HASC Congressional Investigation of Fort Hood: Research Reveals Pattern of Suspicious Deaths and Cover-up (September 11, 2020)

(photo: Hedge Hedge Baker)

Dear House Armed Services Committee:

I accidentally stumbled upon Fort Hood while conducting research on the non combat deaths of female service members overseas. Fort Hood, along with a few other big Army bases in the U.S., was the common denominator in non combat death overseas. I also learned there are countless numbers of non combat deaths of male service members as well. They shouldn’t have to face death as a way to escape their situation (whether they are a victim of crime and/or it’s a mental health emergency). This issue in and of itself is its own animal and the reason we need policy enacted immediately to create a “bug out” plan for those in danger (or mental health emergencies) in overseas locations, especially if the chain of command fails them. There is no 911 overseas. Why is it the military is not accountable to the American public with the outcome of the investigations of a U.S. service member’s death? They conveniently get to hide behind the non combat death label and because they don’t disclose why or how the service member died in most cases, we are not able to make informed consent as to whether we want to join an organization that appears to hide their misdeeds in an effort to protect the reputation of the institution. I was inspired to look into the other non combat deaths of women overseas after learning the military labeled the obvious rape and murder of LaVena Johnson as a suicide. My research found this isn’t an anomaly, this is a pattern.

Non Combat Deaths of Female Soldiers in the US Military (Iraq)
Non Combat Deaths of Female Service Members in the U.S. Military (Afghanistan)
Non Combat Deaths of Female Service Members in the U.S. Military (Other Areas)
Department of Defense Press Releases (2001 to present)
Military Policy and Legislation Considerations for the Investigations of Non Combat Death, Homicide, and Suicide of U.S. Service Members
Fort Campbell Army Pfc. LaVena Johnson Died of Non Combat Related Injuries in Iraq; Death Ruled Suicide But Independent Investigation Revealed Rape & Murder (July 19, 2005)

After noticing the pattern of the same bases tied to the non combat deaths overseas, I decided to start researching crime in and around the bases in question. Crime knows no boundaries. I took a look at JBLM, Fort Bragg, Fort Hood, Fort Carson, Fort Campbell, JBER, Fort Wainwright, Camp Pendleton, etc. I not only discovered violent crime in and around the bases but I discovered suicide and homicide in garrison were significant issues as well. In late 2016, I noticed a large cluster of deaths at Fort Hood on the heels of learning about all the other violent crime, non combat death and suicide at Fort Hood since 9/11/2001. I was especially upset with the way Fort Hood handled the missing person case of Dakota Stump and how they treated his family. As a result of me taking an interest in the issues at Fort Hood, families of the fallen started contacting me. What I learned collectively was startling. Please keep in mind, each family didn’t know about my conversations with the other families as all this information is considered confidential unless they want to tell their loved ones story on my website: www.militaryjusticeforall.com

Violent Crime, Non Combat Death & Suicide at U.S. Military Bases
Fort Hood Army Pvt. Dakota Stump Found Dead on Post Three Weeks After Vehicle Accident; Family Wants Missing ‘Warrior Alert Law’ (November 3, 2016)
Violent Crime, Suicide, and Non Combat Death at Fort Hood, Texas

As a result of the intel I was getting from families of the fallen at Fort Hood, I decided I was going to start paying closer attention to what was going on at this base. It was by far the most problematic compared to any other base. But please understand Fort Hood is symbolic of the other bases; they all have these same problems. The Army is by far the worst offender concerning death and violent crime in the military. The patterns that emerged from the Fort Hood families included lack of interest in missing persons cases, mislabeling deaths, shoddy death investigations, reports and information from Army leadership that didn’t add up or make sense, evidence goes missing, computer devices and phones are erased, secretiveness, dismissiveness, misleading, and cover-up. When it comes to an untimely or dubious death, it’s hard to find a family who won’t stop fighting for their loved one until justice is served. No justice, no peace. We currently have a group of families at Fort Hood and elsewhere who want to file a class action lawsuit to get the suspicious deaths of their loved ones reopened so they can be investigated properly by independent investigators. The Army did not investigate each death as a homicide until ruled out, therefore the scene was not preserved for evidence collection; they quickly ruled the death a suicide and moved on. According to Stars and Stripes, in the last five years, we’ve lost 165 soldiers at Fort Hood and 70 of those deaths were deaths ruled suicide. I have not included all cases because a lot of families have not come forward to share their story publicly because they are heartbroken, traumatized, confused, and overwhelmed. This experience leaves the families feeling helpless. Even if the death was in fact a suicide, these families want answers, they want the truth, and they want an avenue to find the truth. I was so concerned with the number of deaths stateside at Fort Hood, I went to Washington D.C. in December 2017 to ask for help and it fell on deaf ears including the office of the chair of the House Armed Services Committee, Mac Thornberry.

Fort Hood Research for Last 5 Years:
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)
Austin American-Statesman: Vanessa Guillen’s Death Shines Light on More Tragedies at Fort Hood (July 28, 2020)
Stars and Stripes: Why Is Fort Hood the Army’s Most Crime-Ridden Post? (August 21, 2020)

Homicide Cases in Last 5 Years:
Unsolved Homicide: Fort Hood Army Pvt. Justin Lewis Shot & Killed Near Vacant Lot in Killeen, Texas Neighborhood (April 17, 2017)
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)
Asia Cline, Army Veteran Shaquan Allred, & Fort Hood Spc. Freddy Delacruz, Jr. Found Shot Dead at Killeen, Texas Apartment; Suspect Arrested (March 14, 2020)
Fort Hood Army Pfc. Brandon Rosecrans Found Fatally Shot Four Miles From Burning Jeep in Harker Heights, Texas; Two Arrested & Charged (May 18, 2020)
An Open Letter to the House of Representatives in Support of an Independent Investigation of the Murder of Vanessa Guillen at Fort Hood (July 7, 2020)

Cases of Significance (homicide has no statute of limitations):
Fort Hood Army Pfc. Melissa Hobart Collapsed and Died From Undetermined Cause While on Guard Duty in Baghdad, Iraq (June 6, 2004)
Fort Hood Army Sgt. William Edwards Killed Estranged Wife Erin Edwards at Killeen, Texas Home; Killed Self in Parking Lot Across Street (July 22, 2004)
Fort Hood Army Pfc. Tina Priest Died From a Non-Combat Related Incident in Iraq; Death Ruled Suicide But Family Suspects Rape and Murder (March 1, 2006)
Fort Hood Army SSG Jeannette Dunn Died of a Non Combat Related Injury in Taji, Iraq (November 26, 2006)
Fort Hood Army Cpl. Christopher Ferguson Died of Undetermined Causes; CID Claimed Death Was Accident; CBS News Reported Suicide (March 25, 2007)
Army Staff Sgt. Paul Norris Fatally Shot Spc. Kamisha Block in Murder-Suicide in Iraq; Family Requests Congressional Hearings & Investigation of Military Leadership (August 16, 2007)
Fort Hood Army Spc. Christine Ndururi Died of Non Combat Illness at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait; Family Claims She Has Not Been Sick (November 6, 2007)
Fort Hood Army Spc. Keisha Morgan Died of Non Combat Related Cause in Baghdad, Iraq; CID Ruled Suicide But Family Suspects Rape and Murder (February 22, 2008)
Fort Hood Army Spc. Seteria Brown Died of a Non-Combat Related Incident in Afghanistan; Army Said Found in Barracks With Gunshot Wound From M-16 (July 25, 2008)
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)
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 Spc. Zachary Moore Died by Suicide While on Deployment to Camp Hovey, South Korea; Delay in Medical Care Contributed to Death (August 2, 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)

Active Duty Military Legislation Recommendations:
Rep. Seth Moulton Introduces The Brandon Act to Change DoD Mental Health Policy, Pay Tribute to Fallen Navy Sailor Brandon Caserta (June 25, 2020)
Senators Cruz, Gillibrand, Grassley Offer Bipartisan Military Justice Improvement Act as Amendment to Defense Bill (July 2, 2020)
Chair Jackie Speier NDAA Provisions Address Military Sexual Assault, Intimate Partner Violence, Racial Justice, Ethics, Military Families, and DoD Oversight and Modernization (July 2, 2020)
Speier, Mullin Introduce Bipartisan ‘I Am Vanessa Guillén Act’ to Transform the Military’s Response to Sexual Violence and Missing Servicemembers (September 16, 2020)
Military Policy and Legislation Considerations for the Investigations of Non Combat Death, Homicide, and Suicide of US Service Members

Stars and Stripes: Why is Fort Hood the Army’s Most Crime-Ridden Post? (August 21, 2020)

#IAmVanessaGuillen

by Rose Thayer

Keeping Track

“In the last five years, 165 soldiers assigned to Fort Hood have died, according to the Fort Hood Public Affairs Office, which regularly released information on soldiers’ death until a 2018 decision to stop the practice. The post was an outlier in this level of transparency.

In those years, seven soldiers died by homicide, while six died in a combat zone. The deaths of 70 soldiers were ruled suicides, and on- and off-base accidents resulted in the deaths of 60 soldiers.”

(Army Soldiers at Fort Hood in Texas Are Dying at Alarming Rates Stateside (January 1, 2016 to Present) *we missed close to 25 deaths because Fort Hood stopped issuing press releases for the death of soldiers in early 2018)

Asking for a Solution

Air Force veteran Jennifer Norris believes Fort Hood’s current situation has been years in the making.

For the past decade, Norris, a trained social worker with a master’s degree in public policy, has been tracking crimes committed by and against service members and advocating for reform. She posts her research on her website, Military Justice for All.

She first focused her research on several large military bases, but after noticing a trend of Fort Hood deaths, Norris narrowed her efforts to the Texas post.

‘I didn’t set up to go after Fort Hood at all. It’s a compilation of systematic issues,’ she said.

At the end of 2017, Norris used her own money to travel from her home in Maine to Washington to meet with lawmakers. By the time she got home, Norris said she thought everyone had moved on without intending to address the problems.

‘The other bases are nothing like Fort Hood is right now,’ she said. ‘I think the anomaly with Fort Hood is that its isolated and that it’s such an economic powerhouse in the community that it’s in everybody’s best interest to protect it so they can protect themselves.’”

(Washington D.C. Veteran’s Presentation on the Current Status of the Armed Forces at Fort Hood in Texas (December 12, 2017))

Read more here: Why is Fort Hood the Army’s most crime-ridden post?

Related Links:
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)
Air Force TSgt. Jennifer Norris Testified Before the House Armed Services Committee in Washington DC (January 23, 2013)
Gillibrand: The Military Justice Improvement Act Would Give Service Members a Justice System That Works (July 1, 2019)
Rep. Seth Moulton Introduces The Brandon Act to Change DoD Mental Health Policy, Pay Tribute to Fallen Navy Sailor Brandon Caserta (June 25, 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)
Austin American-Statesman: Vanessa Guillen’s Death Shines Light on More Tragedies at Fort Hood (July 28, 2020)

Report: VA Doctor Fired 9 Months After Taunting Suicidal Veteran Who Died by Suicide 6 Days Later (July 29, 2020)

Veterans Affairs

It took nine months for the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) to dismiss a doctor who shouted “[the patient] can go shoot [themself], I do not care” at a suicidal veteran who shot himself dead six days later, according to a new report from the VA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG). In 2019, a veteran in their 60s, accompanied with a family member, visited the emergency room at the Washington DC VA Medical Center to complain of withdrawals from alprazolam (Xanax) and oxycodone as well as insomnia. The patient was hoping to be admitted to safely detoxify and get help, according to the report.”

Read more from KUTV here.

Related Links:
Report: VA doc fired 9 mos. after taunting suicidal vet who died by suicide 6 days later
Inadequate Emergency Department Care and Physician Misconduct at the Washington DC VA Medical Center

Military Murder Podcast Featured the Suspicious Death of Fort Campbell Army Pfc. Lavena Johnson in Balad, Iraq (July 27, 2020)

“Lavena Johnson was a smart, witty woman, born and raised in Missouri.  Her senior year of high school she decided she would join the Army in an effort to not burden her parents with out of state tuition for college.  Although Dr. Johnson (Lavena’s dad), begged her not to join the Army – she did so anyway.  She thought the Army was a good deal – you serve your country a few years and then you get 4 years of college paid! Recruiters promised her she would likely not deploy, even though in 2004 there was an uptick in deployed troops.”

Listen to Ep 40:  Did Lavena Johnson commit suicide? on the Military Murder Podcast here.

Related Links:
Ep40: Did Lavena Johnson commit suicide? | Military Murder Podcast
Non Combat Deaths of Female Service Members in the U.S. Military (Iraq)
Army Pfc. LaVena Johnson Died of Non Combat Related Injuries in Iraq; Death Ruled Suicide But Independent Investigation Revealed Rape & Murder (July 19, 2005)
‘The Silent Truth’ Documentary: The Rape, Murder & Military Cover-Up of Army Pfc. LaVena Johnson in Iraq (July 1, 2014)
The Generation Why Podcast Featured the Suspicious Death of Army Pfc. LaVena Johnson in Balad, Iraq: Was It Suicide or Murder? (November 19, 2017)
The Strange & Unexplained: ‘The Biggest Suspicious Unsolved Military Mysteries’ (August 15, 2018)
Crime Junkie Podcast Featured the Suspicious Deaths of LaVena Johnson & Tina Priest in ‘Conspiracy: Women in the US Military’ (October 22, 2018)
Seven Intriguing True Crime Podcasts Spotlighting Active Duty Military Suicide, Missing, and Murder Cases
15 Active Duty Cases That Beg for Prevention Efforts, Military Justice Reform, and the End of the Feres Doctrine
15 Movies & Documentaries That Expose the Broken Military Justice System

Senators Cruz, Gillibrand, Grassley Offer Bipartisan Military Justice Improvement Act as Amendment to Defense Bill (July 2, 2020)

Pass MJIA 2.png

Find contact information and how your Senators voted here.

Contact the SASC & HASC Members here.

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

“U.S. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and I recently announced that we will offer the bipartisan Military Justice Improvement Act as an amendment to this year’s National Defense Authorization Act. The Military Justice Improvement Act would professionalize how the military prosecutes serious crimes by moving the decision over whether to prosecute them to independent, trained, professional military prosecutors.

Despite years of Congressional reforms, thousands of service members are raped and sexually assaulted every year. In many of those cases, the assailant is someone in the survivor’s own chain of command. Only a small fraction of the perpetrators are ever held accountable for their violent crimes. Last year, the Department of Defense announced a record number of sexual assaults reported by or against service members, and yet, less than 10 percent of cases considered for command action ever proceeded to trial. Worse yet, despite repeated efforts to stamp out the scourge of retaliation against military sexual assault survivors, the most recent Pentagon survey found that 64 percent of survivors say they have experienced some form of retaliation for reporting the crime. That figure is statistically unchanged from 2016.”

Read more here.

SASC: Senate Armed Services Committee
HASC: House Armed Services Committee

Related Links:
Chair Jackie Speier NDAA Provisions Address Military Sexual Assault, Intimate Partner Violence, Racial Justice, Ethics, Military Families, and DoD Oversight and Modernization (July 2, 2020)
Sens. Cruz, Gillibrand, Grassley Offer Bipartisan Military Justice Improvement Act as Amendment to Defense Bill (July 2, 2020)
S. 1789: Military Justice Improvement Act of 2019 Reintroduced by Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York (June 13, 2019)
Senate Armed Services Committee Members & House Armed Services Committee Members (June 21, 2019)
Military Policy and Legislation Considerations for the Investigations of Non Combat Death, Homicide, and Suicide of US Service Members
15 Active Duty Cases That Beg for Prevention Efforts, Military Justice Reform, and the End of the Feres Doctrine
Washington D.C. Veteran’s Presentation on the Current Status of the Armed Forces at Fort Hood in Texas (December 12, 2017)
Army Soldiers at Fort Hood in Texas Are Dying at Alarming Rates Stateside (January 1, 2016 to Present)
August: U.S. Department of Defense Casualties Report from September 11, 2001 to Present (August 31, 2017)
September: U.S. Department of Defense Casualties Report from September 11, 2001 to Present (September 30, 2017)
Non Combat Deaths of Female Service Members in the U.S. Military (Iraq)
Non Combat Deaths of Female Soldiers in the US Military (Afghanistan)
Non Combat Deaths of Female Soldiers in the US Military (Other Areas)

Rep. Seth Moulton Introduces The Brandon Act to Change DoD Mental Health Policy, Pay Tribute to Fallen Navy Sailor Brandon Caserta (June 25, 2020)

The Brandon Act Seth Moulton.png

Representative Seth Moulton Press Release

The bill named in Caserta’s honor would create “Brandon Act” reporting, making it easier for service members to seek mental health care anonymously

Brandon Caserta

PO3 Brandon Caserta, U.S. Navy

WASHINGTON — Today, Representative Seth Moulton (D-MA) and Teri and Patrick Caserta, parents of fallen United States Navy Petty Officer Third Class Brandon Caserta, announced the introduction of The Brandon Act.

The bill would allow service members to anonymously report and seek mental health treatment by using a safe word like “Brandon Act.” It is designed to protect service members who experience mental health emergencies that result from hazing, bullying, or any other issue. It would allow them to seek help anonymously and, if necessary, outside of the chain of command. The bill’s introduction comes on the second anniversary of Brandon Caserta’s death from suicide, which he said was prompted by bullying and hazing within his unit.

“Brandon had a smile that made everyone want to smile. He was a very charismatic and upbeat young man. He made everyone’s day better no matter what they were going through. Brandon has always helped everyone he could. The Brandon Act would do this for his fellow service members in his death,” Teri and Patrick Caserta said, “Brandon did not die in vain and his legacy for helping others will continue long after his death when The Brandon Act is passed.”

Rep. Seth Moulton said: “Brandon tragically lost his life because he wasn’t able to get support for his mental health—something we should provide every American, especially every American hero in uniform. This bill will ensure our service members can get help and have no fear of retaliation for doing so, as it’s the right thing to do. Although we’ll never get Brandon back, his legacy will be the lives of many more great Americans he saves through this bill, and I’m proud of his parents who have fought so hard to tell his story and make this change.”

Brandon Caserta died by suicide on June 25, 2018 on the flight line at Naval Air Station Norfolk, Virginia. After his death, his parents and friends discovered six notes in which Brandon attributed his suicide to persistent hazing and bullying from some members and leaders of his Navy helicopter squadron.

The Brandon Act expands the existing law that regulates how service members are referred for mental health evaluations, in order to provide a confidential channel for service members to self-report mental health issues. The process would protect the anonymity of service members, similar to the restricted reporting option that protects victims of sexual assault.

Moulton made expanding mental health care and breaking the stigma around seeking help a top priority since disclosing last year that he is managing post traumatic stress from his service in Iraq as a United States Marine. In addition to The Brandon Act, Moulton has secured mandatory mental health check ups for service members who saw combat within 21 days of leaving the battlefield in the FY20 National Defense Authorization Act.

He also co-introduced, with fellow veteran Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT), the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act, which would make 9-8-8 the national number for mental health emergencies. The bill has passed in the Senate, and is one step away from a vote on the House floor. Yesterday, the FCC announced that it would issue a final rule on the designation of 9-8-8 as the national suicide prevention hotline in mid-July.

A copy of The Brandon Act is available for download here.

A legislative summary for The Brandon Act is available for download here.

Read more from the original source on Rep. Seth Moulton’s website here.

Related Links:
The Brandon Act (website)
The Brandon Act (Facebook)
Moulton Introduces Brandon Act to Change DoD Mental Health Policy, Pay Tribute to Fallen Navy Sailor Brandon Caserta (June 25, 2020)
Navy Sailor Brandon Caserta Died by Suicide at Naval Station Norfolk; Family Pushing for Suicide Prevention Legislation ‘The Brandon Act’ Focusing on Hazing & Bullying (June 25, 2018)
Military Policy and Legislation Considerations for the Investigations of Non Combat Death, Homicide, and Suicide of US Service Members (October 21, 2016)
Army Soldiers at Fort Hood in Texas Are Dying at Alarming Rates Stateside (Jan 1, 2016 to Present) 
15 Active Duty Cases That Beg for Prevention Efforts, Military Justice Reform, and the End of the Feres Doctrine
Military Justice for All (Facebook)

Army Veteran Brandon Brown Found Unresponsive in Harker Heights, Texas Home; Death Ruled Suicide by Local PD; Family Seeks Answers (March 20, 2020)

Brandon Brown 1

Brandon Brown, U.S. Army Veteran (photo: family)

Army veteran Brandon Brown 34, of Harker Heights, Texas, formerly of Shelbyville, Tennessee was found unresponsive on March 20, 2020 in his Harker Heights, Texas home. The Harker Heights Police Department’s cause of death ruling was suicide (self-inflicted gunshot wound). Brandon was preceded in death by his brother, Cameron Matthew Murray. He is survived by his parents and six siblings. According to family, Brandon was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army in 2013 and his last place of duty was at Fort Hood, Texas. Brandon was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Depression; he sought care from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The family feels uneasy about the entire situation and rightfully wants answers and justice for their loved one. Why would the local police department refuse entry in a “crime scene” when the death was ruled suicide? Why was the family not allowed to make an identification? Why did it take so long for them to receive Brandon’s body? Why was the Justice of the Peace pressuring the family to agree with the suicide ruling? Why pressure the family to cremate their loved one when it’s entirely up to them to make that decision. Help us hold the Harker Heights Police Department accountable and elevate the family’s voices so they can get Justice for Brandon Brown.

The circumstances surrounding the death of Brandon Brown are described in the below testimony by family:

On March 20, 2020 my brother, Brandon Brown, was found deceased in his home in Harker Heights, Texas. My mother received two phone calls before the detective called, one phone call she received was informing her the police gained access to the house, and then the other was a female telling my mother “She needed to get a pen and paper and write down this phone number. It’s not good but you have to hear it.” Then she went on to say, “It’s bad but not that bad.” Leaving us with false hope that Brandon was okay. Once the detective called my mother he informed her Brandon was found his home deceased and it was an apparent suicide. No one had heard from Brandon since around March 11, 2020. Family members called asking the Harker Heights Police Department to do a welfare check numerous times and we had the Veterans Affairs on the phone expressing the importance to get into his house due to Brandon having PTSD and depression. In the police report the detective wrote,” … there was no indication anything was wrong…”

On March 21, 2020 we arrived in Harker Heights, Texas at Brandon’s residence and there were two vehicles in the driveway. Two of my siblings got out of the vehicle to see who was at Brandon’s house and a man answered the door and quickly pulled the door up to his neck when my siblings stated who they were. He told them and my mother they could not come in because it was an active crime scene. As they were walking back from the house, another vehicle pulled up and a female got out with an attitude, and told my mother the man in the house was correct, it’s an active crime scene, he was the only one allowed in the house. (She was also on the phone with a person I choose not to identify at the moment.) The police were called and we got back into the vehicle to wait for them to arrive. While we were waiting both the male and female were on the porch laughing, pointing at the car, and going in and out of Brandon’s house. Neither of these individuals know any of us in the vehicle but gave statements to the police on March 20, 2020 saying we were “wretched” and “… it could get ugly.” The other individual stated “she was familiar with the family and was actually on the phone with her brother…”

It took exactly a month for them to release Brandon’s body so we could bring him back to Tennessee. They did not allow my mother or Brandon’s father to identify his body. The Justice of the Peace even tried to pressure my mother into say she believed Brandon died by suicide. They were pushing for cremation telling us his skin was falling off the bone.

We, the Brown family, need your help to find out what really took place with our loved one. We have reasonable doubt that foul play has taken place with our loved one. We do not believe the Harker Heights Police Department’s investigation was thorough or efficient in their findings.

-Brandon’s Family

Brandon Brown 2

Brandon Brown, U.S. Army Veteran (photo: family)

Related Links:
Obituary: Brandon Marquis Brown
Obituary: Brandon Marquis Brown
Justice for Brandon Brown | Facebook
Military Justice for All | Facebook
Army Soldiers at Fort Hood in Texas Are Dying at Alarming Rates Stateside (January 1, 2016 to Present)

Crimelines True Crime Podcast Featured the Death of Navy CPO John Keith Bemis: Was It Suicide or Murder? (December 22, 2019)

TWITTER: Tony Bemis @Bemis_Tony
FACEBOOK: Death of Navy CPO John Keith Bemis
JUSTICE: Reasons why the Bemis family want death investigation reopened
PETITION: Reopen death investigation of Chief Petty Officer John Keith Bemis
SENATORS: Contact your two Senators here (top left has drop down for state)
REPRESENTATIVE: Contact your Representative here (enter zip code)
SASC/HASC MEMBERS: Click here to contact the SASC/HASC members
OTHER CASES: 15 Active Duty Cases That Beg for Prevention Efforts, Military Justice Reform, and the End of the Feres Doctrine

“In August of 2012, Tony and Sue Bemis received the news no parent wants to hear. Their son, Chief Petty Officer John Keith Bemis had died by suicide. As they struggled to make sense of their loss, things didn’t add up. Seven years later, they still have questions about what exactly did happen to their son.” –CPO John Keith Bemis, Crimelines True Crime Podcast (December 22, 2019)

Related Links:
Crimelines True Crime Podcast (website)
Crimelines True Crime Podcast (Facebook)
Crimelines True Crime Podcast (Twitter)
CPO John Keith Bemis | Crimelines True Crime Podcast | Stitcher
CPO John Keith Bemis | Crimelines True Crime Podcast | PlayerFM
CPO John Keith Bemis | Crimelines True Crime Podcast | Luminary
CPO John Keith Bemis | Crimelines True Crime Podcast | Radio Public
CPO John Keith Bemis | Crimelines True Crime Podcast | PodBean
CPO John Keith Bemis | Crimelines True Crime Podcast | Podchaser
CPO John Keith Bemis | Crimelines True Crime Podcast | Spotify
Navy CPO John Keith Bemis Found Dead in California Residence; Death Ruled Suicide But Totality of Evidence Suggests Homicide (August 7, 2012)
Five Intriguing True Crime Podcasts Spotlighting Active Duty Military Suicide, Missing, and Murder Cases

Seven Intriguing True Crime Podcasts Spotlighting Active Duty Military Suicide, Missing, and Murder Cases

Crime Junkie Podcast:

Crime Junkie Podcast Featured the Suspicious Deaths of LaVena Johnson & Tina Priest in ‘Conspiracy: Women in the US Military’ (October 22, 2018)

Crimelines True Crime Podcast:

Crimelines True Crime Podcast w/ Death’s Door Podcast Featured the Last Military Execution of Army Private John Bennett in 1961 (April 22, 2018)

Crimelines True Crime Podcast Featured the Military Murder of Army Spc. Kamisha Block in Baghdad, Iraq (October 20, 2019)

Crimelines True Crime Podcast Featured the Death of Navy CPO John Keith Bemis: Was It Suicide or Murder? (December 22, 2019)

Death’s Door Podcast:

Death’s Door Podcast Featured the Case of Military Death Row Inmate Army MSG Timothy Hennis (September 14, 2017)

Military Murder True Crime Podcast:

Military Murder Podcast Premiered First Three Episodes on Veteran’s Day: Stephen Schap, Russell Williams, and Timothy Hennis (November 11, 2019)

Murderific True Crime Podcast:

Murderific True Crime Podcast Featured the Military Murder of Army Spc. Kamisha Block in Baghdad, Iraq (December 8, 2019)

The Generation Why Podcast:

The Generation Why Podcast Featured the Suspicious Death of Army Pfc. LaVena Johnson in Balad, Iraq: Was It Suicide or Murder? (November 19, 2017)

The Generation Why Podcast Featured the Mysterious Death of Air Force Colonel Philip Shue: Accident, Suicide or Murder? (November 4, 2018)

The Vanished Podcast:

The Vanished Podcast Featured the Mysterious Missing Persons Case of Army Pvt. Dakota Lee Stump at Fort Hood in Texas (December 15, 2017)

Marine Corps LCpl Riley Schultz Found Dead at Camp Pendleton Entry Control Point; Death Ruled Suicide by Self-Inflicted Gunshot Wound But Family Disputes Findings (March 15, 2019)

U.S. Marine Riley Schultz

Lance Corporal Riley Schultz, U.S. Marine Corps

In the early morning hours of March 15, 2019, Marine Corps Lance Corporal Riley Schultz was found dead near a guard shack with a gunshot wound in his head. Nineteen-year-old Lance Corporal Schultz was on guard duty at Camp Pendleton in California when this tragic incident occurred. Riley was discovered by a Marine who was assigned to replace him at this entry control point. The Naval Criminal Investigative Services (NCIS) were assigned to investigate Riley’s suspicious death but their investigation appeared to conclude when the medical examiner ruled that Lance Corporal Riley Schultz died by suicide via a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Riley’s family isn’t going to simply accept the outcome of the investigation. His family knows him better than anyone and his brother said Riley was the happiest he had ever been. Riley’s mom told the press that becoming a Marine was his dream and he worked hard and prepared for his enlistment before joining the USMC at the age of 17. Riley’s mom said he loved being a Marine and things were going well in his personal life when he died. Although this investigation appears to be an open and closed case with the Marine Corps, Riley’s family disputes the cause of death and plans to continue to fight for justice for Riley.

In the News:

The Marine from Colorado found dead at a Southern California base earlier this month died by suicide, according to 1st Lt. Cameron Edinburgh, a Marine Corps spokesperson. Rob Low reports. -FOX31 Denver (March 27, 2019)

The Navy is investigating after a Marine from Colorado was shot to death while on guard duty at Southern California’s Camp Pendleton. -CBS Denver (March 27, 2019)

Lance Cpl. Riley Schultz was discovered dead around 4 a.m. March 15 with a gunshot wound to the head. -Denver7 – The Denver Channel (March 27, 2019)

Related Links:
Lance Cpl. Riley Schultz From Longmont Killed While On Duty At Camp Pendleton
Marine Found Dead at Camp Pendleton Guard Post from Gunshot Wound to Head
Riley Schultz, Marine, shot dead while on guard duty at Camp Pendleton
Marine shot, killed while on guard duty at California base
Marine Shot, Killed While on Guard Duty at California Base
Colorado Marine shot, killed while on guard duty at California base
Marine from Colorado shot, killed while on guard duty at California base
Marine’s shooting death at Camp Pendleton guard post under investigation
Medical Examiner: Marine From Colorado Died By Suicide
19-Year-Old Marine Found Dead at Camp Pendleton Killed Himself: Officials
Death of Marine shot while on guard duty at Camp Pendleton ruled a suicide
Colorado Marine’s family not convinced death was a suicide
Family Convinced Marine’s Death at Camp Pendleton Was Not Suicide
Family of Camp Pendleton Marine disputes suicide ruling despite Marine Corps findings
Marine From Longmont Shot, Killed While on Duty At Camp Pendleton
Marine killed while on guard duty at California base; services to be held in Colorado
Longmont Marine took his own life
Violent Crime, Non Combat Death, and Suicide at Camp Pendleton, California (USMC)
Lance Cpl Riley Schultz, age 19 | Gun Memorial