Ark-La-Tex: Barksdale Air Force Base Commander Addresses Homicides of Five Airmen or Spouses in Less Than a Year (July 17, 2019)

USAF Seal

“The commander of the 2nd Bomb Wing at Barksdale Air Force Base issued a statement Wednesday afternoon expressing deep concern for the safety of the military members and their families assigned to BAFB in light of the recent murders of five Barksdale Airmen and/or their spouses. ‘I’ve been stationed at eight installations in my 25-year Air Force career and I have never experienced as many murders involving Airmen and their families,’ said Air Force Col. Michael A. Miller.” Read more from Ark-La-Tex here.

  • TSgt Joshua Kidd, U.S. Air Force: died September 25, 2018, murdered outside home, DNA links two teens to murder, Jareona Crosby and Alonzo Wilson charged with second degree murder, awaiting trial
  • TSgt Kelly Jose, U.S. Air Force Reserve and spouse Heather Jose: died November 8, 2018, murdered after giving a guy they met at the shopping mall a ride, found slain in a burned out car, Dewayne Willie Watkins, 34, was indicted in connection with the robbery, kidnapping, and murder, charged with two counts of second degree murder, state seeking the death penalty
  • Antonio Williams (spouse of civil servant Airman Ivy Shelby-Williams): died June 22, 2019, gunned down while delivering mail to Michael Gentry at his home in Shreveport’s South Highlands neighborhood, Michael Gentry, 32, arrested after the shooting & charged with second-degree murder
  • TSgt Perry Bailey, U.S. Air Force: died June 30, 2019, murdered in Shreveport residence, the female homeowner said her former boyfriend, Brandan Brown, broke into the residence through the master bedroom window and shot her current boyfriend Perry Bailey, Brown died by suicide

Related Links:
Barksdale Commander Expresses Concern About Recent Airmen Deaths
BAFB commander addresses homicides of five airmen or spouses in less than a year

Homicide Hunter Premiered ‘Blood Innocence’ on ID: Korean War Hero Carl Taylor Murdered During Robbery in Colorado (September 23, 2014)

A war hero is beaten to death for no apparent reason. The crime scene offers few clues, but Lt Joe Kenda notices an unusual pattern in the victim’s head wounds and enlists a team of engineers to help him identify the murder weapon and crack the case. -Blood Innocence, Homicide Hunter (S4,E6)

,Korean War hero and Air Force veteran Carl Vincent Taylor, 47, of Oklahoma, died of blunt force trauma injuries in Colorado Springs, Colorado on August 14, 1977. In the course of an investigation, Lt. Joe Kenda learned an individual named Eric Kendall was involved in the crime. But after the crime Kendall fled to Pennsylvania where police found him and had him extradited back to Colorado. Eric confessed to the crime and implicated three other individuals. Eric said he and Phil Brown met up with Sonny Evans and Ricky Dillon to plot the robbery. Eric Kendall, Phil Brown and Sonny Evans pleaded guilty to first degree burglary in exchange for their testimony in Ricky Dillon’s trial. The three individuals testified Ricky was the one who attacked and killed Carl Taylor. Kendall, Brown, and Evans were sentenced to 5-7 years in prison. Ricky Dillon was found guilty of first degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.

“The jury found defendant Ricky Dillon guilty of first degree murder and the trial court sentenced him to death…The death sentence was subsequently reduced to life imprisonment when the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty statute was unconstitutional.” -People v. Dillon (July 13, 1987)

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:
State of Colorado v. Ricky Dillon (1987)
Blood Innocence | Homicide Hunter | Investigation Discovery (S4,E6)
Blood Innocence | Homicide Hunter | Investigation Discovery (website)
Blood Innocence | Homicide Hunter | Investigation Discovery (Amazon)
Blood Innocence | Homicide Hunter | Investigation Discovery (Hulu)
Homicide Hunter: 10 Active Duty Military and Veteran Murder Cases Featured on Investigation Discovery

Marilyn Griffin Found Stabbed to Death in House Fire; Fort Bragg Army Sgt. Cedric Griffin Pleaded Guilty to Murder of Estranged Wife, Sentenced to Life in Prison (July 9, 2002)

Prevent Domestic Violence

In March 2005, Fort Bragg Army Sergeant Cedric Ramon Griffin, 28, pleaded guilty to murdering his wife Marilyn Griffin and setting her home on fire on July 9, 2002 in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Sgt. Griffin was charged by the Cumberland County Superior Court with the first-degree murder of his estranged wife Marilyn Griffin, first-degree arson, and the attempted murder of Marilyn’s two daughters. Marilyn died as a result of approximately 50 stab wounds to the chest, neck, back and abdomen; the preliminary autopsy results indicated Marilyn died prior to the fire. Marilyn’s daughters, ages 6 and 2, woke up during the fire, escaped, and went to a neighbor’s house for help. According to law enforcement officials, the motive appeared to be “domestic related” and Sgt. Griffin turned violent after Marilyn threatened to reveal his infidelity to his commander. The couple were married for eight years and Marilyn was murdered two months after she left Sgt. Griffin. She moved into her new home only a week before she died. Sgt. Cedric Griffin faced the death sentence in North Carolina if he was convicted of stabbing his wife to death but according to the Army Wives book, former Army Sgt. Cedric Griffin pleaded guilty to murdering Marilyn Griffin and is serving a life sentence in the Central Prison in Raleigh, North Carolina.

This domestic violence related homicide was one of five murders that occurred in a six week period at Fort Bragg in 2002. Rigoberto Nieves fatally shot his wife Teresa after an argument on June 11, 2002; William Wright admitted to strangling his wife Jennifer on June 29, 2002; Brandon Floyd fatally shot his wife Andrea on July 19, 2002; and military spouse Joan Shannon manipulated her daughter Elizabeth to shoot her step-father Major David Shannon on July 23, 2002 while he slept.

Related Links:
Preliminary Autopsy: Woman In Trailer Fire Died Of Multiple Stab Wounds
Army sergeant may face death penalty
Wives’ slayings shock Army at Fort Bragg
Series of Slayings Shakes Fort Bragg
Murders shake US military
A Base Rocked by Violence
A War at Home | People
Blood on the Home Front | Time
Death in the Ranks at Fort Bragg
4 Wives Slain in 6 Weeks at Ft. Bragg
Fort Bragg’s Deadly Summer | Vanity Fair (December 2002)
Spate of domestic killings hits U.S. military base
US army stunned by spate of murders at special forces’ base
Rash of Wife Killings at Ft. Bragg Leaves the Base Wondering Why
How GI Heroes Turned Homes into Killing Fields
After Combat Overseas, Many War Veterans Killing Others At Home, Then Themselves
Spouse slayings, suicides raise alarm at Fort Bragg
4 slain wives had tried to leave
4 Army wives who were slain sought divorce
Soldiers kill wives after serving in Afghanistan
Army fights domestic violence in soldiers’ homes at Fort Bragg
Army Wifes’ Slayings Spurs Review
Army re-evaluating counseling program after four wives killed
Army Behavior Experts to Probe Fort Bragg Killings
Army base to take a look at its counseling program
Third Bragg soldier took malaria drug
Deaths highlight military problem
Army: Drug Not Tied to Base Slayings
Army – No link between killings, anti-malaria drug
War Torn | Part 1 | The New York Times (January 12, 2008)
Death on the Home Front (2009)
A Decade after Murder-Suicides, D-Day for “the Agent Orange of our Generation”
Army Wives: The Unwritten Code of Military Marriage (Book)
30 Domestic Abuse Cases in the Military That Ended in the Murder of Female Partners (2017)
Violent Crime, Non Combat Death and Suicide at Fort Bragg, North Carolina (US Army)

LA Times Published ‘Pvt. John Bennett is the Only U.S. Soldier Executed for Rape in Peacetime’ by Richard A. Serrano (September 10, 2000)

Photo by Umberto Shaw on Pexels.com

Pvt. John Bennett is the Only U.S. Soldier Executed for Rape in Peacetime. He Was Mentally Troubled and Black. Six White Murderers Were Also on Military Death Row. They Were Spared.

Richard A. Serrano is a Staff Writer in The Times’ Washington, bureau. He last wrote for the magazine about the bombing of the Oklahoma, City federal building, which was also the subject of his book, “One of, Ours,” published in 1998 by W.W. Norton

“Rain always frightened him, and on the night he was hanged in a military prison in Kansas, a rolling prairie thunderstorm was kicking up outside. That was four decades ago. Pvt. John Bennett had just turned 26. He went to his death perhaps more terrified of the thunder and lightning than of the gaunt hangman waiting upon the gallows.

News of the hanging scarcely made the papers. Executions then, like today, were commonplace, so much so that his story has never been told. But he is the last member of the U.S. Armed Forces to be executed. And he is the only serviceman hanged for rape during peacetime.

America is once again examining the death penalty, spurred by the most damning evidence in history that innocents have been sentenced to die. Advances in DNA testing and other revelations have overturned scores of death sentences in recent years, raising fresh doubts about American criminal justice, especially for minorities, who make up the majority of death row prisoners.

As a result, the death penalty issue looms larger in presidential politics than it has for a generation. Both major party candidates favor death sentencing, and Republican nominee George W. Bush has given it special emphasis. He expresses confidence in his state’s handling of capital cases and says that not one innocent man has been executed on his watch as governor of Texas.

The issue also has landed in the Oval Office, where President Clinton delayed by four months the federal government’s first scheduled execution since 1963. Juan Raul Garza will now have until Dec. 12–a date notably after the presidential election–to seek clemency. Garza’s attorneys say they will argue that the criminal justice system discriminates against minorities.

Amid the chatter, national opinion polls have found that while most Americans still favor death sentencing, the support is diminishing. Even its proponents question the role that race, mental illness, poverty, politics and the quality of legal representation play in death penalty cases. All those factors were present on that stormy night in April 1961 inside the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Ft. Leavenworth. Was the system broken back then? Has it been fixed since?

Read more from Richard A. Serrano (LA Times) here or here and check out Serrano’s book ‘Summoned at Midnight: A Story of Race and the Last Military Executions at Fort Leavenworth’ here.

Related Links:
Pvt John Arthur Bennett (April 13, 1961)
Pvt. John Bennett is the Only U.S. Soldier Executed for Rape in Peacetime
Pvt. John Bennett Is the Only U.S. Soldier Executed for Rape in Peacetime
Bush OKs Execution for Army Private on Death Row
1961: John A. Bennett, the last American military execution (so far)
The Rare Case Of The Military Execution
A look at the last U.S. soldier executed by the military
Soldiers Sentenced to Die, but No Executions on Military Death Row Since 1961
A look at the 6 inmates on US military death row
Servicemen on Death Row; 6 killers await as mil­i­tary jus­tice crawls
Judge lifts execution stay for ex-soldier in military prison
U.S. Military Could Execute Ex-Soldier for First Time Since 1961
Army moves closer to first execution in 50 years; Ronald Gray on death row since 1988
These are the 4 inmates on the military’s death row
Haunted by the Story of John Bennett and Other Black Soldiers’ Lives on Death Row
Resuming federal executions unlikely to affect military death row
Summoned at Midnight: A Story of Race and the Last Military Executions at Fort Leavenworth 
Crimelines True Crime Podcast w/ Death’s Door Podcast Featured the Last Military Execution of Army Private John Bennett in 1961 (April 22, 2018)
Four U.S. Service Members on Military Death Row at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; Army Private John Bennett was Last Military Execution by Hanging in 1961
Seven Intriguing True Crime Podcasts Spotlighting Active Duty Military Suicide, Missing, and Murder Cases

Innocent Victims: The True Story of the Eastburn Family Murders by Scott Whisnant Published | Book Review (March 1, 1993)

Description:

Fort Bragg, North Carolina, had seen it all before – when Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald was convicted of savagely slaying his wife and children. Now another officer’s wife had been raped and murdered, another pari of children viciously butchered. And another member of the military was brought to trial. This time the state had no trouble winning a conviction. Tim Hennis was found guilty and sentenced to death. Only Hennis’ parents, wife, and dedicated defense team refused to give up. Piece by piece they ripped the state’s case to shreds, revealing a stunning story of perversion of justice, false witnesses, hidden evidence, and, incredibly, a baby-sitter who had a fascination with Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald. With the brutal truth and chilling suspense of Fatal Vision, this riveting account recreates a vicious crime, the behind-the-scenes story of its investigation, the compelling drama of one of the very few men ever released from Death Row, and an unsolved mystery that still casts a spell of terror. (Innocent Victims by Scott Whisnant)

Book Review:

I read the Innocent Victims book while I was camping and honestly I could not put it down. I was reminded of it while listening to the Military Murder Podcast and inspired to read it because of the level of detail available in the book. It was a great read because there were so many twists and turns in the case. If I didn’t know about the fact that a DNA match to Timothy Hennis helped prove his guilt in a 2010 military trial, I would have been convinced Timothy Hennis was wrongfully convicted. Timothy Hennis was luckier than most because he had the staunch support of his adopted family and wife Angela, who all believed wholeheartedly in his innocence. This case is one for the history books because it’s not every day someone is found guilty in a civilian trial, then found not guilty in a civilian trial on appeal, and then tried again by the military in a third trial and found guilty. Timothy Hennis was sentenced to death and is one of four service members languishing on military death row. The military hasn’t executed anyone since they hanged Army Pvt. John Bennett on April 13, 1961.

Journalists and scholars have questioned the military’s ability to try someone found not guilty in a civilian court because of the double jeopardy concerns. Due to the fact that Timothy Hennis was found not guilty in a second civilian trial, he was allowed to resume his career in the U.S. Army and retired as a MSG in 2004. As far as we know, Timothy Hennis committed no other crimes and was well respected by those he served with. It would be because of his retirement from the military, the Army was able to bring him back on active duty status and try him in a third trial for the murders of the Eastburn family. This practice is also controversial. On appeal Timothy Hennis challenged the military’s jurisdiction to recall him to active duty status to prosecute him and questioned the double jeopardy concerns. In January 2020, an Appeals Court decided military retirees can be recalled to active duty status and court-martialed. In February 2020, the U.S. Court of Military Appeals rejected Hennis’ constitutional rights challenges to the military court’s jurisdiction to try him.

Is it constitutional for retirees to be court martialed? Highest military court to decide soon. (Connecting Vets, July 8, 2020)

Do you love podcasts? Check out the Military Murder Podcast and get up to speed with the Timothy Hennis murder case here.

Kathryn, Cara, and Erin Eastburn of Fayetteville, North Carolina

Related Links:
Air Force Spouse Kathryn Eastburn & Daughters Cara & Erin Found Murdered in Fayetteville, NC Home; Youngest Toddler Jana Discovered Unharmed (May 9, 1985)
A Military Jury Delivered a Guilty Verdict in a Death Penalty Trial to Retired Army MSG Timothy Hennis for the Triple Murders of Kathryn, Cara & Erin Eastburn (April 8, 2010)
In 3rd Trial, Retired Army MSG Timothy Hennis Sentenced to Death by Military Court Martial for the Murders of Kathryn, Cara & Erin Eastburn in Fayetteville, NC (April 15, 2010)
Unusual Suspects Premiered ‘Mother’s Day Murders’ on ID: Timothy Hennis on Military Death Row for Murders of Kathryn, Cara & Erin Eastburn (October 8, 2012)
Death’s Door Podcast Featured the Case of Military Death Row Inmate Army MSG Timothy Hennis (September 14, 2017)
Crime Junkie Podcast Featured ‘Murdered: The Eastburn Family’; Army MSG Timothy Hennis on Military Death Row for Rape & Three Murders (May 13, 2019)
Military Murder Podcast Premiered First Three Episodes on Veteran’s Day: Stephen Schap, Russell Williams, and Timothy Hennis (November 11, 2019)
Seven Intriguing True Crime Podcasts Spotlighting Active Duty Military Suicide, Missing, and Murder Cases
Four Service Members on Military Death Row at Fort Leavenworth, Army Private John Bennett was Last Military Execution by Hanging in 1961
Violent Crime, Non Combat Death and Suicide at Fort Bragg, North Carolina (US Army)