Massachusetts School of Law Interviews Veteran Jennifer Norris About Violent Crime in the Military & Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Massachusetts School of Law explored violent crime in the military with Jennifer Norris, Military Justice for All, and the impact it has on civilians too. Jennifer talked about her experiences with four different perpetrators within the first two years of her enlisted career, the reporting & adjudication process, and the retaliation that ensued and eventually ended a fifteen year career. Also discussed was the jurisdictional hurdles that arise with a transient population like the military. For example, Jennifer was not able to press charges against one perpetrator because he moved out of state after learning he was getting reported. Another perpetrator was active duty Air Force at Keesler Air Force Base, therefore a state National Guard commander did not have jurisdiction of a federal employee. And finally, although Jennifer was able to move forward with two other cases involving high ranking National Guard members with over eighteen years of service, unlike the civilian world, after the cases were adjudicated, they retired with full military retirement benefits and no public records.

Jennifer also shared that although the Department of Defense downplays violent crime in the military and sexual assault appears to be closely monitored by some female members of Congress, everything is not under control. The crime appears to be escalating. The military doesn’t just have a sexual assault issue, they have a domestic violence and homicide issue as well. They also have a pattern of ruling soldier’s deaths both stateside and overseas as suicides, training accidents, and illness despite families strongly protesting and evidence revealing otherwise. Domestic violence is more likely to lead to homicide and unfortunately the two issues have not been given the attention they deserve because until you do the research yourself and see how many families and communities have been impacted by the crimes, suspicious death, and homicide of a soldier or civilian, you wouldn’t know because Congress and the main stream media do not give it the attention it deserves. Homicide and independent investigations of all suspicious deaths should be given the highest priority not only because people have lost their lives and families deserve answers but because someone needs to be held accountable. We must prevent others from becoming victims of these crimes too.

Jennifer discussed the lasting impacts the crimes and retaliation had on her. Jennifer was empowered after doing all that she could do to protect others from getting harmed by the same people, but her squadron did not see it the same way. After the cases were adjudicated, Jennifer faced hostility from a couple of the perpetrator’s friends and her Chain of Command once she returned back to work. She eventually had to transfer to another squadron. It was the professional and personal retaliation that made her start feeling more intense feelings of anxiety, depression, and even suicidal thoughts. And unfortunately her next squadron wasn’t any more welcoming then the last. She was told shortly after arriving that ‘no female makes it in the satellite communications work center’ and that she was experiencing hostility from her new Chain of Command because the old squadron called and informed them she was a ‘troublemaker.’ The retaliation had a direct impact on her mental health and cemented an already traumatizing experience with further abuse, indifference, and judgement. By the time she got to her third squadron (almost ten years after the first attack), she learned that the Department of Veterans Affairs treated Post Traumatic Stress resulting from military sexual trauma.

After Jennifer informed her third squadron that she was getting help for the PTS at the Department of Veterans Affairs, she was immediately red flagged and asked to leave the squadron until she could produce a note from her doctor giving her permission to be at work. She did this and jumped through the other hoops asked of her in an attempt to save her career but lost confidentiality in the process. Jennifer walked away from her career in the end because she refused to release her VA records for a security clearance investigation. The entire experience not only opened her up to judgement again (simply because she asked for some counseling due to what someone else did) but she had to prove that she was ‘fit for duty’ while the perpetrators were enjoying full military retirement benefits. Jennifer chose a second chance at a civilian career when she refused to release her confidential VA records for her security clearance investigation because she wanted to ensure a future free of a tainted security clearance. It makes zero sense that someone who is a victim of crime be negatively impacted by the crimes of others in yet another way. The hypocrisy of the system is truly revealed when you look at how the perpetrators were let off the hook but the victim of crime loses their military career because they had the strength to first report and then eventually ask for help.

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)

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Pfc. Karlyn Ramirez, US Army

Army soldier Pfc. Karlyn Ramirez, 24, of Fort Meade, Maryland was found shot to death in her home on August 25, 2015 while she lay next to her newborn baby. Karlyn worked for the National Security Agency (NSA) and had a top secret security clearance. Investigators looked to her roommate and her husband as persons of interests. The media speculated that maybe this crime had something to do with her job. The Anne Arundel Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation worked jointly to solve Karlyn’s homicide. A $20,000 reward was offered for information leading to the arrest of a suspect. More then a year later on October 6, 2016 Karlyn’s husband Army Sgt. Maliek Kearney and his new girlfriend Army veteran Dolores Delgado were arrested for the murder. In testimony, Sgt. Kearney admitted to shooting Karlyn four times, placing their baby in her dead mother’s arms, and then fleeing the scene leaving a sliding glass door open. Investigators report that the crime was a well thought out and executed plan implemented in an effort to throw homicide detectives off.

Dolores Delgado gave Sgt. Kearney the car, the gun, and gas cans to refuel with so he wouldn’t be caught on any security cameras as he drove from South Carolina to Maryland on August 24th to carry out the murder. Sgt. Kearney returned back to work the next morning at Fort Jackson in South Carolina to establish an alibi. Additional testimony revealed that Karlyn and Sgt. Kearney separated only two weeks after they had been married. They had been married for roughly five weeks when Karlyn was murdered. Karlyn attempted to get a restraining order on Sgt. Kearney just days before the murder after he showed up to her home unannounced in an effort to reconcile with her. After the failed attempt at reconciliation, Sgt. Kearney was hospitalized because he tried to end his life with sleeping pills. Sgt. Kearney was a decorated Army veteran of 15 years who had served tours in Iraq, Pakistan and South Korea. One of Sgt. Kearney’s superiors at Fort Sam Houston testified that he has been “nothing but an exemplary soldier.” A friend reported that he had no idea that Sgt. Kearney and Dolores Delgado were even dating. Sgt. Kearney  and Dolores Delgado are being prosecuted by the federal courts because they crossed state lines to execute a murder in another state. The U.S. Magistrate denied bail for Sgt. Kearney and Dolores Delgado and ordered they be transferred to Maryland to await trial.

“He is sick and depraved. Slightly laughable was his compassionate transfer to San Antonio to be close to the child he put in her dead mother’s arms.” -Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah Wannarka

Related Links:
Woman Found Slain In Severn Home Was Ft. Meade Soldier
Murdered Severn woman was soldier working at Fort Meade
Woman, 24, found murdered in Maryland home next to unharmed baby, 5 months
Soldier found dead from multiple gun shot wounds next to her five-month-old daughter
Family seeks answers, community reacts as investigation continues into slaying of Ft. Meade soldier
Maryland woman found dead next to baby; no arrests
Police need help to solve murder of Army Spc. Karlyn Ramirez, Fort Meade
Investigation continues into shooting death of pfc.
Family hopes to have Severn homicide victim returned to Texas
No arrest in the murder of Army Pfc. Karlyn Ramirez, public’s help still needed
Reward offered for information in soldier’s murder
‘Nothing she could have done to deserve this’
Police Search For Clues In Killing Of Ft. Meade Soldier; $20K Reward Offered
Murdered Mom ‘Had Her Life Stolen from Her’: Police Chief
Female Soldier Found Shot Dead Next to Baby After Making Panicked Calls
‘I Don’t Feel Safe’: Murdered Mom Told Family
Six Months Later, Still No Suspects in Fort Meade Soldier’s Death
$20,000 reward for details in Meade soldier’s killing
Police, Army offer $20K reward in death of soldier in Severn
Anne Arundel County Police Press Release for February 25, 2016
Army CID, Information Wanted, Homicide Investigation, Karlyn Ramirez
Female Soldier Found Shot Dead Next to Baby After Making Panicked Calls
Female Soldier Found Shot Dead Next to Baby After Panicked Calls – Pt. 1 (YouTube)
Female Soldier Found Shot Dead Next to Baby After Panicked Calls – Pt. 2 (YouTube)
Soldier arrested in San Antonio, charged in killing of wife
US Army Sergeant and his girlfriend are arrested over killing of his soldier wife who was found shot dead next to their unharmed baby daughter at home
Soldier and Girlfriend Arrested in His Wife’s Death — More Than a Year After Her Slaying
Army sergeant, girlfriend charged in the killing of his wife
Army sergeant, girlfriend charged in death of wife, also a soldier
2 arrested in 2015 slaying of soldier assigned to Fort Meade
NCO arrested, charged with murdering his soldier wife
Husband Killed Wife, Placed Baby in Her Arms, Fled Maryland: FBI
Husband, His Girlfriend Charged In Fort Meade Mom’s Murder (Update)
Testimony: San Antonio soldier placed baby in his dead wife’s arms
South Carolina soldier accused of killing wife appears in San Antonio court
Duo to return to Maryland to face trial in soldier’s death
This Army Soldier And Loving Mother Tragically Murdered, Please Pray For Her 5-Month-Old Baby


Karlyn Ramirez, 24, was killed in her Maryland home. When police found her, she wasn’t alone. But the only living witness can’t say who killed her. -Crime Watch Daily

SrA Blanca Luna, USAF Reserve, Was Discovered Stabbed to Death in Base Lodging at Sheppard AFB in Texas, Incident is Under Investigation (2008)

SrA Blanca Luna, US Air Force (2008)

SrA Blanca Luna, US Air Force Reserve

On March 7, 2008, SrA Blanca A. Luna, 27, US Air Force Reserve, was found unresponsive and with injuries consistent with a stab wound in her billeting room at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas three days prior to graduating and heading back home. She was discovered with a knife in the back of her neck according to the death certificate and no pants or underwear and dried fluid near her groin according to the autopsy. She was taken to a local hospital in Wichita Falls where she died shortly thereafter. She was an Air Force Reservist on temporary duty at Sheppard AFB attending a technical training course for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC).  She was a Marine from 1997 to 2002 and then became a Reservist in 2007 at the 434rd Civil Engineer Squadron, Grissom Air Reserve Base in Indiana. She loved the military. She was living in the Chicago, Illinois area and studying Graphic Design.

Because this death occurred on a federal installation, the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) was the lead on the investigation. They initially labeled the death a “suspicious incident”. According to AFOSI, the FBI assisted with the investigation. The FBI processed the crime scene and collaborated with the ensuing Air Force investigation. The AFOSI referred to the death as a homicide in the media in the early stages of the investigation. Six months later they would be accused of leading the family to believe it was a suicide despite evidence suggesting otherwise. Six months after her death, no official determination was made as to the manner of death: homicide, suicide, or accident. Eventually, the family learned from the autopsy report that the official manner of death was considered “undetermined”. No suspects were ever identified.

“AFOSI has been the lead investigative agency since Airman Luna’s death. At AFOSI’s request, the FBI sent an evidence response team to process the scene immediately after Airman Luna was found, and the two agencies have continued to cooperate in the investigation. Agents have been assigned to the case on a full-time basis, and more than 350 interviews have been conducted at locations across the country. Findings have been reviewed by a diverse team of experts, including specialists in forensics, polygraph, computer investigation, behavioral psychology and forensic pathology…More than 200 DNA tests have been done.”

Two of Blanca’s friends who had visited her at the base noted that she had talked about problems with some airman in her classes. She felt that they resented her because of her rank and the fact that she was a woman in a leadership position. When Blanca’s body arrived in Chicago, the family observed bruises on Blanca’s face as if she had been punched or had fallen and scratches between her fingers that appeared to be defensive wounds. Luna’s family insists that she would never commit suicide and that the evidence does not support that suggestion. In October 2008, Gloria Barrios traveled to Texas from Chicago to get some answers, including the autopsy report, from the Air Force but she didn’t get anything except a tour of the base. Gloria had questions about the bruises, defensive wounds, and the fluid found near Blanca’s groin but never received any answers. Blanca’s mom feels that this is a cover-up.

The family believes that AFOSI did not investigate the crime with due diligence and was trying to lead them to believe Blanca committed suicide. They initially determined that it was a homicide and investigated it as a crime. This is problematic because instead of listing the death as an unsolved murder or cold case, it can be written off as a suicide and never investigated again. After Gloria’s visit to Sheppard AFB, the Air Force released a statement that said “deaths are investigated as homicides initially, but that nothing suggests that anyone on base is in danger.” This statement is troublesome because the murder occurred within the confines of a secure military base. One cannot get onto the base without military identification. It had to be someone affiliated with the base that either lives and/or works there. The Air Force cannot guarantee the base’s safety when they do not even know who committed the crime. Blanca’s mom wants answers from military officials, and she wants them to classify Luna’s death as a homicide and find the culprit. Was the DNA collected at the scene compared to the national DNA database (CODIS)? Five years later, still with no answers, Gloria Barrios was battling depression and hospitalized. Eight years later, the case is still considered “under investigation” and highlights the need for cold case squads in the military.

“My gut feeling is they are looking for a culprit outside of the base, but the murderer is on the base. They’re looking in the wrong place…I can’t express what I feel about these people. They’re [Air Force] treating me like dirt. They are driving me crazy. It’s like they’re playing with my mind, giving me bad information.” -Gloria Barrios (Blanca’s mom)

The incident is under investigation by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations and the Sheppard AFB security forces squadron. Anyone with information regarding the case should call Sheppard Air Force Base security forces at (940) 676-2981 [or Sheppard AFOSI at (940) 676-1852].

Related Links:
Air Force identifies deceased Airman
Air Force Identifies Murdered Reservist
‘Suspicious’ death: Student airman with stab wound dies in hospital
Texas Air Force Reservist Found Stabbed to Death in Hotel
Indiana Air Force reservist found fatally stabbed in Texas
Indiana Airman found dead at base in Texas
Grissom Airman found dead in Texas
Military probes reservist’s slaying
Murder on the Base?
OSI continues to investigate March 7 death
Airman’s Mom Seeks Truth About Death
Mother of Murdered Female Airman To Request Meeting on Oct. 3 with Sheppard Air Force Base officials on Status of Investigation
Blanca Luna’s mother went to Texas but learned nothing about her daughter’s death on an air force base
Dead airman’s family unhappy about lack of progress in case
Family suspects cover-up in airman’s death on base
The Murder of Military Women Continues
Our Town: Gloria Barrios
Justice for Blanca Luna
5th Anniversary of Unsolved Murder on Sheppard Air Force Base
Find a Grave: Blanca Adriana Luna (1980 – 2008)

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)