Fort Hood’s Toxic Culture? Red Flags Raised Over Mysterious Disappearances, Sexual Assaults | Fox News (January 6, 2021)

Fort Hood’s toxic culture? Red flags raised over mysterious disappearances, sexual assaults | Hollie McKay, Fox News (January 6, 2020):

The sizable military installation has long come under fire over allegations of coverups and abuse

The report also pointed to a lack of experience and high turnover within the ranks of the Criminal Investigation Department, leading to problems with launching sufficient investigations.

As it stands, there are more than 1,000 deserters wanted by the U.S. Army and it remains unclear explicitly what is being done to determine their fates. Ten months before Guillen disappeared, Pvt. Gregory Morales also vanished from Fort Hood. His body was unintentionally recovered a few miles from the base in June, during the search for Guillen. He had been listed as AWOL in August 2019 and later as a deserter.

However, for his mother, Kim Wedel, her life in Oklahoma halted as she pleaded for assistance and answers from Fort Hood’s Army Criminal Investigation Department (CID).

“If any other business had this many glaring problems, leadership would be gone. Why did it take an investigation to see that the CID was understaffed and overwhelmed? There was a lack of response from CID, and they certainly didn’t know what to do with me as a mom calling all the time,” Wedel told Fox News.

The Killeen Police Department is heading the investigation into Morales’ death, in which foul play is suspected, according to local reports. 

“The Army didn’t care enough to see there was a problem,” Wedel asserted. “I still haven’t really heard from anyone down there. My son will never be at the forefront, and it is shocking how many parents like us are out there. People don’t just disappear because they choose to.”

However, many soldiers and families connected to Fort Hood told Fox News that the personnel changes were merely cosmetic, and they feared “business as usual” when the spotlight faded.

Jennifer Norris, an Air Force veteran and military crime analyst who has focused on Fort Hood issues since 2016, said in order to look forward, one also must look back.

“The deaths ruled a suicide – they need to be investigated. Why did they take their lives? Were those deaths properly investigated? Was it really a suicide, or was it a murder? Everything needs to be questioned,” she added. “We can’t just pretend the last 20 years didn’t happen.” 

Read more from Fox News here.

Related Links:
Report of the Fort Hood Independent Review Committee (November 6, 2020)
15 Things Every American Should Know About the Fort Hood Report
Fort Hood’s toxic culture? Red flags raised over mysterious disappearances, sexual assaults
Tragedies At Fort Hood Have Led The Army To Rethink Its Response When Soldiers Go Missing
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 the Armed Forces at Fort Hood in Texas (December 12, 2017)
Speier, Mullin Introduce Bipartisan ‘I Am Vanessa Guillén Act’ to Transform the Military’s Response to Sexual Violence & Missing Servicemembers (September 16, 2020)
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)
Timeline: Army Sgt. Kelton Sphaler and Army Vet Scott Weinhold Reported Missing at Belton Lake on Fort Hood; After Search Launched, Both Recovered in Water (January 21, 2019)
Fort Hood Army Cpl. Christopher Ferguson Died of Undetermined Causes; CID Claimed Death Was Accident; CBS News Reported Suicide (March 25, 2007)
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)
Research Reveals Pattern of Violence, Suspicious Deaths, Problematic Death Investigations, and Cover-up at Fort Hood in Texas (September 11, 2020)
Stars and Stripes: Why is Fort Hood the Army’s Most Crime-Ridden Post? (August 21, 2020)
Austin American-Statesman: Vanessa Guillen’s Death Shines Light on More Tragedies at Fort Hood (July 28, 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)
Unsolved Homicide Cases Affiliated with Fort Hood (January 1, 2016 to Present)
Never Forgotten: The Fort Hood Fallen (2016)

Unsolved Homicide: Army Veteran Cleveland Jermaine “CJ” Lewis Fatally Shot & Killed in Front of Home in Killeen, Texas Neighborhood (August 4, 2018)

Cleveland Lewis

Cleveland Jermaine Lewis, U.S. Army Veteran

On August 4, 2018, Army veteran Cleveland Jermaine Lewis, 33, was fatally shot in front of his house in a Killeen, Texas neighborhood. This is an unsolved homicide case and strikingly similar to the unsolved homicide of 19-year-old Fort Hood Army Pvt. Justin Lewis. Pvt. Lewis was also fatally shot and killed in a Killeen, Texas neighborhood on April 17, 2017.

If you have any information that can help investigators solve these two homicides, please contact the Killeen Police Department, Crime Stoppers, and/or report a crime tip to the Army Criminal Investigation Division.

“Detectives are asking anyone who has information about this Murder, to contact Crime Stoppers at 254-526-TIPS (8477) or go online at http://www.bellcountycrimestoppers.com. You can also download the P3Tips App for IOS or Android and give an anonymous tip. All information is confidential and anonymous and if your tip leads to the arrest of the person(s) responsible, you could be eligible to receive a reward up to $1,000 in cash.” –Killeen PD Press Release (August 6, 2018)

Seven (7) criminal homicides were reported in 2018:

Lamar Marcell Roberson, 32, was shot and killed Feb. 28 in the 900 block of Culp Avenue.

Owen-Palacios Hernandez, 35, was shot and killed April 23 in the 800 block of Root Avenue.

Heather Mae Walker, 29, stabbed to death on June 9 in 2800 block of Phoenix Drive. Police have not released the manner of death in Walker’s case.

Cleveland Jermaine Lewis, 33, known as “C.J.”, was shot and killed Aug. 4 in front of his house in the 4500 block of Alan Kent Drive.

Deandre Patrick Thomas, 41, was shot and killed Aug. 18 in the 2800 block of South Fort Hood Street at a nightclub.

Marquis Demps, 21, was shot and killed on Dec. 3 in the 400 block of Root Avenue near local Boys & Girls Club.

Yorrick Michaels-Toms, 24, was shot and killed on Dec. 20 at an apartment in the 4500 block of Westcliff Road.

Source: Argument leads to fatal shooting Saturday in Killeen (Killeen Daily Herald, August 18, 2018)

Related Links:
Murdered in Killeen
Cleveland Jermaine Lewis Funeral (GoFundMe)
Killeen police looking for shooter involved in homicide
Victim of deadly shooting in local neighborhood identified
Friends and family remember C.J., Killeen homicide victim
Family mourns death of Killeen man gunned down in neighborhood shooting
KPD Investigates a Murder on Alan Kent
Year in Crime: Homicides decreased in 2018 in Killeen
Army Soldiers at Fort Hood in Texas Are Dying at Alarming Rates Stateside (January 1, 2016 to Present)

Killeen Daily Herald: ‘Former platoon sergeant was on leave during the [Fort Hood] rollover accident, yet found at fault’ (June 2, 2018)

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“The whole thing was hard to process. I was angry, I was pissed off, and I didn’t know how they were going to charge me,” Caroline Blaze said. “All I knew was I was being charged and I was literally done with the Army.”

Blaze said she received a local general reprimand that stayed in her records for a year around the same time she was being processed for a medical retirement. She said she was never notified or saw the recommendation for her punishment and to this day she doesn’t know what was written about her.

Blaze said she even became suicidal and had a suicide attempt several months after receiving the reprimand.

“It was a bad time and a hard time. To say that I was at fault for these soldiers lives like I caused their death.”

Read more from he Killeen Daily Herald here.

Honoring:
Spc. Christine Faith Armstrong, 27, of Twentynine Palms, California
Pfc. Brandon Austin Banner, 22, of Milton, Florida
Staff Sgt. Miguel Angel Colonvazquez, 38, of Brooklyn, New York
Pvt. Isaac Lee Deleon, 19, of San Angelo, Texas
Pfc. Zachery Nathaniel Fuller, 23, of Palmetto, Florida
Pvt. Eddy Raelaurin Gates, 20, of Dunn, North Carolina
Pvt. Tysheena Lynette James, 21, of Jersey City, New Jersey
Spc. Yingming Sun, 25, of Monterey Park, California
Cadet Mitchell Alexander Winey, 21, of Valparaiso, Indiana

Related Links:
On This Day, Eight Soldiers & One West Point Cadet Died in a Flash Flood Training Accident at Fort Hood in Texas (June 2, 2016)
Army Soldiers at Fort Hood in Texas Are Dying at Alarming Rates Stateside
Violent Crime, Suicide, and Non Combat Death at Fort Hood, Texas (US Army)
Military Policy & Legislation Considerations for the Investigations of Non Combat Death, Homicide, & Suicide of US Service Members (2016)
Washington DC Veteran’s Presentation on the Current Status of the Armed Forces at Fort Hood in Texas (2017)
75 Fort Hood Soldiers Died Since January 2016: 7 Overseas Deaths, 3 Non Combat; 68 Stateside Deaths, 34 ‘Suicides’, 1 Unsolved Homicide (2018)
The Fort Hood Fallen on Facebook

2016:
Army: Warning issued before 9 died in June Fort Hood floodwaters
Torrential rains flood Texas, US soldiers killed
Fort Hood Was Closing Roads When Truck Overturned
Fort Hood Officials Were Closing Roads As Truck Overturned
Fort Hood deaths in flooding raises questions about training
Fatal Fort Hood accident raises questions about training
Fatal Fort Hood accident raises questions about training
Fatal Fort Hood accident in Texas raises questions about training
Army launches two investigations into Fort Hood truck accident that killed 9

2017:
‘Apathetic Safety Mentality’ Cited in Fort Hood Wreck That Killed 9
‘Apathetic Safety Mentality’ Cited In Fort Hood Wreck That Killed 9
Safety ‘Apathy’ Blamed in Accident at Texas’ Ft. Hood That Killed 9 US Soldiers
Report: Fort Hood truck crash blamed on driver
NCO blamed for accident that killed nine soldiers at Fort Hood
Army blames staff sergeant for fatal Fort Hood truck accident
Fort Hood truck crash that killed 9 blamed on staff sergeant
‘They never should have been out there’: Fort Hood soldier’s father struggles to understand deadly disaster
Widow disputes investigation results blaming husband for Fort Hood accident
Army report on fatal Fort Hood training largely redacted
Fort Hood: Anniversary of deaths of 9 soldiers passes quietly

2018:
Families remember the 9 who died in 2016 training accident
Reports still raise questions about Fort Hood accident two years later
Former platoon sergeant was on leave during the rollover accident, yet found at fault
Survivor of 2016 Fort Hood training accident recalls flood
Survivor of 2016 Fort Hood training accident recalls flood
2 years later: Survivor of fatal Fort Hood water training accident speaks out

Army Spc. Darius Cooper Swept Away in Floodwater Crossing at Fort Hood; Body Never Recovered, Military Board Ruled Deceased 2 Months Later (April 11, 2017)

Darius Cooper

Spc. Darius Cooper, U.S. Army

On June 16, 2017, Fort Hood published a press release indicating the Fort Hood Fire and Rescue teams were unsuccessful in locating Army Spc. Darius Cooper, who was swept away in flooding waters at Clear Creek near Turkey Run Road on Fort Hood just before 6 a.m. on April 11, 2017. The press release informed the public that the Army appointed a board of inquiry (per Army Regulation 638-8, Army Casualty Program, and Department of Defense Instruction 2310.05, Accounting for Missing Persons) to conduct a status determination and ruled that Spc. Cooper was deceased, his official date of death was April 11, 2017. Spc. Cooper, 40, listed San Antonio, Texas as his home of record and he entered active-duty service in June 2008 as a culinary specialist. At the time of his death, Spc. Cooper was assigned to the 2nd Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment at Fort Hood in Texas since June 2016. Spc. Cooper deployed overseas in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. As of 2019, Spc. Cooper’s body has not been located, therefore he is still missing despite the status of determination ruling.

“More than 800 individuals were involved in the search, including emergency responders from Texas Task Force One boat and dog teams, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, Texas Game Warden’s lake search teams, Morgan’s Point Resort Police Department dive and sonar search teams, Fort Hood’s Crisis Response Battalion ground search teams, and 1st Air Cavalry Brigade helicopter assets who aided in the search.” -Fort Hood Press Center (June 16, 2017)

Timeline of Events:

April 11, 2017

Emergency crews respond to vehicles caught in high water (Fort Hood Press Center)
UPDATE 1: All Fort Hood low-water crossings, Old Georgetown Road remain closed (Fort Hood Press Center)
UPDATE 2: Driver’s vehicle recovered without driver inside (Fort Hood Press Center)

April 12, 2017

UPDATE 3: Texas’ Task Force One joins the search for missing person in Clear Creek (Fort Hood Press Center)
UPDATE 4: Updated photos and Broll of the April 12 ongoing search efforts (Fort Hood Press Center)

April 13, 2017

UPDATE 5: Search and rescue teams increased their effort to find the missing individual April 13, as water levels reduced allowing teams access to more locations. (Fort Hood Press Center)
UPDATE 6: Search team officials conduct media engagement (Fort Hood Press Center)

April 19, 2017

UPDATE 7: Deliberate search continues for missing individual (Fort Hood Press Center)

May 11, 2017

UPDATE 8: Deliberate search continues for missing Soldier (Fort Hood Press Center)

June 15, 2017

Soldier swept away at Fort Hood crossing declared dead (KWTX)
Ft. Hood declares missing soldier swept away in floodwaters dead (KXAN)
Fort Hood soldier missing since April declared dead by Army (WFAA)
Fort Hood calls off search, releases name of soldier who died in April 11 flash flood (Killeen Daily Herald)
Fort Hood soldier lost during April floods determined deceased (Statesman)
Fort Hood declares missing soldier deceased, release identity (CBS Austin)
Army: Fort Hood soldier determined dead after being swept away by flood waters (Army Times)

June 16, 2017

UPDATE 9: Fort Hood Soldier lost in April 11 flash flood determined deceased (Fort Hood Press Center)
Fort Hood Officials Declare Missing Soldier Dead (CBS DFW)
Soldier Swept Away By Flood Waters Pronounced Dead (KTEM)

Related Links:
SPC Darius Cooper, Afghanistan (DVIDS)
Army Soldiers at Fort Hood in Texas Are Dying at Alarming Rates Stateside (2019)
The Fort Hood Fallen on Facebook

Fort Hood Army Sgt. Dougal Mitchell Died From Injuries Suffered in an Automobile Accident in Georgetown, Texas; Accident Claimed Two Lives (June 11, 2016)

Dougal Mitchell

Sgt. Dougal Mitchell, U.S. Army

Fort Hood Army Sgt. Dougal Mitchell, 32, died from injuries suffered in an automobile accident in Georgetown, Texas on June 11, 2016. According to the Killeen Daily Herald, the automobile accident resulted in the death of two people. Sgt. Mitchell’s home of record is listed as Palmdale, California and he enlisted in the Army in September 2002. Sgt. Mitchell was a petroleum supply specialist with the 215th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood. Sgt. Mitchell deployed five times: once to United Arab Emirates, three times to Kuwait, and once to Iraq. Sgt. Mitchell’s awards and decorations include two Army Commendation Medals, five Army Achievement Medals, four Army Good Conduct Medals, two Kuwait Defense Service Medals, the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, and five Overseas Service Ribbons.

Related Links:
Obituary: Sgt Dougal Mitchell
Greywolf Brigade honors SGT Dougal Mitchell
Fort Hood IDs soldier killed in car crash
Fort Hood identifies soldier killed auto accident
Fort Hood soldier dies after car accident in Georgetown
Fort Hood: Soldier dies of injuries from traffic accident
Dougal Mitchell died in a Georgetown, TX car accident
Sgt. Dougal Mitchell Killed in Georgetown, TX Accident
Details surface in June crash that killed 2
Army Soldiers at Fort Hood in Texas Are Dying at Alarming Rates Stateside
Violent Crime, Suicide, and Non Combat Death at Fort Hood, Texas (US Army)