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

Open Letter to House of Representatives in Support of an Independent Investigation of the Murder of Vanessa Guillen at Fort Hood (July 7, 2020)

Army Soldiers at Fort Hood in Texas Are Dying at Alarming Rates Stateside (January 1, 2016 to Present): https://wp.me/p3XTUi-5oF

Dear Rep. Jared Golden,

I write to you as a victim of crime in the military and as a military crime historian. I have researched the US military’s crime problems for the last 10 years and have documented as much as humanly possible on my Military Justice for All website. I have over 1000 cases of suspicious deaths, homicide and missing cases. Fort Hood has been problematic for years. I visited both Senator Collins and Senator King in DC to warn them about the problems at Fort Hood in December 2017 and to ask them for their help. It fell on deaf ears. Much like Vanessa Guillen, I too was afraid to report sexual harassment and sexual assault for fear of retaliation. I didn’t report until my supervisor in the Chain of Command attempted to force himself on me. Prior to this incident, I experienced daily sexual harassment and he would give me assignments that isolated me so he could do it with no witnesses.

Rep. Sylvia Garcia is asking that the DoD IG do an investigation of the circumstances that led up to the murder of Vanessa Guillen at Fort Hood. I am asking you to support her and all of our service members by adding your name to the list of representatives who support these efforts. Fort Hood leadership has failed time and time again and it’s due time that someone take a look at this problematic base. It’s a sad day when we lose 133 servicemembers stateside to violent crime, suicide, and training accidents compared to 2 combat deaths and 4 insider attacks overseas since 2016.

I also ask that you support legislation such as the Military Justice Improvement Act to give our service members a chance to report unsafe situations to an independent authority outside the Chain of Command. As long as service members are fearful of retaliation (which is very real and the reason I have compounded PTSD), we will continue to see high rates of PTSD, murder and suicide on military bases. According to authorities, Vanessa Guillen was murdered because she was planning on reporting someone she worked with for adultery, and this same individual may also have been sexually harassing her. It is unclear at this time who sexually harassed her but she told her family she was scared and feared reporting the sexual harassment to the Chain of Command because it wasn’t taken seriously and she feared retaliation.

Over the years, I have realized that most don’t realize what it’s like to be enlisted and this still rings true. Imagine how powerless we feel as lower enlisted when someone higher ranking than us can literally get away with crime because they are part of the reporting mechanism or they simply don’t care. While Congress sits on their hands, veterans are flocking to the VA to file PTSD claims and military families are grieving the loss of their loved ones whether it be by murder or suicide. I understand why someone might take their own life when they feel trapped and have no way out.

Please do the right thing and support Rep. Garcia, Rep. Speier and Senator Gillibrand.

Sincerely,

Air Force Veteran

Rep Sylvia Garcia

Find your Representative here.

The Murder Squad Podcast: The Murder of Vanessa Guillen and the Unsolved Homicides of Fort Hood (July 6, 2020)

The Murder Squad.jpg

The Murder Squad Podcast

“In this episode, Billy and Paul will delve into the eight cases of unsolved homicides and unknown causes of death of soldiers from the base. And with the help of Murder Squad listeners, they take a closer look at how the US Army investigates sexual assault, sexual harassment and missing persons amidst their ranks—including the cases of Vanessa Guillen and LaVena Johnson.”

Listen to Episode 57: The Murder of Vanessa Guillen and the Unsolved Homicides of Fort Hood from The Murder Squad Podcast here.

Petitions:
Reopen the investigation of LaVena Johnson’s death
HOLD THE US ARMY ACCOUNTABLE: Justice for Vanessa Guillen

Related Links:
The Murder of Vanessa Guillen and the Unsolved Homicides of Fort Hood
Army Soldiers at Fort Hood in Texas Are Dying at Alarming Rates Stateside (January 1, 2016 to Present)
Seven Unsolved Homicide Cases Affiliated with Fort Hood (January 1, 2016 to Present)
Army Pfc. LaVena Johnson Died of Non Combat Related Injuries in Iraq; Death Ruled Suicide But Independent Investigation Revealed Rape & Murder (July 19, 2005)
Federal Criminal Complaint for Cecily Ann Aguilar, U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas (July 2, 2020)

Who Killed Thomas Boyle in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan? (June 19, 2012)

Thomas Boyle

Thomas J. Boyle, Jr. died in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan on June 19, 2012.

“Obviously, suspicions are not proof of wrong doing, but Pauline Boyle has discovered enough evidence to warrant an all-out independent investigation. The problem is that asking the Army to investigate itself is asking the Fox to guard the hen house. The result will always be questionable. The Boyle family does have hard facts that clearly indicates there was an overt attempt to cover-up the circumstances of Thomas J. Boyle’s death.

Was there a military drug cartel that no one wanted to talk about, or was it a conspiracy of some of the soldiers on base to stop the change of command and keep the lieutenant colonel in command for as long as possible.”

Learn more here: The Pre-Meditated Murder of Thomas Boyle, and Ensuing Cover-Up of his Murder by the United States Army | Military Corruption

Who Killed Thomas Boyle? (Part 1)

Who Killed Thomas Boyle? (Part 2)

Who Killed Thomas Boyle? (Part 3)

Who Killed Thomas Boyle? (Part 4)

Who Killed Thomas Boyle? (Part 5)

Who Killed Thomas Boyle? (Part 6)

Who Killed Thomas Boyle? (Part 7)

Who Killed Thomas Boyle? (Part 8)

Who Killed Thomas Boyle? (Part 9)

Related Links:
Obituary: Thomas J. Boyle, Jr.
Thomas Boyle Remembered on Anniversary of Death
“Who Killed Thomas Boyle?” Part 5 Video Released
Who Killed Thomas Boyle? Part 6
Who Killed Thomas Boyle? Part 8
Who Killed Thomas Boyle? (Part 1)
Who Killed Thomas Boyle? (Part 2)
Who Killed Thomas Boyle? (Part 3)
Who Killed Thomas Boyle? (Part 4)
Who Killed Thomas Boyle? (Part 5)
Who Killed Thomas Boyle? (Part 6)
Who Killed Thomas Boyle? (Part 7)
Who Killed Thomas Boyle? (Part 8)
Who Killed Thomas Boyle? (Part 9)

Fort Campbell Army Pfc. LaVena Johnson Died of Non Combat Related Injuries in Iraq; Death Ruled Suicide But Independent Investigation Revealed Rape and Murder (July 19, 2005)

LaVena Johnson

Pfc. Lavena Johnson, U.S. Army

Editors Note: Need to get up to speed quick with the unsolved case of Fort Campbell Army Pfc. Lavena Johnson, please check out Episode 40 on the Military Murder Podcast.

Army Pfc. LaVena Johnson, 19, died of non combat related injuries in Balad, Iraq on July 19, 2005. Pfc. Johnson was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom on behalf of the Army’s 129th Corps Support Battalion in Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Unlike most, the Department of Defense did not announce that LaVena’s death was under investigation in their press release. The Army Criminal Investigation Division later determined that Pfc. Johnson’s cause of death was suicide by self inflicted gunshot wound. The Army tried telling the family that LaVena used her own M-16 to commit the suicide. The family immediately suspected foul play and ordered an independent autopsy for LaVena. LaVena was not depressed and showed no signs of suicidal ideation. As a matter of fact, she was happy and bubbly and looking forward to going home for Christmas. After the family saw LaVena’s body and obtained investigative documents from the Army, they quickly realized that LaVena did not die by suicide, she was raped and murdered.

According to the family, the Army never investigated LaVena’s death as a homicide nor did they do a rape kit test or autopsy. The family gleaned from the paperwork that Army investigators first considered LaVena’s death a homicide and recorded that in their paperwork, but within a short window of opportunity were suddenly ordered to cease their investigation and reclassify her death as a suicide. Ten years later, LaVena’s father, Dr. John Johnson, continues to fight for justice for his daughter. And, although he has had struggles getting media coverage, he has forged out on his own to speak the truth for LaVena. Dr. Johnson is featured in a documentary called The Silent Truth which presents the heartbreaking story of his daughter LaVena. Pfc. LaVena Johnson was betrayed by the very people she depended on for her life, and the military industrial complex who would rather silence the truth then harm their reputation.

Petition: Reopen the investigation of LaVena Johnson’s death

In the News:

Nineteen year-old Army PFC LaVena Johnson, was found dead on a military base in Balad, Iraq in 2005. The U.S. Army ruled Lavena’s death a suicide, but an autopsy report and photographs revealed Johnson had a broken nose, black eye, loose teeth, burns from a corrosive chemical on her genitals, and a gunshot wound that seemed inconsistent with suicide. LaVena’s father, John Johnson, shares his family’s fight to get answers from the military about his daughter’s death. -Protect Our Defenders (July 14, 2012)

Pfc. LaVena Johnson died in Iraq on July 19th, 2005 and her family needs your help. -Unsolved Mysteries (September 26, 2014)

Many have heard about the efforts for justice in the case of Army PFC LaVena Johnson. In 2005 after only 6 weeks of her deployment in Iraq, PFC LaVena Johnson was found dead. The Army says suicide, but after close evaluation and discovering a plethora of discrepancies in the Army’s report, LaVena’s father Dr. John H. Johnson began the fight for justice for his daughter. On this episode of The Rock Newman Show our special guest are LaVena’s father, Dr. John H. Johnson and attorney Donald V. Watkins. We warn our viewers that this episode of The Rock Newman Show goes into deep detail concerning the evidence and death of PFC LaVena Johnson. Dr. John H. Johnson and Donald V. Watkins contend that by no means is this case a suicide, and say they even know the name of the culprit. -The Rock Newman Show (February 11, 2016) 

Learn more here: ACT Now! Stand for PFC LaVena Lynn Johnson

Related Links:
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
10 Unsolved Military Cases
The Silent Truth
Ten years later, a soldier’s family still grieves and questions the Army’s version of her death
LaVena Johnson: Army Still Calls Grisly Rape and Murder ‘Suicide’
A Political Season: Justice for PFC LaVena Johnson
What the Death of Army Pfc LaVena Johnson Says About Us
No Justice, No Peace: Remembering Pfc. LaVena Johnson (Includes Petition)
Justice for Pfc. LaVena Johnson?
Justice For LaVena Johnson: Raped & Murdered Or Suicide? The Evidence Says One Thing; U.S. Military Says Another
New Details Emerge After Second Autopsy of Pfc Lavena Johnson
Rape in the armed forces, Breaking the silence
Sexual Violence Against Women in the US Military: The Search for Truth and Justice
The Silent Truth Documentary aka The LaVena Johnson Murder Cover-Up
LaVena Johnson: Raped and Murdered on a Military Base in Iraq
What’s The Military Hiding About LaVena Johnson & Kamisha Block’s Deaths?
Family disputes Army’s suicide finding in daughter’s death
Suicide or Murder? Three Years After the Death of Pfc. LaVena Johnson in Iraq, Her Parents Continue Their Call for a Congressional Investigation
Soldier’s Family Challenges Army Suicide Report
The Scandal of Military Rape
Documents and photos suggest foul play in death of Private Johnson
Army Pvt. Lavena L. Johnson
Who Killed PFC LaVena Johnson???
Democracy Now: Pvt LaVena Johnson
The Mysterious Death of Lavena Johnson
LaVena Johnson’s Murder, An Analysis of Crime Scene
U.S. Army Covers Up Womans Murder and gets Caught!
“The U.S. Army Raped & Murdered My Daughter!!! Justice For Pfc LaVena Johnson!!!”
Black teen in the army raped and murdered but the army says it was suicide
Non Combat Deaths of Female Service Members in the U.S. Military (Iraq)
Conspiracy: Women in the US Military | Crime Junkie Podcast (website)
Army Pfc. LaVena Johnson Died of Non Combat Related Injuries in Iraq; Death Ruled Suicide But Independent Autopsy 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)
Crime Junkie Podcast Featured the Suspicious Deaths of LaVena Johnson & Tina Priest in ‘Conspiracy: Women in the US Military’ (October 22, 2018)
The Strange & Unexplained: ‘The Biggest Suspicious Unsolved Military Mysteries’
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
Military Murder Podcast Featured the Suspicious Case of Fort Campbell Army Pfc. Lavena Johnson in Balad, Iraq (July 27, 2020)