Army Pvt. John Martinez Found Dead in Barracks at Fort Riley, Kansas (August 19, 2017)

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Pvt. John Martinez, US Army

Army Pvt. John Martinez, 19, was found unconscious in his barracks room and later pronounced dead at the Fort Riley hospital on August 19, 2017. Pvt. Martinez was a cavalry scout with A Troop, 5th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team at Fort Riley, Kansas. Pvt. Martinez was the fourth stateside soldier death at Fort Riley in less then a month. Staff Sgt. Alejandro Franquiz, 30, was found dead in his parked vehicle off I-70 on July 31; Spc. Peter Robbins, 23, was killed by police officers in a confrontation in Junction City, Kansas on August 8; and Spc. Richard Cox, 22, died of a gunshot wound on post on August 16. Pvt. Martinez joined the Army in July 2016 and arrived at Fort Riley in November 2016.

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Army Paratrooper Pfc. Andrew Young Found Dead in Barracks at Caserma Ederle in Vicenza, Italy (August 19, 2017)

US Army

Army paratrooper Pfc. Andrew Young, 21, was found dead in his barracks at Caserma Ederle in Vicenza, Italy on August 19, 2017. Pfc. Young joined the Army in 2015 and was assigned to the A Company, 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment (Airborne), 173rd Airborne Brigade in Vicenza, Italy since January 2016. The incident is under investigation.

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Fort Hood Army Spc. Zachary Moore Found Unresponsive in Barracks on Deployment to Camp Hovey, South Korea; CID Ruled Suicide (August 2, 2017)

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Spc. Zachary Moore, US Army

Spc. Zachary Moore, 23, of Virginia Beach, Virginia, was found unresponsive August 1, 2017 in his barracks room at Camp Hovey in South Korea. Spc. Moore was transported to St. Mary’s Hospital and pronounced deceased on August 2, 2017. Spc. Moore entered active-duty military service in March 2014 as a signal support systems specialist. He was assigned to the 9th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood in Texas since July 2016. The circumstances surrounding the incident were investigated by the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID) and the cause of death was ruled a suicide.

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Was Zachary Moore’s Death Preventable?

In May 2017, Fort Hood announced they were deploying 3,500 troops to South Korea over the summer. Twenty-three (23) year old Zachary Moore was one of the soldiers deployed to South Korea. With full knowledge of Zachary’s recent mental health issues, the Chain of Command gave him a mental health waiver against his will, and most likely against medical advice, so they could deploy him to South Korea.

In October 2016, Zachary had a mental health breakdown and went Absent without Leave (AWOL). After a successful intervention, Zachary was found and returned to the custody of his Chain of Command at Fort Hood. Zachary’s command then sent him to an emergency room where he was hospitalized and prescribed medication. After Zachary was discharged from the hospital, he continued to seek treatment for mental health issues. Six months later, Zachary was given a mental health waiver by his command to deploy to South Korea.

About a month after Zachary arrived at Camp Hovey in South Korea, his depression medication was changed. As a matter of fact, his depression medication was changed the day before he was found unresponsive in his barracks room. Zachary attempted to kill himself on August 1st, less than 24 hours after the medication change. It was Zachary who called his Command for help as there is no 911 on the base in South Korea. He was found unresponsive and finally transported to the hospital about 1 ½ to 2 hours later. He was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit, listed as critical then stable, yet passed away on August 2, 2017.

Why did Zachary Moore go AWOL?

The Chain of Command contacted Jeanette to report Zachary hadn’t been seen since October 18, 2016. They also informed her they were not actively looking for him but would file AWOL status on October 20th. When asked if they filed a missing persons report, Jeanette claims they told her they did but she says she was lead to believe Zachary trashed his room, took his things, and left willingly. She immediately flew to Texas from Florida to find him.

Jeanette contacted the Killeen Police Department as soon as she got to Fort Hood and the local law enforcement found Zachary the same day she arrived. Over the phone, the Command told Jeanette they filed a missing persons report but she learned from the Killeen Police Department that they never did. The Killeen PD noticed recent activity on Facebook so they pinged Zach’s cell phone & found that he was in a remote area of a local state park.

Zachary attempted to flee initially but after negotiations, he surrendered and was returned to the police station where his mom was waiting. Jeanette could tell Zachary was mentally broken and he admitted to her that he wanted to hurt himself.  The Killeen PD found Zachary and he had a knife in his possession. Zachary was returned to the custody of his Chain of Command at Fort Hood. Shortly after Zachary informed his mom that his superiors told him to tell her to leave town and stop interfering.

Jeanette reports that Zachary never had any mental health issues prior to this and suspected that Zachary was “singled out by his command and harassed.”

Areas of Concern in Zachary Moore’s Case:

  • Zachary revealed he was harassed by his Chain of Command. For example, his leave papers to visit family before deploying were denied; he was denied permission to see the Fort Hood Inspector General officer; he was harassed during training exercises; he was given exhausting extra duties; and was accused of taking a radio which was later found on a military officer’s desk. Why was he denied the opportunity to speak to the IG officer?
  • Zachary was accused of trashing his room and taking his belongings when he went AWOL. Jeanette believes the circumstances surrounding the vandalism of his room and the theft of his property could be evidence of harassment.
  • During mental health treatment, Zachary was facing the consequences of going AWOL; Zachary was accused of trashing his own room; and Zachary was accused of stealing a secure radio? What are the additional mental health impacts of the way the Chain of Command uses the military justice system?
  • The circumstances of the mental health waiver and the justifications for sending Zachary to South Korea while he was undergoing treatment for mental health issues and medication management should be investigated.
  • The effects of the medication change in South Korea should be investigated. Is Command aware that some medications can cause serious negative reactions? (Some depression medication causes suicidal ideation.) Who monitors serious medication changes in deployed locations? Is it safe to deploy soldiers in the early phases of medication management for mental health issues?
  • Finally, the delay in the Command’s response to Zachary’s call for help in South Korea should be investigated. Why did it take so long to respond to Zachary and why did it take so long to get Zachary to the hospital? Did anyone attempt to administer help while waiting for the ambulance?
  • If the Command was the cause of the mental health break, where was Zachary supposed to turn? How do we hold the Chain of Command accountable? How do we prevent the Chain of Command from retaliating and using the military justice system or non judicial punishment as a weapon? What was the role of the Commander? What was the role of the Fort Hood Inspector General? How can we prevent a young soldier from feeling like the only way out of their situation is AWOL or suicide? How could we have prevented Zachary’s death?
  • Soldiers have come forward, given their stories to the family and have offered to testify about what Zachary was put through which may explain why he died. Were these soldiers questioned?

Source: Jeanette Nazario (Zachary Moore’s mom)

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Fort Bragg Army Pfc. David Winchester Found Dead in Barracks in North Carolina; Official Cause of Death Unknown (November 16, 2016)

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Pfc. David Winchester, U.S. Army

Army Pfc. David Winchester, 21, was found dead in his Fort Bragg barracks in North Carolina on November 16, 2016. Pfc. Winchester of Adamsville, Alabama was a biomedical equipment specialist; he joined the Army in April 2015. Pfc. Winchester was assigned to the 601st Area Support Medical Company, 261st Multi-functional Medical Battalion, 44th Medical Brigade at Fort Bragg. The Army sent out a media advisory to Associated Press announcing that agents with the Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID) were investigating the incident. The official cause of death is unknown.

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Osama El-Atari, One-Time Informant Who Got Marine Jorge Torrez to Confess to 3 Murders Including Amanda Snell, Found Dead in Vehicle; Three Suspects Arrested for Murder (February 16, 2016)

“A Virginia man found murdered in Maryland over the weekend was an informant who successfully got a Marine to confess to three murders in prison. Osama El-Atari had been reported missing by his family…Two days later, El Atari was found dead inside his truck…In August of 2010, the feds wanted to see if El-Atari could get Jorge Torrez, a Marine, to confess on tape to the murder of Amanda Jean Snell, a sailor who was found murdered in Fort Myer. El-Atari and Torrez were in the same cellblock in Arlington County Jail. The two talked for hours with El-Atari getting Torrez to admit to the vicious crime…El-Atari was also able to get Torrez to admit to the 2005 killing of two little girls in his hometown of Zion, Illinois. It is a crime in which a suspect had already confessed. Also, DNA evidence pointed to Torrez.” Read more from Fox 5 DC here.

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Army Sgt Vincinte Jackson Convicted of Murder of Co-Worker Sgt. Brandy Fonteneaux at Fort Carson; Sentenced to Life in Prison, No Parole (2012)

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Sgt. Vincinte Jackson, US Army

Sgt. Vincinte Jackson, US Army, was convicted of the brutal murder of co-worker and fellow Army soldier Brandy Fonteneaux. Both Sgt. Vincinte and Brandy were assigned to the 4th Engineer Battalion at Fort Carson, Colorado. Brandy was found stabbed to death in her barracks room at Fort Carson on January 9, 2012. After an investigation, Sgt. Jackson was accused of finding the first unlocked door he could in the barracks, entering, and then stabbing and slashing Brandy Fonteneaux 74 times. Jackson was courts martialed by the Army and found guilty of murder by a jury of eight of his peers but they acquitted him on the charge of premeditated murder. Jackson’s defense lawyers blamed heavy drinking with the combination of anti-depressants leaving him unable to control his own actions. The prosecution scoffed at the defense and accused Jackson of trying doors in the Fort Carson Army barracks corridor until he found one that was unlocked. They deduced that Jackson made the conscience decision to leave his room and walk to Brandy’s room where he stabbed and slashed her to near death. An autopsy revealed Jackson choked her to death to take her out of the misery he put her in. Sgt. Vincinte Jackson was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

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