Fort Hood’s Toxic Culture? Red Flags Raised Over Mysterious Disappearances, Sexual Assaults | Fox News (January 6, 2021)

Fort Hood’s toxic culture? Red flags raised over mysterious disappearances, sexual assaults | Hollie McKay, Fox News (January 6, 2020):

The sizable military installation has long come under fire over allegations of coverups and abuse

The report also pointed to a lack of experience and high turnover within the ranks of the Criminal Investigation Department, leading to problems with launching sufficient investigations.

As it stands, there are more than 1,000 deserters wanted by the U.S. Army and it remains unclear explicitly what is being done to determine their fates. Ten months before Guillen disappeared, Pvt. Gregory Morales also vanished from Fort Hood. His body was unintentionally recovered a few miles from the base in June, during the search for Guillen. He had been listed as AWOL in August 2019 and later as a deserter.

However, for his mother, Kim Wedel, her life in Oklahoma halted as she pleaded for assistance and answers from Fort Hood’s Army Criminal Investigation Department (CID).

“If any other business had this many glaring problems, leadership would be gone. Why did it take an investigation to see that the CID was understaffed and overwhelmed? There was a lack of response from CID, and they certainly didn’t know what to do with me as a mom calling all the time,” Wedel told Fox News.

The Killeen Police Department is heading the investigation into Morales’ death, in which foul play is suspected, according to local reports. 

“The Army didn’t care enough to see there was a problem,” Wedel asserted. “I still haven’t really heard from anyone down there. My son will never be at the forefront, and it is shocking how many parents like us are out there. People don’t just disappear because they choose to.”

However, many soldiers and families connected to Fort Hood told Fox News that the personnel changes were merely cosmetic, and they feared “business as usual” when the spotlight faded.

Jennifer Norris, an Air Force veteran and military crime analyst who has focused on Fort Hood issues since 2016, said in order to look forward, one also must look back.

“The deaths ruled a suicide – they need to be investigated. Why did they take their lives? Were those deaths properly investigated? Was it really a suicide, or was it a murder? Everything needs to be questioned,” she added. “We can’t just pretend the last 20 years didn’t happen.” 

Read more from Fox News here.

Related Links:
Report of the Fort Hood Independent Review Committee (November 6, 2020)
15 Things Every American Should Know About the Fort Hood Report
Fort Hood’s toxic culture? Red flags raised over mysterious disappearances, sexual assaults
Tragedies At Fort Hood Have Led The Army To Rethink Its Response When Soldiers Go Missing
Army Soldiers at Fort Hood in Texas Are Dying at Alarming Rates Stateside (January 1, 2016 to Present)
Washington D.C. Veteran’s Presentation on the Current Status of the Armed Forces at Fort Hood in Texas (December 12, 2017)
Speier, Mullin Introduce Bipartisan ‘I Am Vanessa Guillén Act’ to Transform the Military’s Response to Sexual Violence & Missing Servicemembers (September 16, 2020)
Unsolved Homicide: Fort Hood Army Pvt. Gregory Wedel-Morales Reported AWOL; Based on Anonymous Tip, Remains Found in Shallow Grave in Killeen 10 Months Later (August 19, 2019)
Timeline: Army Sgt. Kelton Sphaler and Army Vet Scott Weinhold Reported Missing at Belton Lake on Fort Hood; After Search Launched, Both Recovered in Water (January 21, 2019)
Fort Hood Army Cpl. Christopher Ferguson Died of Undetermined Causes; CID Claimed Death Was Accident; CBS News Reported Suicide (March 25, 2007)
Fort Hood Army Staff Sgt. Paul Norris Fatally Shot Spc. Kamisha Block in Murder-Suicide in Iraq; Family Calls for Congressional Hearings & Independent Investigations (August 16, 2007)
Research Reveals Pattern of Violence, Suspicious Deaths, Problematic Death Investigations, and Cover-up at Fort Hood in Texas (September 11, 2020)
Stars and Stripes: Why is Fort Hood the Army’s Most Crime-Ridden Post? (August 21, 2020)
Austin American-Statesman: Vanessa Guillen’s Death Shines Light on More Tragedies at Fort Hood (July 28, 2020)
Open Letter to House of Representatives in Support of an Independent Investigation of the Murder of Vanessa Guillen at Fort Hood (July 7, 2020)
Unsolved Homicide Cases Affiliated with Fort Hood (January 1, 2016 to Present)
Never Forgotten: The Fort Hood Fallen (2016)

Report of the Fort Hood Independent Review Committee (November 6, 2020)

Fort Hood Independent Review:

“Former Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy and the five civilian members of the Fort Hood Independent Review Committee unveiled the results of a three-month examination of the command climate and culture at Fort Hood and the surrounding military community on Dec. 8, 2020.”

“The independent review, which was directed by former Secretary McCarthy, arose from the questions and concerns voiced by family members, Congress, and various Hispanic advocacy groups during the investigation into the disappearance and murder of Spc. Vanessa Guillén.”

“The committee examined the command climate and culture at Fort Hood and the surrounding military community to determine whether they reflect the Army’s commitment to safety, respect, inclusiveness, diversity, and freedom from sexual harassment.”

“Committee members Chris Swecker, Jonathan Harmon, Carrie Ricci, Queta Rodriguez and Jack White conducted a two-week fact-finding mission to the Texas base, meeting with unit leaders, Soldiers, members of the Guillén family, local officials, law enforcement and community groups.”

“The 136-page Report of the Fort Hood Independent Review Committee offers findings and recommendations intended to benefit Fort Hood and the entire Army. In response, the former Secretary McCarthy has taken significant measures to hold leaders accountable at Fort Hood, instituted a new policy on missing Soldiers and formed the People First Task Force to map out a plan to tackle issues identified in the report.”

Read more here.

Secretary of the Army McCarthy addresses the report of the Fort Hood Independent Review Committee
MLP Hearing: “Military Criminal Investigative Organization Reform Recommendations

Related Links:
Important @Military_Crime Links (Linktree)
Trends in Active-Duty Military Deaths Since 2006
Fort Hood Independent Review (Official Army website)
Research Reveals Pattern of Suspicious Deaths & Cover-up at Fort Hood (Sep. 11, 2020)
Report of the Fort Hood Independent Review Committee (November 6, 2020)
Report of the Fort Hood Independent Review Committee (November 6, 2020)
15 Things Every American Should Know About the Fort Hood Report
MLP Hearing: “Military Criminal Investigative Organization Reform Recommendations
Fort Hood’s toxic culture? Red flags raised over mysterious disappearances, sexual assaults
Army Soldiers at Fort Hood in Texas Are Dying at Alarming Rates Stateside (Jan. 1, 2016 to Present)
Washington D.C. Veteran’s Presentation on the Current Status of the Armed Forces at Fort Hood in Texas (December 12, 2017)
1st AD, Fort Bliss change command: Maj. Gen. Pat White takes ‘Old Ironsides’ helm
Never Forgotten: The Fort Hood Fallen (2016)

Fort Hood Army Sgt. Elder Fernandes Found Deceased in Temple, Texas; Death Ruled Suicide by Dallas Medical Examiner (August 25, 2020)

Sgt. Elder Fernandes, U.S. Army

Death of a Fort Hood Soldier: Sgt Elder Fernandes (August 26, 2020):

Sgt. Elder Fernandes, 23, whose home of record is listed as Brockton, Mass., was found [deceased] near Lake Polk in Temple. He entered the Army in September 2016 as a chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear specialist and has been assigned to the 553rd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion (CSSB), 1st Sustainment Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division since April 2019. Fernandes’ awards and decorations include the Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and Army Service Ribbon.

Fernandes was last seen in Killeen on Aug 17. When he was reported absent on Aug. 18, Soldiers from his unit initiated a thorough search for him, both on and off post while cooperating with the Killeen Police Department and U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID) in an attempt to find him. The unit distributed his photograph, searched motorpools, parking lots, barracks, and headquarters buildings. Members of his unit visited local hotels and hospitals throughout Central Texas trying to find him as they expanded their search efforts.

The unit is cooperating with local authorities from the cities of Killeen and Temple as this incident remains under investigation. The Division will continue to support the Fernandes Family during this difficult time and requests everyone respects their privacy during this time of grief.

Senators Markey and Warren and Rep. Lynch Call for Review of Army Fort Hood to Include Case of Sergeant Elder Fernandes (September 4, 2020):

Massachusetts lawmakers write “evidence suggests that the Army failed to give him the proper support and care that he needed while serving at Fort Hood” Massachusetts (September 4, 2020) – U.S. Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Congressman Stephen F. Lynch (MA-01) today called on the independent review panel investigating the command climate and culture at U.S. Army Base Fort Hood, Texas to include the case of Army Sergeant Elder Fernandes in its review of the base. Sergeant Fernandes, a 23 year-old native of Brockton, Massachusetts who was assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, was found dead on August 25 after having gone missing on August 17. Shortly after he was reported missing, public reports revealed that in May of this year Sergeant Fernandes had reported a sexual assault allegation against a member of his chain of command and also became the target of bullying, hazing, and harassment. The Fort Hood independent review panel was created before Sgt. Fernandes’s disappearance, so the Massachusetts lawmakers are asking the panel to ensure it includes his case in the scope of their review and report. 

In their letter, the lawmakers urged the Fort Hood panel to review the following issues: 

  • The circumstances surrounding Sergeant Fernandes’s treatment by commanding officers and peers while serving at Fort Hood, including allegations of sexual assault, bullying, hazing, or harassment; 
  • The adequacy of the investigation conducted by the Army of his reported sexual assault;
  • The circumstances surrounding his disappearance and death, including the Army’s coordination with local and state law enforcement in the search for him after he was reported missing, and;
  • The adequacy of Army’s coordination with and treatment of Sergeant Fernandes’s family, including but not limited to information-sharing during the search for Sergeant Fernandes and in the period after his body was discovered, and the release of his medical, service, and treatment records thereafter.

“Although an Army-led investigation remains ongoing into the cause and circumstances of Sergeant Fernandes’s death, the evidence suggests that the Army failed to give him the proper support and care that he needed while serving at Fort Hood,” write the lawmakers in the their letter. “As you conduct your independent, comprehensive review of Fort Hood, we urge you to consider the facts of Sergeant Fernandes’s case. We will do everything we can to ensure that Sergeant Fernandes receives the justice he deserves, that Army leaders are held accountable, and to prevent harm to any other soldiers at Fort Hood. We stand by, ready to assist in your review in any way possible, and we look forward to seeing your final report.” 

A copy of the letter can be found HERE

Senators Warren and Markey along with Senator John Cornyn (R-Tex.) today sent a bipartisan request to Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Ok.) and Ranking Member Jack Reed (D-R.I.) asking that the Committee hold a public hearing to probe the findings and recommendations of the independent review panel on the command climate and culture at U.S. Army Base Fort Hood, Texas.

In the News:

YouTube:

Missing Fort Hood soldier part of open ‘abuse sexual contact’ investigation
Mother of missing Fort Hood soldier pleads for the public’s help to find him
Family of Sgt. Elder Fernandes met with Fort Hood officials Sunday
Family, friends of missing Fort Hood soldier Elder Fernandes post flyers and search around Killeen
Family has questions | The search for Fort Hood solder Elder Fernandes continues
Fort Hood Commander Maj. Gen. Scott Efflandt speaks on missing soldier Elder Fernandes
Fort Hood confirms death of Sgt. Elder Fernandes, says sexual assault allegations were ‘unsubstantiated’
Body Believed To Be Missing Fort Hood Soldier Elder Fernandes Found In Texas
Live: Fort Hood holds press conference on late Sgt. Elder Fernandes
Vigil held for Fort Hood soldier Elder Fernandes
Lynch: ‘Cancer or sickness’ at Fort Hood after local soldier’s death
Death of Sgt. Elder Fernandes shines spotlight on military suicide
Fort Hood soldier’s family doesn’t believe what Army told them about death of Sgt. Elder Fernandes (September 1, 2020)
Brockton family of Fort Hood soldier demands answers after he was found dead off base
Family Demands Justice After Fort Hood Soldier Found Dead
Family, Lawmakers Call For Investigation Into Death Of Fort Hood Soldier
Mother Of Soldier Who Died At Fort Hood Speaks Out About Loss

Related Links:
Remembering Sgt. Elder Fernandes | U.S. Army Fort Hood
Another Fort Hood soldier goes missing, this time ‘of his own accord’
Another Fort Hood soldier, Elder Fernandes, is missing. The Army asks for help.
Brockton Soldier Elder Fernandes, Who Reported Sexual Abuse, Is Missing From Fort Hood
Missing Fort Hood soldier was victim in ‘abusive sexual contact’ investigation, Army says
Missing Fort Hood soldier part of open ‘abuse sexual contact’ investigation
Fort Hood Soldier Gone Missing After Reporting Sexual Abuse
Missing Fort Hood soldier reported sexual abuse months before disappearance, Army official says
A 23-year-old Fort Hood soldier who has been missing for a week had reported sexual abuse before his disappearance
Fort Hood Soldier Reported Being Sexually Abused Before Vanishing 1 Week Ago
Army, police searching for missing Fort Hood soldier Elder Fernandes
Army Asks for Help in Search for Another Missing Ft. Hood Soldier
Fort Hood: Foul play not suspected in Fernandes disappearance
No foul play suspected in case of missing Fort Hood soldier
Family of Sgt. Elder Fernandes meets with Fort Hood officials Sunday
Search party combs Killeen neighborhood for missing soldier
Elder Fernandes: Body found in search for missing soldier
Attorney: Missing Fort Hood soldier’s body found in Texas
Army confirms that a missing Fort Hood soldier has been found dead
Missing Brockton soldier who disappeared from Fort Hood found dead
Body Of Missing Fort Hood Soldier Elder Fernandes Found A Week After Disappearance
The Body Of Missing Fort Hood Soldier Elder Fernandes Was Found Hanging From A Tree
Fort Hood soldier, 23, found hanged was ‘humiliated’ after reporting he was sexually assaulted by male superior, which led him to be bullied, harassed, and hazed when news spread around the base, his family’s lawyer says
Fort Hood Sgt. Elder Fernandes ‘humiliated’ after reporting sexual abuse, says family’s lawyer
Family of Fort Hood soldier demands answers after body found in Texas, attorney says
Body of missing Fort Hood soldier Elder Fernandes given plane-side honors in Boston
Body of Brockton native, Fort Hood soldier Sgt. Elder Fernandes returns home
Body of Sgt. Elder Fernandes, 23-year-old Brockton native found near Fort Hood, returns to Massachusetts
Funeral held for Brockton soldier who went missing from Fort Hood
Fort Hood soldier believed dead was happy until recently, family says
Family of Fort Hood Soldier Found Dead Demands Congress Investigate
Fort Hood leaders have ‘blood on their hands’ in death of missing soldier, family attorney says
Missing Fort Hood Soldier Elder Fernandes Reportedly Died by Suicide
Fort Hood soldier Elder Fernandes died by suicide, medical examiner finds
Fort Hood Soldier Elder Fernandes Died From Suicide, Autopsy Reportedly Says
Marchers Demand Answers in Death of Brockton Soldier Who Reported Sexual Assault
‘This is a very bad situation’: Mass. lawmakers paint grim picture of Fort Hood, after death of Sgt. Elder Fernandes
Fort Hood soldier’s family claims Army never investigated his computers; mystery now left behind in devices
Soldier’s family doubts what Army says about his death; Fort Hood’s commander removed from position
Fort Hood soldier was still alive days after he disappeared, raising possibility that suicide could have been prevented, reports show
Family of Fort Hood sergeant questions Army’s effort to find him before he died
Fort Hood: What we know about 12 soldiers missing, slain or killed in accidents since January
Senators Markey and Warren and Rep. Lynch Call for Review of Army Fort Hood to Include Case of Sergeant Elder Fernandes

Six Unsolved Homicide Cases Affiliated with Fort Hood (January 1, 2016 to Present)

While investigators searched for Spc. Vanessa Guillen, the skeletal remains of Pvt. Gregory Wedel-Morales were found near Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas. His mother, Kim Wedel, wishes investigators looked for her son like they did Guillen. He had been missing for ten months. Once former Fort Hood soldier Jorgina Butler read about the disappearance and death of Guillen, she said it returned her to the night she was sexually by a staff sergeant in 2009. On July 29, 2020, lawmakers plan to hold a congressional hearing in Washington D.C. focused on the review of Fort Hood’s handling of sexual misconduct in the wake of a national outcry for justice for Guillen and her family. –Austin American-Statesman (July 28, 2020)

Unsolved Homicides (2016 to Present):

Solved: Fort Hood Army Pfc. Brandon Rosecrans Found Fatally Shot Four Miles From Burning Jeep in Harker Heights, Texas; Two Arrested & Charged (May 18, 2020)

Related Links:
What Is Happening At Fort Hood? | Missing People in America
Army Soldiers at Fort Hood in Texas Are Dying at Alarming Rates Stateside (January 1, 2016 to Present)
Washington D.C. Veteran’s Presentation on the Current Status of Forces at Fort Hood in Texas (December 12, 2017)
Unsolved Homicide: Fort Hood Army Pvt. Justin Lewis Shot & Killed Near Vacant Lot in Killeen, Texas Neighborhood (April 17, 2017)
Unsolved Homicide: Army Veteran Cleveland Jermaine “CJ” Lewis Fatally Shot & Killed in Front of Home in Killeen, Texas Neighborhood (August 4, 2018)
Unsolved Homicide: Fort Hood Army Pvt. Gregory Wedel-Morales Reported AWOL; Based on Anonymous Tip, Remains Found in Shallow Grave in Killeen 10 Months Later (August 19, 2019)
Unsolved Homicide: Fort Hood Army Spc. Shelby Jones Died of Gunshot Wound at Mickey’s Convenience Store in Killeen, Texas; Shot at Nearby Night Club (March 1, 2020)
Unsolved Homicide: Asia Cline, Army Veteran Shaquan Allred, & Fort Hood Spc. Freddy Delacruz, Jr. Found Shot Dead at Killeen, Texas Apartment (March 14, 2020)
Unsolved Homicide: Fort Hood Army Pfc. Brandon Rosecrans Found Fatally Shot Four Miles From Burning Jeep in Harker Heights, Texas; Local PD Takes Lead (May 18, 2020)
The Murder of Vanessa Guillen and the Unsolved Homicides of Fort Hood | Jensen and Holes | The Murder Squad Podcast (July 6, 2020)
7 soldiers have died in the Fort Hood area this year  | Task and Purpose
Here’s what we know about eight of the soldiers who have died this year at Fort Hood
The Murder of Vanessa Guillen and the Unsolved Homicides of Fort Hood

Other Suspicious Deaths (deaths ruled suicide, accident, etc.; doesn’t add up):
Fort Hood Army Cpl. Christopher Ferguson Died of Undetermined Causes; CID Claimed Death Was Accident; CBS News Reported Suicide (March 25, 2007)
Army SSG Devin Schuette Found Dead in Vehicle at Recreation Area Near Fort Hood; CID Ruled Suicide, Spouse Requests Independent Investigation (January 3, 2016)
Army Sgt. Marcus Nelson Sr. Died While in Custody at Bell County Jail in Belton, Texas; Nelson Held on Charges Stemming from 1st Cavalry Division (May 23, 2016)
On This Day, Eight Army Soldiers & One West Point Cadet Died in a Flash Flood Training Accident at Fort Hood in Texas (June 2, 2016)
Fort Hood Army Pvt. Dakota Stump Found Dead on Post Three Weeks After Vehicle Accident; Family Wants Missing ‘Warrior Alert’ Law (November 3, 2016)
Army Pvt. Paige Fontenot Briles Found Unresponsive in Vehicle at Ft Hood Housing in Texas; Despite Suicide Ruling, Family Requests Homicide Investigation (Dec. 24, 2016)
Fort Hood Army CID Special Agent Steven Hines Found Dead Behind Office Building of Apparent Self-Inflicted Gunshot Wound, Death Ruled Suicide (February 5, 2017)
Fort Hood Army Spc. Justen Ogden Found Unresponsive at On-Post Home; Family Questions Cause of Death Ruling Claiming “None of It Ever Added Up” (July 11, 2017)
Fort Hood Army MSG Alva ‘Joe’ Gwinn Led Police on High Speed Car Chase After Welfare Check Initiated; Died by Suicide During the Incident (October 12, 2017)
Timeline: Army Sgt. Kelton Sphaler & Army Vet Scott Weinhold Reported Missing at Belton Lake on Ft Hood; After Search Launched, Recovered in Water (January 21, 2019)
Fort Hood Army Spc. Mason Webber Died of Injuries Sustained Conducting Maintenance on a Bradley Fighting Vehicle at Texas Base (September 5, 2019)

*this list is not complete

Austin American-Statesman: Vanessa Guillen’s Death Shines Light on More Tragedies at Fort Hood (July 28, 2020)

“While investigators searched for Spc. Vanessa Guillen, the skeletal remains of Pvt. Gregory Wedel-Morales were found near Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas. His mother, Kim Wedel, wishes investigators looked for her son like they did Guillen. He had been missing for ten months. Once former Fort Hood soldier Jorgina Butler read about the disappearance and death of Guillen, she said it returned her to the night she was sexually by a staff sergeant in 2009. On July 29, 2020, lawmakers plan to hold a congressional hearing in Washington D.C. focused on the review of Fort Hood’s handling of sexual misconduct in the wake of a national outcry for justice for Guillen and her family.” –Austin American-Statesman (July 28, 2020)

Statesman Tweet Fort Hood

Retweet the Austin-American Statesman here.

Fort Hood soldiers say ‘Great Place’ also known for violence, mistreatment (Austin American-Statesman, July 30, 2020)

However, the lack of historical violent crime data from the post has not stopped one military veteran from tracking it on her own.

Jennifer Norris, who served in the U.S. Air Force, researches and writes about Fort Hood crime on her blog, “Military Justice for All.”

Norris, who said she was sexually assaulted by one of her supervisors in the military, switched from only researching sexual assaults to also delving into non-combat deaths of service members in recent years.

Norris set up Google alerts for new stories about deaths in and around military installations, thinking that one day she could prove to Congress that some deaths were related to sexual assault or harassment.

Norris said her data for Fort Hood shows that 138 of its soldiers have died stateside since 2016. Not counting Guillen, three of the deaths this year were determined to be homicides.

Haug said he could not confirm the number Norris provided, adding that the size of Fort Hood, spread across 218,000 acres in southwestern Bell and southeastern Coryell counties in Central Texas, should be taken into account when looking at violent crime.

He said it’s about the size of New York City, with 36,500 soldiers assigned to it with more than 100,000 family members. By comparison, the average Air Force base only has 5,000 personnel assigned to it, he said.

Norris took particular interest in Fort Hood after a pattern emerged while interviewing families of slain soldiers there. Many of those families felt the Army had not properly investigated or searched for their loved ones after their disappearance, she said.

“And the stories are still coming in.”

Read more from the Austin American-Statesman here. (MJFA added links)

Fort Hood Stats

In the last 4 years from January 2016 to present, Fort Hood on average lost 36 soldiers a year. If you divide 36 by 12 months, that’s an average of 3 soldiers a month. We must find out WHY so we can prevent these untimely deaths and save the precious lives and futures of these mostly young soldiers. The average age at time of death is 28 years old and each death has a ripple effect on the families, friends, and communities left behind.  

Army Soldiers at Fort Hood in Texas Are Dying at Alarming Rates Stateside (January 1, 2016 to Present) | Military Justice for All

Unsolved Cases Fort Hood

Unsolved Homicides: Justin Lewis, Cleveland Lewis, Gregory Wedel-Morales, Shelby Jones, Shaquan Allred, Freddy Delacruz Jr., and Brandon Rosecrans

Seven Unsolved Homicide Cases Affiliated with Fort Hood (January 1, 2016 to Present) | Military Justice for All

Jensen and Holes

Billy Jensen & Paul Holes of The Murder Squad released a must listen to podcast about the issues at Fort Hood. They made a great case for the improvement of sexual harassment, sexual assault, missing persons cases, and murder investigations. They also asked us to sign the petitions for Vanessa Guillen and LaVena Johnson. (Source: Jensen & Holes)

The Murder Squad Podcast: The Murder of Vanessa Guillen and the Unsolved Homicides of Fort Hood (July 6, 2020) | Military Justice for All

Brian Lewis MJIA

“The Military Justice Improvement Act would take the prosecution of sexual assault and other serious crimes, such as murder, out of the chain of command. It would keep those crimes in the military justice system, but put the decision to prosecute them into the hands of actual military prosecutors who are trained to deal with complex legal issues.” –Senator Kirsten Gillbrand (Military Times, July 1, 2019)

Gillibrand: The Military Justice Improvement Act Would Give Service Members a Justice System That Works (July 1, 2019) | Military Justice for All

Related Links:
Vanessa Guillen’s death shines light on more tragedies at Fort Hood (Source)
Fort Hood soldiers say ‘Great Place’ also known for violence, mistreatment (Austin American-Statesman, July 30, 2020)
7 soldiers have died in the Fort Hood area this year  | Task and Purpose
Here’s what we know about eight of the soldiers who have died this year at Fort Hood
Air Force TSgt. Jennifer Norris Testified Before the House Armed Services Committee in Washington DC (January 23, 2013)
Army Soldiers at Fort Hood in Texas Are Dying at Alarming Rates Stateside (January 1, 2016 to Present) | Military Justice for All
Washington D.C. Veteran’s Presentation on the Current Status of Forces at Fort Hood in Texas (December 12, 2017) | Military Justice for All
Unsolved Homicide: Fort Hood Army Pvt. Gregory Wedel-Morales Reported AWOL; Based on Anonymous Tip, Remains Found in Shallow Grave in Killeen 10 Months Later (August 19, 2019)
Seven Unsolved Homicide Cases Affiliated with Fort Hood (January 1, 2016 to Present)
The Murder Squad Podcast: The Murder of Vanessa Guillen and the Unsolved Homicides of Fort Hood (July 6, 2020)
Gillibrand: The Military Justice Improvement Act Would Give Service Members a Justice System That Works (July 1, 2019)
Rep Speier to Chair Hearing on the Military’s #MeToo Moment, Sparked by SPC Vanessa Guillén (July 29, 2020)
LIVE: Hearing on Military Sexual Harassment (Washington D.C.)

MJFA on Social:
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/militaryjusticeforall
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/military_crime
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/@military_crime
Email: militaryjusticeforall@gmail.com

Unsolved Homicide: Fort Hood Army Pvt. Gregory Wedel-Morales Reported AWOL; Based on Anonymous Tip, Remains Found in Shallow Grave in Killeen 10 Months Later (August 19, 2019)

Gregory Wedel-Morales

Pvt. Gregory Wedel-Morales, U.S. Army

Army Soldiers at Fort Hood in Texas Are Dying
at Alarming Rates Stateside (January 1, 2016 to Present)

The skeletal remains of missing Fort Hood Army Pvt. Gregory Scott Morales (Gregory Wedel-Morales) were discovered June 19, 2020 in a shallow grave in a field near the 3200 block of Florence Road in Killeen, Texas. Pvt. Wedel-Morales was last seen in Killeen on August 19, 2019 in his private vehicle (the vehicle was later recovered by authorities). Gregory was out-processing and due to be out of the Army within a couple days before he disappeared. The Army labeled him AWOL (Absent Without Leave), then deserter, and went about their business. Gregory’s family called attention to his disappearance and it wasn’t until Fort Hood Pfc. Vanessa Guillen disappeared that the Army started referring to Gregory as missing and offered a reward. After the Army CID offered a reward of up to $25,000 to anyone with credible information, they received an anonymous tip that led to the discovery of his body. Both Gregory and Vanessa were considered AWOL and it wasn’t until Vanessa’s family was able to garner nationwide support that the Army took either of the missing cases seriously. In the last year, Gregory and Vanessa were both labeled AWOL yet murdered and buried in shallow graves outside the base. Obviously, foul play is suspected and now the Army CID is offering a reward of up to $25,000 for information concerning the circumstances surrounding the death of Gregory Wedel-Morales. Both the Army CID and the Killeen Police Department have jurisdiction as Gregory was found in Killeen.

“Foul play is suspected at this point in the investigation. Army special agents are working closely with the Killeen Police Department and are offering a reward of up to $25,000 to anyone with credible information concerning the circumstances surrounding the death of Morales.”

“Persons with information can contact Army CID Special Agents at 254-287-2722 or the Military Police Desk at 254-288-1170.  They can also anonymously submit information at https://www.cid.army.mil/report-a-crime.html. They can also contact their local police departments. People wishing to remain anonymous will be honored to the degree allowable under the law and the information will be held in the strictest confidence allowable.”

Read more here.

Pvt Gregory Wedel-Morales

Click here for the remainder of the Fort Hood Press Center Press Release (be forewarned they will delete this history eventually)

In the case of Wedel-Morales, his unit called his mother, Kim Wedel, on Aug. 21 and asked her when was the last time she had talked to him because he didn’t show up for formation, she said. “Next thing they tell me, he’s AWOL,” Wedel said. “I filed a missing person report with the Killeen Police Department, but they said that since he was an adult, the best thing you can do is use social media to find him.” “My perception is nothing was going on until they (Fort Hood) were forced into it. I reached out (to CID) and said, ‘hey, this young lady deserves a reward, but what about my son?’ We had nothing until this reward came out and got a tip,” she said. “If we had done this to begin with, we may not have had to wait 10 months.” Because of his status as a deserter, Wedel said the family cannot even give him a proper military burial until an autopsy confirms he has been dead since he disappeared. Read more from Killeen Daily Herald here.

In the News:

Morales was last seen driving his car outside of Fort Hood in Killeen in the night of August 19, 2019. -KCEN News (June 15, 2020)

“He just ended up in a shallow grave in a field without anyone knowing where he was. They didn’t go out to look for him and that really stings,” Nick Wedel says. -KCEN News (June 21, 2020)

The family of Gregory Morales is petitioning for a change in Army policy after Morales was listed AWOL and then deserter before the remains of his body were found. -KCEN News (June 21, 2020)

Each time the family of former Fort Hood soldier, Pvt. Gregory Morales, gets news about his status with the military, it brings them more pain. -ABC13 Houston (July 2, 2020)

Related Links:
Reward Increased: Missing Fort Hood Soldier Pvt. Gregory Morales
Reward increased | Up to $25,000 to locate missing Fort Hood soldier Gregory Morales
Army offers $25K for info leading to soldier who vanished days before discharge
Anonymous Tip Leads To Missing Fort Hood Soldier Gregory Morales’ Skeletal Remains
Remains identified as soldier stationed at Fort Hood, Texas
Confirmed | Skeletal remains found in Killeen identified as missing Fort Hood Soldier Gregory Morales, Army CID confirms
Army confirms body found near Fort Hood is missing soldier Gregory Morales
Army CID confirms skeletal remains discovered are those of Gregory Wedel-Morales
Missing Fort Hood Soldier’s Remains Are Found in Field, and Foul Play Is Suspected
Foul play suspected in death of Ft. Hood soldier Gregory Wedel Morales, Army says
Unidentified Remains Found in Same Area as Body of Fort Hood Soldier
Family of Fort Hood soldier whose remains found in Killeen wants military funeral
Mother of Gregory Morales pushing for change in deserter status of her son
Sapulpa family searching for answers after missing soldier’s remains found in Texas
Family of soldier found dead speaks out
Two soldiers missing for months from the same post
Friends describe Pvt. Gregory Morales as a ‘sweetheart,’ and ‘happy soul’
Remains found at 2nd location amid search for missing Fort Hood soldier
Soldier identified, reward offered for info
Family of deceased Fort Hood soldier hoping to have ‘deserter’ status changed
Family of fallen Fort Hood soldier Gregory Morales wants him buried with military honors
Gregory Morales’ brother speaks about missing soldier case, body discovery
Gregory Morales’ brother speaks about missing soldier case, body discovery
Wedel family fights to clear Gregory Morales’ name in order to have military burial
Mothers of Fort Hood soldiers found dead want Army to change search protocols
Here is how a soldier becomes listed as ‘deserter’
Family of fallen Fort Hood soldier wants him buried with military honors
Two Fort Hood soldiers found dead – are their cases related?
Ep31: Missing From Fort Hood | Military Murder Podcast
Episode 37: UPDATE to Episode 31 – Vanessa Guillen & Gregory Morales | Military Murder Podcast

Grave Mysteries Premiered ‘Murder Behind Closed Doors’ on ID: Ashley Melnyczok Found Murdered in Colorado Springs Home (February 25, 2019)

27 year-old Ashley Melnyczok is a single mother. Her daughter is her life’s joy. In June 2015, Ashley is murdered in her Colorado Springs home. While hunting for clues, police hunt down a cast of dangerous characters and uncover a heinous plot. -Murder Behind Closed Doors, Grave Mysteries (S2,E3)

Editor’s note: With a cable subscription, you can download the free ID Go app and watch Investigation Discovery programming at your convenience. And for those who do not have cable, you can watch “unlocked” episodes on the ID Go app including the latest premieres. For those who prefer commercial free programming during your binge session, Prime Video has an ID channel: ‘True Crime Files by Investigation Discovery” available for $3.99 a month. It’s a compilation of older seasons but totally worth the cost if you are a true crime addict. Download the ID Go app or purchase ID True Crime Files & binge away.

Related Links:
Murder of Ashley Melnyczok by Joseph Kimsey and Jonathon Nelson — Grave Mysteries spotlights the case
Murder Behind Closed Doors | Grave Mysteries | Investigation Discovery (S2,E3)
Murder Behind Closed Doors | Grave Mysteries | Investigation Discovery (website)
Murder Behind Closed Doors | Grave Mysteries | Investigation Discovery (Prime Video)
Ashley Melnyczok Found Murdered in Colorado Home; Army Soldier Joseph Kimsey & Jonathon Nelson Sentenced to Life in Prison (June 3, 2015)
What the DoD Doesn’t Want You to Know: 50 Shocking Military Homicides in the Last 30 Years (March 23, 2018)
Violent Crime, Suicide, and Non Combat Death at Fort Carson, Colorado (US Army)
A Month in Review: In the News on Military Justice for All (June 2018)

A Month in Review: In the News on Military Justice for All (April 2018)

April 2018

Missing:
Patrick F. Carnes, Nevada (2011) | Missing Veterans
Mother Joins Search for Navy Officer Son Who Vanished on Way to Submarine Based in Connecticut
Federal agencies get involved with search for missing Martinsville man

Cold Cases:
Air Force Col. Philip Shue Died in an Apparent Car Accident, But Autopsy Revealed Much More; Texas Judge Ruled Cause of Death as Homicide (April 16, 2003)
Unsolved Homicide: Fort Hood Army Pvt. Justin Lewis Shot & Killed Near Vacant Lot in Neighborhood in Killeen, Texas (April 17, 2017)

Reward Offered:
$11K offered in hunt for Marine accused of killing detective’s daughter
Former Marine wanted for murder believed to be in Mexico, manhunt underway
Authorities ask for public’s help in locating ex-Marine fugitive

Petitions:
Advocate for review and reform of injustice in the Military

Announcements:
Veterans legal clinic scheduled in Killeen
Save Our Heroes Sends Letter of Concern to Joint Regional Correctional Facility Leavenworth, Re Violation of the United Nations Human Rights Commission

Legislation:
This Gunnery Sergeant’s job destroyed his body to the point of retirement
Diagnosed With Leukemia, This Officer Was One Year From Retirement

Continue reading

Military Judge Sentenced Air Force A1C Timothy Wilsey to Life in Prison, Possibility of Parole for the Strangulation Death of Colleague A1C Rhianda Dillard (April 11, 2018)

Air Force A1C Rhianda Dillard, 20, was found dead in her dorm room at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska on August 1, 2016. A1C Timothy Wilsey, 21, disappeared after the murder and was arrested eleven days later in Emporia, Virginia on desertion and murder charges. Timothy Wilsey was charged with pre-meditated murder under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). A1C Dillard was from Biloxi, Mississippi and had only been in the Air Force for five months before she was murdered. She was a cyber systems operation specialist assigned to the 55th Strategic Communications Squadron. On August 4, 2018, AP reported that Wilsey’s court martial was scheduled for trial at Omaha’s federal courthouse. If found guilty of the federal charges, Wilsey risked a life sentence without parole. “Court-martial proceedings were moved off the base to a federal courthouse to make room for the public.” Wilsey pleaded guilty to a single count of premeditated murder and one count of deserting his unit. On April 11, 2018, a military judge sentenced Timothy Wilsey to life in prison with no possibility of parole but because of a pretrial agreement with his command (26th Air Force) Wilsey will be eligible for parole in the future. “Wilsey also received a reprimand and reduction to the lowest enlisted rank, forfeits all future pay and allowances, and is to be dishonorably discharged.”

“I killed Airman Dillard by putting my arm around her neck. Then I switched arms,” he said as he entered his guilty plea. “I sat on top of her and strangled her with both my hands.” -Timothy Wilsey (Clarion Ledger, April 6, 2018)

Airman 1st Class Timothy M. Wilsey of the 55th Intelligence Support Squadron has been charged with premeditated murder and desertion in connection with the death of Airman 1st Class Rhianda N. Dillard at Offutt Air Force Base, a news release from the 55th Wing said. -KETV (December 13, 2016)

Related Links:
Offutt airman charged with murder in connection with fellow airman’s death
Offutt airman charged in murder case
Air Force airman charged in death of fellow airman
Air Force airman charged in August death of fellow airman
She died, he disappeared. Now he’s charged with murder.
Airman faces premeditated murder, desertion charges in death at Offutt Air Force Base
Offutt airman charged with murder, desertion in death of fellow airman
Airman accused of murdering fellow airman at Offutt AFB officially charged
Airman from Valdosta charged with murder
‘He’s not talking’: Offutt airman charged with murder in connection with fellow airman’s death
Airman at Offutt Charged With Murder Appears in Court
Journal details Offutt airman’s slaying
Prosecutors: Journal details Offutt airman’s slaying
Airman at Offutt detailed killing of fellow service member in journal, agent testifies at hearing
‘My bad’: Chilling diary entries and texts of ‘murder-obsessed’ soldier ‘who strangled female classmate for fun and to steal a pack of Oreos’
Court martial for airman charged with murder moved downtown
Court martial for airman charged with murder moved downtown
Court martial for airman charged with murder moved downtown
Airman pleads guilty to murder
Airman pleads guilty to murder at Air Force base near Omaha
Mississippi airman’s killer pleads guilty to her Nebraska murder
While on the run, Offutt airman wrote that he had thoughts of killing again
‘I just enjoy killing. Simple as that.’ Quotes from airman’s journal shared at sentencing in Offutt slaying
‘I just enjoy killing’: Nebraska airman’s journal reveals ‘a thirst’ for murder
‘What went wrong?’ Friends, family are baffled as to how Offutt airman became killer
Airman from Valdosta gets life in prison
Former airman sentenced to life in prison
Airman who described himself as ‘homicidal’ is sentenced to life with possibility of parole for Offutt slaying
Airman who killed colleague at Offutt gets life with chance at parole
Airman Who Killed Colleague Gets Life with Chance at Parole
‘I Just Enjoy Killing’: Airman Gets Life in Prison for Strangling Another Air Force Member
Airman Gets Life In Prison For Murdering Colleague, Wrote In Journal ‘I Just Like Killing’
Air Force A1C Rhianda Dillard Found Murdered in Offutt AFB Dorm Room; Military Judge Sentenced A1C Timothy Wilsey to Life in Prison, Possibility of Parole (August 1, 2016)