48 Hours NCIS Premiered ‘Trail of Fire’ on CBS: Holley Wimunc, Domestic Violence, and the Holley Lynn James Act (June 26, 2018)


Friends searching for a missing Army nurse find her apartment smoldering and no sign of their friend. Can NCIS agents find her? -Trail of Fire, 48 Hours NCIS


The apartment of a missing Army nurse was found smoldering. This was the season finale of “48 Hours: NCIS” and producer Jonathan Leach joined CBS News to discuss the episode. -Trail of Fire, 48 Hours NCIS

Holley Lynn James Wimunc 2

Lt. Holley Lynn James, US Army

Fort Bragg Army nurse, Lt Holley (Lynn James) Wimunc, 24, was murdered by her Marine husband John Wimunc on July 9, 2008 in Fayetteville, North Carolina. After Holley didn’t show up to work, her friends went looking for her. They found her apartment had been set on fire but Holley was nowhere to be found. Three days later authorities discovered Holley’s mutilated remains in a shallow grave outside of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Her body had been chopped up with an axe and burned repeatedly in an effort to try and destroy evidence. John Wimunc also started her apartment on fire in an effort to hide evidence with no regard for any of the nineteen other families in the apartment building. Holley’s father Jesse James shared that she planned on divorcing John Wimunc after putting up with the domestic abuse for over seven months. It would be the day after she told John that she was leaving him that she would go missing. Marine Cpl. John Wimunc, 23, was charged with first-degree murder, second-degree arson and conspiracy to commit arson. An accomplice, Lance Cpl. Kyle Alden, 22, was charged with being an accessory after the fact of a felony, second-degree arson and conspiracy to commit arson. John Wimunc plead guilty to avoid the death penalty and was sentenced to life in prison. Kyle Alden plead guilty and was sentenced to 44 to 62 months in prison. Jesse James worked with Representative Bruce Braley on legislation that would improve conditions for both domestic violence and sexual assault victims in the military. The Holley Lynn James Act (H.R. 1517) was introduced to the 112th Congress in 2011 but did not pass.

“I didn’t know much about domestic violence. But the thought that he would murder Holley is a thought that never occurred to me. I wish it had occurred to me. I wish for one moment I would have thought maybe he’ll kill Holley or murder Holley. My reaction would have been so different. I didn’t know about domestic violence.” -Jesse James (Holley’s father)

MJFA Link:
Army Nurse Lt. Holley Lynn James Murdered by Marine Husband the Day After She Announced Divorce; John Wimunc Plead Guilty, Sentenced to Life in Prison (July 9, 2008)
History: The Military And Domestic Abuse (January 28, 2009)
30 Domestic Abuse Cases in the Military That Ended in the Murder of Female Partners (2017)

Editor’s Note: If you would like to watch the full episode of ‘Trail of Fire,’ please visit the CBS All Access website, visit the 48 Hours website, or download the 48 Hours app for iPad. The most recent episodes are unlocked on the 48 Hours website and app. If you would like to watch past episodes on the 48 Hours app, it cost’s $4.99 a year. There’s programming dating back to 2005 on the 48 Hours app, including some classics, to feed your true crime addiction.  


Authorities in North Carolina have charged the husband of a Fort Bragg Army nurse with murder after the woman’s remains were found in a brush fire three days after she went missing. -AP (July 14, 2008)


The husband of an Army nurse who worked in the maternity ward at Fort Bragg’s hospital was charged Monday with murder in her death, a day after her body was discovered by authorities. -AP (July 14, 2008)


Rep. Bruce Braley introduces the Holley Lynn James Act — a bill to help victims of sexual assault and domestic violence in the military get justice. The bill is named after Holley Lynn James, a constituent of Rep. Braley who was killed by her husband while both were in the service.


Domestic Violence: Holley Wimunc

Related Links:
Obituary: Lt Holley Lynn James
Second Missing Ft. Bragg Soldier Is Divorcing Husband
Evidence to be preserved in case of slain Army nurse
Authorities suspect charred remains could be Fort Bragg nurse
Fort Bragg nurse sought protection from Marine husband after gun incident
Apartment complex denies access to slain soldier’s family
Slain soldier’s brother retrieves belongings from apartment
Autopsy: Army nurse was shot, buried
Funeral set for Army nurse Holley Wimunc
Vigil planned for slain Army nurse
Fort Bragg hosts memorial service for slain nurse
Wimunc’s father: Daughter ‘never met a stranger’
Family, attorney: Marine charged in wife’s death is innocent
Marine’s parents: Claims of violence against wife ‘unfounded’
Husband, 2nd man arrested in slaying of Bragg-based soldier
2 Marines charged in nurse’s death due in NC court
Marine charged in wife’s death
Marine charged in death of Army nurse wife
Husband charged with murdering soldier wife
Missing Nurse’s Marine Husband Charged With Murder
Dead Army nurse’s husband charged with murder
Camp Lejeune husband charged with the murder of his Fort Bragg wife
Soldier’s Husband Charged With Murder
Marines appear in court in Army nurse’s death
Marines charged in slaying appear in court
Marines indicted in Army nurse’s slaying
Death penalty sought in Army nurse’s slaying
NC to seek death penalty in killing of Army wife from Dubuque
Wimunc Faces Death Penalty
Plea deal reached in Marine murder case
Camp Lejeune Marine pleads guilty to killing wife
Second Marine pleads guilty in Army nurse’s death
Marine Pleads Guilty in Army Wife’s Murder
Slain Army nurse’s dad in war against domestic violence
Death on the Home Front
The Fort Bragg Murders
U.S. Military Is Keeping Secrets About Female Soldiers’ ‘Suicides’
When a Military Nurse Fails to Show Up for Work, Worried Friends Rush to Her Apartment Only to Find her Home Burned & Their Friend Missing
Did a Missing Army Nurse Fall Prey to a Serial Killer Targeting Military Women?
Fort Bragg soldier Holley Wimunc’s 2008 murder featured on CBS’ ’48 Hours: NCIS’
Fort Bragg soldier Holley Wimunc’s 2008 murder featured on CBS’ ’48 Hours: NCIS’
History: The Military And Domestic Abuse (January 28, 2009)
30 Domestic Abuse Cases in the Military That Ended in the Murder of Female Partners (2017)

Video Links:
AP Top Stories: Holley Wimunc
Dead Army Nurse’s Husband Charged With Murder
Marine Charged in Army Wife’s Death
Holley James we miss you
Domestic Violence in the Military Part 1 | CBS News
Domestic Violence in the Military Part 2 | CBS News
Rep. Braley introduces Holley Lynn James Act
Domestic Violence: Holley Wimunc
Did a missing Army nurse fall prey to a serial killer targeting military women?
“48 Hours: NCIS” sneak peek: Trail of Fire
“48 Hours: NCIS: Trail of Fire” preview

Army Spouse Katherine Morris Found Dead in Car Near Mall; Cause of Death Initially Ruled Suicide But Further Investigation Suggests Homicide Motivated by Insurance Fraud (2012)

Screen Shot 2017-03-24 at 12.48.18 PM

Katherine Morris

Katherine Morris, 22, was found dead in her car near the Arundel Mills Mall in Maryland on May 6, 2012. Katherine was a University of Maryland student and married to Army spouse, Isaac Goodwin, who was stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. According to a website dedicated to Katherine Morris, she died from carbon monoxide poisoning from charcoal grills lit in her car. Katherine’s family questioned the ruling of suicide by the Army and the Anne Arundel County police department immediately and were eventually successful at getting some retired civilian detectives to look into their suspicions of homicide motivated by life insurance fraud. Interestingly, Anne Arundel County police department also had jurisdiction of the homicide investigation of Army soldier Karlyn Ramirez, who was murdered in 2015. Karlyn’s husband Maliek Kearney and his new girlfriend Doris Delgado face federal murder charges. Karlyn’s homicide is similar in motive to the theories Katherine’s family has about her suspicious death. Karlyn and Katherine both appear to have been targeted and became the victims of domestic violence and/or life insurance fraud. The true motivation behind the Karlyn Ramirez and Katherine Morris deaths is unknown at this time but given how many homicides occur in the military with the common motive of domestic violence and/or life insurance, the Katherine Morris case deserves a second look.

Three families have asked for similar law changes for victims of domestic violence in the military since 2011. Representative Bruce Braley introduced the Holley Lynn James Act on behalf of Fort Bragg Lt. Holley Wimunc who was murdered by her Marine husband John Wimunc in 2008. The bill was advocating for the removal of the Commander and the Chain of Command from the investigation and adjudication of felony crimes like domestic violence because of their inexperience with the modus operandi of offenders. Unfortunately the bill was never even considered and this bill may have had the power to prevent what happened to Katherine Morris, Michelle Miller, and Karlyn Ramirez. Michelle Miller’s family believes she was targeted by an Army recruiter at her Rockville, Maryland high school and became the victim of domestic violence and homicide, despite the Army’s ruling of a double suicide. As a result, Michelle’s family is advocating for Michelle’s Law, which is an effort to encourage Congress to pass a law that would try military abuse and murder cases in civilian court. Katherine’s family is currently advocating for the Katherine Morris Military Spouse Protection Act. All of these law proposals ask that the Chain of Command be removed from the investigation and adjudication of felony crimes because of their inexperience at handling these complex cases. Similar bills have also been introduced to Congress to include the Sexual Assault Training, Oversight, and Prevention Act and the Military Justice Improvement Act. The military needs experienced investigators to get to the bottom of the truth in an effort to prevent crime and save lives.

Related Links:
For Kathy’s Sake, Inc.
Obituary: Katherine Sarah “Kat” Morris
U.Md. student found dead in car near Arundel Mills Mall
Questions abound after student death
Fort Bragg soldier accused of fraud after wife’s suicide
Army investigates allegation soldier drove UMd. student to suicide
Retired officers to give Anne Arundel County cold cases new life
Retired detectives to review 2012 suicide near Arundel Mills
Police reopen probe of Rev. Morris’ daughter’s death
Police Launch Independent Review Into UMD Student’s Suicide Death
Police re-open ‘suicide’ case of wife who was heartbroken after she discovered ‘soldier husband only wed her for Army benefits and was sleeping with other women’
Mother of apparent suicide seeks answers
Marguerite Morris v. Prudential Insurance Company of America (2013)
NAACP seeks federal probe of 2012 death in Hanover
Anne Arundel County mom not convinced her daughter committed suicide, calls for DOJ investigation
Morris v. Goodwin (2014)
Mother’s Search for Answers in Daughter’s Death Leads to Shelter Closure
Anne Arundel Police Response to Freedom of Information Request
Mother seeks emails in daughter’s death investigation
When Katherine Morris, 22, died suddenly, police ruled it suicide, but her mother continues to investigate
Marguerite R. Morris, Personal Representative of the Estate of Katherine Sarah Morris v. Isaac Jerome Goodwin (2016)
Fort Bragg Army Nurse Lt Holley Wimunc Murdered by Marine Husband the Day After She Announced Divorce, John Wimunc Sentenced to Life in Prison (2008)
Evidence Reveals Army Reserve Recruiter Adam Arndt Murdered High School Student Michelle Miller & Then Killed Self, Army Investigators Claim Double Suicide (2013)
Army Pfc Karlyn Ramirez Found Shot to Death in Home, Army Sgt Maliek Kearney & Army Veteran Dolores Delgado Charged with Across State Lines Murder, Feds Prosecuting (2015)
Servicemen’s Group Life Insurance is a Common Motive for Murder
Family of Katherine Morris wants Dept. of Justice to investigate death
Army Specialist Isaac Goodwin allegedly marries for money, and his wife commits suicide

 

Army Nurse Lt. Holley Lynn James Murdered by Marine Husband the Day After She Announced Divorce; John Wimunc Plead Guilty, Sentenced to Life in Prison (July 9, 2008)


Rep. Bruce Braley introduces the Holley Lynn James Act — a bill to help victims of sexual assault and domestic violence in the military get justice. The bill is named after Holley Lynn James, a constituent of Rep. Braley who was killed by her husband while both were in the service.

Holley Lynn James Wimunc 2

Lt. Holley Lynn James, US Army

Fort Bragg Army nurse, Lt Holley (Lynn James) Wimunc, 24, was murdered by her Marine husband John Wimunc on July 9, 2008 in Fayetteville, North Carolina. After Holley didn’t show up to work, her friends went looking for her. They found her apartment had been set on fire but Holley was nowhere to be found. Three days later authorities discovered Holley’s mutilated remains in a shallow grave outside of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Her body had been chopped up with an axe and burned repeatedly in an effort to try and destroy evidence. John Wimunc also started her apartment on fire in an effort to hide evidence with no regard for any of the nineteen other families in the apartment building. Holley’s father Jesse James shared that she planned on divorcing John Wimunc after putting up with the domestic abuse for over seven months. It would be the day after she told John that she was leaving him that she would go missing. Marine Cpl. John Wimunc, 23, was charged with first-degree murder, second-degree arson and conspiracy to commit arson. An accomplice, Lance Cpl. Kyle Alden, 22, was charged with being an accessory after the fact of a felony, second-degree arson and conspiracy to commit arson. John Wimunc plead guilty to avoid the death penalty and was sentenced to life in prison. Kyle Alden plead guilty and was sentenced to 44 to 62 months in prison. Jesse James worked with Representative Bruce Braley on legislation that would improve conditions for both domestic violence and sexual assault victims in the military. The Holley Lynn James Act (H.R. 1517) was introduced to the 112th Congress in 2011 but did not pass.

“I didn’t know much about domestic violence. But the thought that he would murder Holley is a thought that never occurred to me. I wish it had occurred to me. I wish for one moment I would have thought maybe he’ll kill Holley or murder Holley. My reaction would have been so different. I didn’t know about domestic violence.” -Jesse James (Holley’s father)


Friends searching for a missing Army nurse find her apartment smoldering and no sign of their friend. Can NCIS agents find her? -Trail of Fire, 48 Hours NCIS


The apartment of a missing Army nurse was found smoldering. This was the season finale of “48 Hours: NCIS” and producer Jonathan Leach joined CBS News to discuss the episode. -Trail of Fire, 48 Hours NCIS

Editor’s Note: If you would like to watch the full episode of ‘Trail of Fire,’ please visit the CBS All Access website, visit the 48 Hours website, or download the 48 Hours app for iPad. The most recent episodes are unlocked on the 48 Hours website and app. If you would like to watch past episodes on the 48 Hours app, it cost’s $4.99 a year. There’s programming dating back to 2005 on the 48 Hours app, including some classics, to feed your true crime addiction.  

Related Links:
Obituary: Lt Holley Lynn James
Second Missing Ft. Bragg Soldier Is Divorcing Husband
Evidence to be preserved in case of slain Army nurse
Authorities suspect charred remains could be Fort Bragg nurse
Fort Bragg nurse sought protection from Marine husband after gun incident
Apartment complex denies access to slain soldier’s family
Slain soldier’s brother retrieves belongings from apartment
Autopsy: Army nurse was shot, buried
Funeral set for Army nurse Holley Wimunc
Vigil planned for slain Army nurse
Fort Bragg hosts memorial service for slain nurse
Wimunc’s father: Daughter ‘never met a stranger’
Family, attorney: Marine charged in wife’s death is innocent
Marine’s parents: Claims of violence against wife ‘unfounded’
Husband, 2nd man arrested in slaying of Bragg-based soldier
2 Marines charged in nurse’s death due in NC court
Marine charged in wife’s death
Marine charged in death of Army nurse wife
Husband charged with murdering soldier wife
Missing Nurse’s Marine Husband Charged With Murder
Dead Army nurse’s husband charged with murder
Camp Lejeune husband charged with the murder of his Fort Bragg wife
Soldier’s Husband Charged With Murder
Marines appear in court in Army nurse’s death
Marines charged in slaying appear in court
Marines indicted in Army nurse’s slaying
Death penalty sought in Army nurse’s slaying
NC to seek death penalty in killing of Army wife from Dubuque
Wimunc Faces Death Penalty
Plea deal reached in Marine murder case
Camp Lejeune Marine pleads guilty to killing wife
Second Marine pleads guilty in Army nurse’s death
Marine Pleads Guilty in Army Wife’s Murder
Slain Army nurse’s dad in war against domestic violence
Death on the Home Front
The Fort Bragg Murders
U.S. Military Is Keeping Secrets About Female Soldiers’ ‘Suicides’
When a Military Nurse Fails to Show Up for Work, Worried Friends Rush to Her Apartment Only to Find her Home Burned & Their Friend Missing
Did a Missing Army Nurse Fall Prey to a Serial Killer Targeting Military Women?
Fort Bragg soldier Holley Wimunc’s 2008 murder featured on CBS’ ’48 Hours: NCIS’
Fort Bragg soldier Holley Wimunc’s 2008 murder featured on CBS’ ’48 Hours: NCIS’
History: The Military And Domestic Abuse (January 28, 2009)
30 Domestic Abuse Cases in the Military That Ended in the Murder of Female Partners (2017)

Video Links:
AP Top Stories: Holley Wimunc
Dead Army Nurse’s Husband Charged With Murder
Marine Charged in Army Wife’s Death
Holley James we miss you
Domestic Violence in the Military Part 1 | CBS News
Domestic Violence in the Military Part 2 | CBS News
Rep. Braley introduces Holley Lynn James Act
Domestic Violence: Holley Wimunc
Did a missing Army nurse fall prey to a serial killer targeting military women?
“48 Hours: NCIS” sneak peek: Trail of Fire
“48 Hours: NCIS: Trail of Fire” preview

Sgt. Bill Coffin Murdered Ex-Fiancee After Civilian Courts Issued Protective Order, Judge Alleges Army Routinely Ignores Court Orders (1997)

US Army

In 1999, the television program 60 Minutes reported on the hidden War at Home in the U.S. military. They reported that at the time of airing, Pentagon records showed that 58,000 military spouses were victims of domestic violence and that rate was three times higher than the civilian population rate. The overall concerns were that the military justice system was a system that routinely failed to punish even the most violent and abusive servicemen. As a result, it often left an abused spouse alone without protection to fight a secret war. 60 Minutes highlighted the cases of three Fort Campbell soldiers who were charged with killing their wives or girlfriends (Bill Coffin, Dane Zafari, Tracy Leonard) and one Navy spouse who was a victim of domestic violence.

One of the cases singled out was that of Fort Campbell Sergeant Bill Coffin who murdered his ex-fiance Ronnie Spence after a civilian judge granted her an emergency protection order. In December 1997, Sgt. Coffin murdered Ronnie in front of their baby daughter in a shared home near Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Sgt. Coffin shot her twice through the trailer, entered the home and then shot her in the face and through the heart. While Ronnie was lying dead on the floor, Sgt. Coffin emptied the gun into her. Several weeks before the shooting, court records showed that Sgt. Coffin had repeatedly threatened to kill Ronnie and his superior officers at Fort Campbell knew about the threats.

I think they should have confined him to that army base. They should have gotten him some help. They should have stopped him, they should have intervened. They did nothing. -Kathy Spence (mother)

60 Minutes interviewed Kentucky Judge Peter MacDonald who stated that domestic violence cases involving Fort Campbell soldiers routinely showed up in his courtroom. He said that Army commanders regularly ignored court orders issued to protect the abused spouses. Judge MacDonald issued the emergency protective order requiring Sgt. Bill Coffin to stay away from Ronnie Spence. Sgt. Coffin instead shot and killed her. According to 60 Minutes, Sgt. Coffin pleaded guilty to domestic violence and other charges, and was sentenced. Judge MacDonald felt the readiness of the troops was more important than the protection of the battered and abused spouses.

In an in depth investigation, 60 Minutes learned that the Army’s domestic violence guide for commanders listed a number of things that could have been done in Sgt. Bill Coffin’s case but were not. The guide included restricting an abuser to the barracks or assigning them to the quarters of a superior. They also learned that the military spends millions yearly on a Family Advocacy program designed to treat and prevent domestic violence. But Sherry Arnold, a licensed clinical social worker, who helped run the program for the Marines in Camp Pendleton in California, said the Commanders have preconceived notions. She often witnessed victim blaming, minimization, a hands off approach, an ‘it’s a family matter’ attitude, and indifference to the seriousness of the situation and escalating violence.

Robert Clark, the commanding general of Fort Campbell, Ky., where several particularly violent incidents have occurred, said the military does a good job handling domestic violence cases. But Peter MacDonald, chief district court judge in Kentucky with jurisdiction over Fort Campbell, said the Army routinely ignores his court orders designed to protect abused spouses. “They have no conception of what’s going on in domestic violence.” –Deseret News

After the public learned of the scandalous way the U.S. military handles felony crimes like domestic violence, rape, and stalking, the Pentagon was ordered by Congress to investigate domestic violence in the armed forces. Congress recommended stronger protections for battered spouses and stiffer penalties for the servicemen who abuse them. In 2000, Major Joanne P.T. Eldridge suggested a proposal to add anti-stalking provisions to Article 134 in the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Since 1999 and long before this, domestic violence has continued to be an on-going serious invisible issue in the military. Both military spouses and service members are victims of domestic abuse. The year 60 Minutes aired the ‘The War at Home’ programming, Fort Campbell soldier Barry Winchell was murdered because a couple soldiers suspected he might be gay. Barry’s murder prompted the lift of the controversial Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy.

The year after 60 minutes aired, civilian spouse Michelle Theer conspired with her lover, Army Ranger John Diamond, to kill her husband Air Force Captain Frank Theer for the life insurance money. In 2002, four wives were slain in six weeks at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. They were Teresa Nieves, Jennifer Wright, Andrea Floyd, and Marilyn Griffin. In 2008, Army Lt. Holley Wimunc was abused, stalked, and murdered by her Marine husband. In 2011, Holley’s father advocated for H.R. 1517 sponsored by Representative Bruce Braley. This law was aimed at protecting both domestic violence and sexual assault victims. This law would have required the removal of Commanders from the investigation and prosecution of felony crimes. The Holley Lynn James Act and any subsequent legislation, like the Military Justice Improvement Act, suggesting the removal of the Commander from the processing of felony crimes have been unsuccessful.


Rep. Bruce Braley introduces the Holley Lynn James Act — a bill to help victims of sexual assault and domestic violence in the military get justice. The bill is named after Holley Lynn James, a constituent of Rep. Braley who was killed by her husband while both were in the service. 

Related Links:
60 Minutes: “The War at Home” (transcript)
Spouse Abuse A Military Problem
Domestic Abuse Reported Higher in Military
Domestic violence in military higher than U.S. average
Stalking and the Military: A Proposal to Add An Anti-Stalking Provision to Article 134, Uniform Code of Military Justice (2000)