter Lake man
Guilty verdict in murder, robbery of elderly Bitter Lake man
Woman sentenced in vicious killing of Seattle veteran
Woman gets 34 years in brutal murder of Purple Heart veteran
Man convicted in N. Seattle torture killing sentenced to prison
22-year sentence in stabbing death of Bitter Lake man
Torture Murder Kirkland Police Helped Solve Draws 22-Year Sentence
King County Prosecutor’s Post: Case Updates (2013)
Investigation Discovery Takes an In-Depth Look at America’s Most Horrific Crimes with the All-New Series Killer Instinct with Chris Hansen
Murderpedia: Brenda Nicholas
Dead of Night: Misfortune Teller (YouTube)
Killer Instinct with Chris Hansen: Senseless in Seattle (YouTube)


When an elderly Vietnam vet is stabbed to death, Seattle detectives expose a crime ring led by a Gypsy con woman and killer. Finally she’s exposed for defrauding millions from her victims and murdering those who’ve stood in her way. -Discovery ID

Homicide Hunter Premiered ‘Secret Life’ on Investigation Discovery: Nolly Depadua Strangled Married Woman to Silence Sextortion Threats (November 22, 2011)

ID Go: After Lourdes Riddle in found strangled to death in the trunk of her car, homicide detective Joe Kenda follows the trail through a twisting maze of military and cultural secrets. Just what was Lourdes doing behind her husband’s back? -Secret Life, Homicide Hunter (S1, E5)

Investigation Discovery featured back to back episodes of Homicide Hunter with Lt. Joe Kenda. Kenda is a retired detective from the Colorado Springs Police Department. Colorado Springs is also the home of US Army base Fort Carson and Peterson Air Force Base. As a result, Lt. Kenda worked closely with investigating authorities at both bases throughout the years when one of his murder cases involved a member of the military or their dependents. If a crime against a military member or their dependents occurred off-base within the jurisdiction of Colorado Springs, Lt. Joe Kenda had the legal authority to investigate the strangling death of an Air Force wife found in the jurisdiction of Colorado Springs.

Construction workers found an abandoned car that had been set on fire on their property on March 26, 1985. The scene looked suspicious so they contacted the police to investigate the situation. The police found Air Force spouse Lourdes Riddle strangled to death in the trunk of her own car. Lt. Joe Kenda was called to the scene to investigate the crime further and determined that whoever killed Lourdes also tried to cover up their crime. They found that an accelerant (gasoline) was used to burn the car and a brick was on the driver’s side floor of the car (as if it was used to hold down the gas pedal). As Kenda was processing the crime scene, two Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) personnel showed up and claimed they were taking charge of the investigation. They informed Kenda they had the husband, TSgt Mark Riddle, who worked at NORAD, Cheyenne Mountain, in custody on Peterson AFB.

Kenda’s response to the Air Force Office of Special Investigations personnel was priceless and proves that he truly is a fierce detective that all law enforcement should emulate. He was not intimidated by the feds in the least bit when the crime occurred in his jurisdiction. He shared that even it was their house, how dare they walk into his crime scene. Kenda was absolutely shocked when they shared they had enlisted soldier, Mark Riddle, in their office at Peterson AFB. Their attitude was that it was obvious who did it because in most cases it was the husband or boyfriend. When in fact, Kenda was disappointed that they may have tainted the case by initiating an ‘immediate arrest’. He was afraid that this outside agency, who had no jurisdiction, had advised Mark Riddle of his rights and he would want a lawyer now. His guilt was not obvious to Kenda who did not automatically assume that the husband committed the crime. He simply wanted to talk to him, not accuse him. Kenda felt that their actions may prevent him from doing an interview which could really damage the case. Kenda admitted to making mistakes in his lifetime but he also shared that he gets really upset when someone else makes them for him. If all investigators operated like Kenda and made assumptions based on fact finding, we could better protect the due process rights of individuals.

Kenda gains access to Mark Riddle and learns that Lourdes is a 31 year old from the Philliphines who has been married to him for nine years. There was in fact trouble in paradise and Mark admitted that his wife had been spending time with and maybe even sleeping with other men. They were not happily married. He claimed he was home the night of the murder and had no alibi. Mark asked for a polygraph test to prove his innocence and passed it, then let the investigators search his home. Although adultery is a motive for murder, Kenda determined that Mark Riddle was honest, credible, and was no longer considered a suspect. This case was not a sex crime but it was a personal and angry crime as evidenced by the ligature strangulation. Kenda felt that this person wanted to punish her and wanted to feel her die. This person was deemed the “Pantyhose Strangler” in the media. After talking to Lourdes family, Kenda learned that Lourdes was threatened by more then one person. Kenda wasn’t sure if she was a target because of Mark’s work at a secret military base or if it was because of her own secret life.

The Air Force couple lived on Peterson AFB. Kenda learned that Lourdes went to night clubs that soldiers frequented. She was into the nightlife, partying, and dancing. Her neighbors reported that she was in and out of the house all the time, usually dressed up with high heels, short skirts and make-up. During Kenda’s investigation into the circumstances of Lourdes secret life, rumors began to circulate at the enlisted men’s club on Fort Carson that she was extorting Army soldiers. In the meantime because of media coverage, an eye witness came forward with a description of a suspect that was found near the scene of the crime that night. He was a black male about 6’8. Kenda asked those who frequented the enlisted club on base if she was dating anyone matching the description. He learned that she only dated Phillipino men and wouldn’t give any other guy the time of day. The rumor was that she draws soldiers in like a Venis flytrap. She specifically sought out Phillipino soldiers. She would have a relationship with them, claim that she was pregnant, and threaten to go to their military Commander if they did not give her money for an abortion.

Lt. Kenda learned of blackmail accusations involving Nolly Depadua, a Phillipino soldier stationed at Fort Carson. Nolly had a friend named Brian Hawkins, also a Fort Carson soldier, who matched the description of the suspect described near the scene of the crime the night Lourdes was murdered. Kenda spoke to Brian with the approach that the facts would give him a theory. Initially Hawkins denied any involvement but Kenda believed that he was lying based on his body language during the interview. He requested he undergo a polygraph test and Hawkins failed miserably. When confronted with the results, Hawkins begins to cry. Hawkins told Kenda that Lourdes wanted money from Nolly Depadua. She claimed she was pregnant and was going to contact the Commander if he didn’t give her money. Nolly was concerned that his family would be ashamed of him if he got kicked out of the military. Nolly strangled Lourdes with the pantyhose.

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Nolly Depadua, U.S. Army

Kenda arrested Nolly and learned from him that they had sex, and she wanted $1000 for an abortion. According to Nolly, Lourdes took his Army dress uniform, used it as ransom, and threatened to burn it if he didn’t give her the money. His career and that uniform meant everything to him. The night of the murder, Nolly asked Lourdes to meet him and give him back his uniform. Lourdes showed up without the uniform. He snapped and strangled her to death in an effort to solve his extortion problems and save his career. Nolly elicits the help of Brian to help him get rid of the body. Unlike in the movies, the car did not explode in a ball of flames like the pair was expecting. The evidence at the scene of the crime was mostly unharmed. According to Kenda, both of the soldiers appeared to show remorse for the crime. Although Lourdes Riddle was a participant in her own death and her behavior caused this reaction, she did not deserve to die. Nolly Depadua made a decision to take a life and you can’t do that. Due to the circumstances surrounding the homicide, he was found guilty of second degree murder and sentenced to fourteen years in prison. He was released after seven. Lt. Kenda ended the show with: “saying she got what she deserved is not fair.”

A couple issues come to mind when it comes to the way the military handles investigations of felony crimes. Why did the Air Force Office of Special Investigations want to take jurisdiction of this case? Why did they do an ‘immediate arrest’ instead of investigating the circumstances and basing their decisions on fact finding? Why don’t they realize that their actions actually hinder the thorough investigations of cases. Research does in fact support that most spouses are murdered by their significant others but we have this thing called due process in the civilian world. The way Kenda felt about OSI interfering and possibly damaging the case was legitimate. And Kenda approached the investigation of the case in the way that detectives should move forward. He simply wanted to talk to the spouse, not accuse of him of the crime. So far there was no evidence to prove that Mark Lourdes had committed the crime. The way the Air Force OSI handled this case is part of the reason that the military justice system is under fire. They have been accused of overreach to include not affording due process rights to both victims of crime and those accused of a crime. They have been accused of railroading military members with an iron fist and as Joe Kenda would say ‘draconian and ruthless’ tactics. They have been accused of making a victim fearful of coming forward if they were involved in a military crime, like adultery or drinking underage. Nolly Depadua is yet another example of a crime involving the motive of fear when someone threatens to go to a military commander.

This is the heart of the military justice system debate. A commander hears each person’s story and determines who is guilty and who is not guilty based on that evidence alone usually. Commanders make the decision whether to prosecute someone in the military. If felony cases were handled by prosecutors who understood the modus operandi of sociopaths, psychopaths, and predators, would our soldiers feel more comfortable reporting a crime without the fear of damaging or losing their own career. It’s a theme that comes up over and over in military cases and needs to be examined. Are soldiers hesitant to report crimes perpetrated against them to their Commander if they have engaged in illegal behavior of any kind to include drinking under age and adultery? If this is the case, we must remove this barrier so that our soldiers feel safe to report felony crimes perpetrated against them without fear of losing their careers because they committed a misdemeanor.

If Nolly had a safe place to report that Lourdes was extorting him despite the adultery issue, could we have prevented this murder? We don’t want our soldiers to feel like they have nowhere to turn if they are targeted by those who know how to manipulate unsuspecting Commanders. It’s important to recognize that both male and female soldiers can be targeted by male or female sociopaths and predators. Reporting crimes to your commander is currently a battle of whose story is more believable and what they feel or don’t feel like dealing with. Commanders hold the key to moving forward with a case or not in our current military justice system. Do they have the skills necessary to investigate and determine who should be prosecuted for crimes? Commanders may not realize that they could tip people off who need to be questioned simply by prematurely inquiring into something which creates an opportunity for collusion.

In the civilian world, you most likely will not lose your career for adultery. Yet in the military, adultery is treated like any other crime in the courts martial process and soldiers can and do lose their careers. It’s not worth a life when people feel that they have to take matters into their own hands to protect what should never been taken from them to begin with. This is why the reporting of felony crimes needs to be moved away from the Commander and to a trained investigator who can help the prosecution determine whether a crime has been committed or not. Prosecutors cannot win cases if the defendants are not afforded due process rights. And this is what gives civilian law enforcement the advantage because they are forced to work within a justice system that protects the constitutional rights of the accused. We want to respect those rights in our pursuit of justice because that is how we will get justice. We should ensure our soldiers that if a felony offense is committed against them that they can safely report the crime without the fear of losing their career.

Source: ‘Secret Life’ Homicide Hunter

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:
Secret Life | Homicide Hunter | Investigation Discovery (S1, E5)
Violent Crime, Suicide & Non Combat Death at Fort Carson, Colorado
Nowhere to Turn: Soldier Extorted by a Military Wife Ends in Murder
Army CID warns Soldiers to beware of ‘sextortion’ scams