Marine Corps Veteran Laurel Chasmar Shot to Death Outside New Jersey Home by Ex-Boyfriend Hassan Shahid in Apparent Murder-Suicide (2017)

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Laurel Chasmar, US Marine Corps Veteran

Marine Corps veteran Laurel Chasmar, 28, was shot and killed outside her Morris Plains, New Jersey home on August 5, 2017. Laurel was apparently in a relationship at one point with Hassan Shahid, 32, who is accused of her murder. Hassan Shahid of Jersey City was found with a self-inflicted gunshot wound in Morris township after he allegedly killed Laurel. According to reports, Laurel and Hassan worked together at one of the Novartis facilities in New Jersey and dated for a time but it appears Chasmar ended things and then complained to the police that he was harassing her.

Related Links
Man, Woman Found Dead In Possible Murder-Suicide In Morris County, Sources Say
Two dead identified in Morris Plains murder-suicide
Authorities identify pair killed in apparent murder-suicide
Marine gunned down by her ex-boyfriend outside NJ home, officials say
Mayor: Morris Plains murder victim dated, then complained of ‘harassment’ by shooter
Slain Morris Plains woman, a Marine Corps veteran, had made complaints against killer
Marine shot to death by ex-boyfriend tried to flee her killer, mayor says
Slain Morris Plains Woman Complained About Harassment By Shooter: Reports

Camp Pendleton Marine LCpl. Cody Haley Died After a Tree Fell on Him During Routine Physical Training in California, Under Investigation (2017)

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LCpl. Cody Haley, US Marine Corps

The 1st Marine Division announced in a news release Marine Lance Cpl. Cody Haley, 20, was doing routine physical training when he was struck and killed on August 4, 2017 by a falling tree at Camp Pendleton, California. LCpl. Haley was from Hardin, Iowa and deployed with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit in 2016. The Marine Corps report the incident is under investigation.

Related Links:
Camp Pendleton Marine killed when tree falls on him
Camp Pendleton Marine dies in tragic accident
Camp Pendleton Marine Killed by Falling Tree
Falling tree kills California-based Marine from Iowa
Camp Pendleton Marine killed in accident on base, officials say
Camp Pendleton Marine killed in accident on base
20-year-old Marine killed in apparent accident at Camp Pendleton
Marine killed by falling tree during training at Camp Pendleton
Mom of killed Iowa Marine: ‘I’ve been his biggest fan since he was in tee-ball’
Marines probing tree fall that killed serviceman during training at Camp Pendleton
Violent Crime, Non Combat Death, and Suicide at Camp Pendleton, California (US Marine Corps)

Bradley Stone, US Marine Corps Reserve Veteran, Methodically Killed His Wife & Five In-Laws in Pennsylvania, Then Two Days Later Killed Himself (2014)

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Bradley William Stone, USMC Reserve

On December 16, 2014, Bradley William Stone, a US Marine Corps veteran, killed his wife and five of his in-laws at three different locations throughout Montgomery County in Pennsylvania. After killing them he went on the run and it would be two days before he was found dead in the woods of an apparent suicide. He died from self inflicted knife wounds. The community breathed a sigh of relief after learning that he could no longer harm anyone else.

Patricia Flick, 36: An autopsy conducted found that she suffered gunshot wounds to her right forearm and to her face and a gaping “chop” wound to her head. The coroner determined the cause of death to be gunshot wounds to the arm and head.
Aaron Flick, 39: An autopsy found he suffered gunshot wounds to his right hand and his head and “chopping” wounds to his arm and his head, all of which caused his death.
Nina Flick, 14: An autopsy found she suffered 12 “chop” wounds to her head, which proved fatal, and one “chop” wound to the back of her neck.
Joanne Gilbert, 57: An autopsy found she suffered a gunshot wound to the face and her throat had been slashed; both wounds contributed to her death.
Patricia Hill, 75: An autopsy found she suffered a cutting wound to her left forearm and, the fatal wound, a gunshot wound near her right eye.
Nicole Hill Stone, 33: An autopsy found she suffered a gunshot wound to her hand and two gunshot wounds to her head. The coroner determined the cause of death was multiple gunshot wounds.

Related Links:
Bradley Stone: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know
Surviving family in shock after Bradley Stone killings
Pennsylvania Shooting Suspect Never Saw Combat, Says Marine Who Served with Him
Bradley Stone: Pennsylvania Shootings Suspect Was ‘Odd’ And ‘Out There’ Fellow Marine Recalls
Relative: Anthony Flick Speaking, Knows Nothing of Shootings
Search continues for accused mass killer Bradley Stone
Police in Pa. search for man suspected of killing ex-wife, 5 former in-laws
Manhunt for ‘Armed and Dangerous’ Suspect in Pennsylvania Shooting Spree
Manhunt for Shooting Spree Suspect Bradley Stone Intensifies in 2nd Day
Bradley Michael Stone at large after Pennsylvania shooting spree killed 6 people
Iraq war veteran suspected in 6 fatal Pennsylvania shootings still at large
Police: Stone found dead
‘Sense Of Relief’ In Pennsylvania As Manhunt Ends
Iraq Vet Who Killed Ex-Wife and Five In-Laws Is Found Dead
PA Shooter Reportedly Found Dead in Woods of Apparent Suicide
Bradley Stone brutalized his seven victims, poisoned himself, authorities reveal
DA: Montgomery County Murder Spree Victims Shot and Cut; Suspect Found Dead
Bradley Stone cleared by Veterans Affairs doctor one week before murders, suicide
Ex-military gunman committed suicide with a sword after he killed six family members and chopped three fingers off teenage boy who survived
Overdose Cited in Death of Man Who Killed 6 in Pennsylvania
Bradley Stone case: Ex-Marine’s suicide ends rampage, manhunt near Philadelphia
Sources: Pennsylvania Murder Spree Suspect Bradley Stone Killed Self with Sword
Pa. killings suspect found dead with self-inflicted knife wounds
Night Of “Horrific Tragedy”: Pennsylvania Rampage That Left 6 Family Members Dead
Suspected Pennsylvania killer of 6 found dead as schools close, security tightens
At vigil, Souderton community remembers mass killing victim Nina Flick
Memorial service held for Flick family

Army Sgt. Okan Cetinbag Found Dead at Home With Gunshot Wound to Face on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska; Mother Wants Answers (2014)

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Okan Murat Cetinbag, US Army

Sgt. Okan Cetinbag, 24, of Morton Grove, Illinois died on February 11, 2014 from gunshot injuries sustained on February 7th at his home on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska. Sgt. Cetinbag was an infantryman with Company B, 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment. He joined the Army in January 2013, attended basic and airborne training at Fort Benning, Georgia and arrived in Alaska in June 2013. He served with the U.S. Marine Corps, including a combat tour in Afghanistan in 2010, before joining the Army. The Army reported they were investigating the case but did not appear to be cooperating with the mother of Sgt. Cetinbag who has been questioning what happened to her son. Media reports indicate that Sgt. Cetinbag was one of four servicemen from JBER found dead this month: SrA Katrina Jackson on February 15; and SSgt. Darian Miller on February 18; and SSgt. Samuel Davis on February 23.

Related Links:
JBER soldier dies due to injuries
Soldier from Chicago area dies on base in Alaska
Army probes death of Alaska-based soldier
Army probes death of soldier at JBER
Army Probes Death Of Alaska-Based Soldier From Chicago Area
Soldier’s fatal injuries at JBER home being investigated
JBER Soldier’s Fatal Home Injuries Under Investigation
US Army Investigating Death of Morton Grove Soldier Sgt. Okan Murat Cetinbag
Army investigating mysterious death of soldier found unconscious at home just minutes after kissing his wife and daughter goodbye for a night out with his colleagues
‘There is a cover-up’: Mother of Army soldier who died after being shot in the face at home he shared with his wife and six other colleagues claims authorities are hiding something
Soldier’s death marks fourth JBER fatality in a month
JBER airman’s passing marks fourth death in February
Mother Says Army Is Covering Up How Her Son Was Killed


Sgt. Okan Cetinbag was shot in the face at his home on an Alaska Army base. There were six colleagues in the house that day, plus Okan’s wife and young daughter. His mother believes they know what happened and are not telling authorities. -WGN News

‘Bath Salts,’ ‘Spice’ and US Military: Are Service Members Abusing Synthetic Drugs? (2013)

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An undercover investigation for National Geographic explores the availability of powerful synthetic drugs, with names like “spice” and “bath salts,” and its popularity among members of the U.S. military. For the next installment of National Geographic’s “Inside: Secret America” series, which takes an in-depth look at how people can easily purchase synthetic drugs, investigative journalist Mariana van Zeller went undercover with a former Marine and a Marine on active duty in San Diego to local smoke shops as they purchased bath salts.

Read more here.

California Army National Guardsman Noah Pippin Disappeared in September 2010; Body Recovered in the Bob Marshall Wilderness in Montana (2012)

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Noah Pippin, US Marine Corps, California Army National Guard

On September 11, 2010, the California National Guard called the parents of Noah Pippin, 31, to ask where he was because he didn’t show up for military duty and that wasn’t like him. Nonetheless, Noah was listed as Absent Without Leave (AWOL). It was this phone call that would set off a series of events for the family of Noah Pippin who also knew that he wouldn’t normally shirk his responsibilities but they were concerned about him. Noah’s parents knew that he once served in the Marines and deployed to Iraq three times. To them, he seemed troubled, preoccupied and depressed the last time they saw him. They wondered if he committed suicide. The family began to trace his steps. Noah left Michigan on August 25, 2010 in a cab to go to the airport to get a rental car. In October 2010, the family remembered they had a picture of the cab and the number. They called the cab company and it was confirmed that Noah did go to airport and rented a car. Records indicate that Noah drove to Kalispell, Montana. The family questioned why Montana instead of California and wondered what happened to him.

At his family’s insistence, Noah visited with them for a week in Traverse, Michigan prior to his deployment with the National Guard to Afghanistan. Noah drove from California to Michigan with a U-haul full of his belongings so he could store them while he was deployed. He had abruptly quit his job 3 months earlier at the Los Angeles Police Department where he had been working for a year a half as a police officer. He decided the job was not working out so he left the position and volunteered to go back on active duty with the Army. Noah volunteered to go on a 13 month deployment to Afghanistan. Noah became a police officer after getting out of the US Marine Corps so when he became disillusioned about the job, he went back to what felt comfortable. Noah got rid of his apartment in California and then when he got to Michigan, he started giving away everything he owned. Noah’s parents questioned his decision to give away all his belongings and told him he could store some of his stuff in their basement. They also knew he deployed to Iraq 3 times and as a result of their observations asked him about his mental health. But he assured them he was okay.

Noah’s parents were already concerned about suicide and worried when Noah didn’t show up for his National Guard duty. They contacted police on September 24, 2010. Initially it appeared the police didn’t share their same concerns about Noah and even made assumptions about his AWOL status as if he was a malingerer. But after the family shared the information they had confirmed with the cab company, the police began to take notice. The police investigated and learned from cell phone records that Noah called a taxi in Hungry Horse but the taxi didn’t know where he went to. On August 31, 2010, all activity stopped on Noah’s cell phone. The family and police wondered if Noah stopped in Montana to do some hiking as a form of rest and relaxation before he was deployed. Credit card activity showed that Noah checked into a hotel on August 28, 2010 and stayed for two nights. Aside from credit card activity at local stores for supplies and a couple restaurants for meals, there was no more activity on his cell phone and credit card and it appears that Noah Pippin disappeared on August 31, 2010. Noah’s dad couldn’t help but wonder if he went to Montana to die. Where Noah went after he left the hotel in Hungry Horse remained a mystery for two years.

In December 2010, the family felt like Noah was probably was dead. His mom continued to send messages to his e-mail but he never responded. Then Noah’s brothers reminded their parents that some of Noah’s stuff was in the basement. The brothers suggested they go through his belongings to see if there were any clues to his disappearance. Noah’s parents admitted it was hard to go through his stuff but they began the process and found a notebook that contained detailed directions to a place called Blue lakes which was south of Glacier National Park in Montana. They also found a list of supplies one would take on a wilderness trek. It appeared that Noah planned on going to Glacier National Park but didn’t mention it to his family. After learning this information, they couldn’t help but assume Noah went there to clear his head. Now the concern was why didn’t he show up for military duty and why haven’t they heard from him. The hotel in Hungry Horse called a month later and informed the police they found some of Noah’s property in the lost and found. This property included cell phone and computer chargers but the cell phone and computer were not present. At this point police thought maybe Noah was a victim of robbery and foul play, maybe even a homicide victim.

The police needed an eye witness who may have seen Noah. In February 2011, the family shared developments in the case with the media while the police contacted the Forest Service. The police talked to people who occupied cabins in the area but no one had seen him. Some witnesses thought they saw Noah walking on the road but couldn’t confirm it was him. At this time, police had no more leads to follow and they all had to wait for the snow to melt before they could begin searching for him. In June 2012, Noah’s parents went to the Blue Lakes to look for him. They noted that they were pleased Noah’s last known location was in such a beautiful place. Eventually witnesses contacted the family to share that Noah showed up to their camping spot. They provided details that he talked about being in the military and deploying to Iraq, therefore he was positively identified. It appears that Noah followed through with his plans to hike to the Blue Lakes and then he headed to the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Noah’s parents were relieved to know he was alive two weeks after his cellphone activity stopped. But now it appears Noah deliberately didn’t go back to active duty with the National Guard. Shirking his responsibilities was not like Noah so why would he go AWOL?

It was September 15, 2010 when the witnesses ran into Noah while they were setting up their camp. They said it appeared that he only had a day pack which wasn’t the norm for someone so far back in the wilderness. Noah said he was going to hike along the Chinese Wall where there was no trail. The family offered Noah dinner and to put him up for the night but he declined and insisted on continuing on his hike. The next day, the weather pattern changed and the family sensed a snow storm was on the way so they left immediately and got caught in blizzard like conditions on the way out. The family thought if Noah got caught up in these conditions, it could be dangerous. A ranger also contacted the family and confirmed that he witnessed Noah sleeping on the trail on September 15, 2010 and it appeared he was heading towards the Chinese Wall. The ranger observed Noah wasn’t equipped for the trip too. Everyone acknowledged that a two day’s hike from civilization could be very dangerous in winter conditions. It was hard to anticipate what could happen in the mountains in blizzard like conditions and the outlook was bleak. Police began a recovery mission after learning this information and a helicopter search team looked for him in August 2011 but he was not spotted.  The inconclusive search gave the family hope but they wanted closure.

On August 24, 2012, Noah Pippin’s body was recovered and reports indicate that Noah died from exposure. Noah Pippin froze to death in the Bob Marshall Wilderness.

Related Links:
Missing Hiker Last Seen in Montana Backcountry
Missing Hiker: Bob Marshall Wilderness, MT
Why Noah Went to the Woods
Into the Woods: The Noah Pippin Case
Ex-Marine from Michigan missing since last year
Missing Marine story to air on cable Feb. 27
Did Noah Pippin Go AWOL? | Disappeared
A Soldier’s Story: Noah Pippin | Disappeared
Noah Pippin Investigation Continues
Human remains found in Montana wilderness believed to be missing Iraq war veteran who vanished two years ago
Search party finds body of Suttons Bay man missing in Montana wilderness since 2010
Lost son found
Missing Marine’s Remains Identified
New evidence found in Marine’s wilderness death
Missing Marine likely died of exposure during blizzard in Bob Marshall Wilderness
Former Suttons Bay High School Graduate’s Body Found in Montana After Two Year Search
Missing Iraq war veteran’s remains found in Bob Marshall Wilderness
The Disappearance of Noah Pippin – Part 1: Vanished Into Thin Air
The Disappearance of Noah Pippin – Part 2: Nothing Shall Be Impossible


In August 2010, 31-year-old ex-marine Noah Pippin left Michigan to report to the California National Guard. But Noah never shows up. Police trace his path to the forests of Montana, leaving Noah’s parents to wonder why he is venturing into the wild. -Investigation Discovery

College Student Brianna Denison Kidnapped, Raped and Strangled by a Former Marine in Reno, Nevada; James Biela Sentenced to Death (2008)

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Brianna Denison (Reno, Nevada)

Brianna Denison, 19, was abducted by former Marine James Biela in Reno, Nevada on January 20th, 2008. She was subsequently found raped and murdered. According to Joe Biela, James Biela once wore the uniform of a Marine but was kicked out of the service. James Biela was convicted of raping and strangling Brianna and sentenced to death in 2010. Brianna’s family fought for ‘Brianna’s Law’ in Nevada and it passed:

The bill mandates a DNA cheek-swab whenever a person is booked for a felony arrest. If the arrest is deemed legitimate, the DNA would be cross-referenced with DNA from other crime scenes to see if the arrestee was involved. The proposal is named after Brianna Denison who was raped and murdered by James Biela in Reno in 2008. Proponents believe such a law may have saved Denison because Biela had a prior felony arrest. –Fox 5 Vegas

Related Links:
Bring Bri Justice
Who is James Biela?
Reno Police Hunt for Serial Rapist
Biela had trouble with women, law
Details emerge about suspect in Brianna Denison murder
Police Arrest Suspect in Sex Assault Slaying of Reno Teen Brianna Denison
Pregnant Rape Victim Forgives James Biela In Court
James Biela’s Ex-Girlfriend Carleen Harmon Testifies in Murder Case of Brianna Denison
Lab Investigator Testifies About Denison Crime Scene in James Biela Trial
Nevada man convicted of raping, strangling college student
Serial Rapist Found Guilty of Rape and Murder of Nevada Coed
Brianna Denison Murder Verdict: James Biela Found Guilty of Killing, Raping College Student
Brianna Denison’s Murderer Gets Four Life Sentences for Sexual Assault, Kidnapping
Brianna Denison’s Killer, James Biela, Gets Death; Mom Says “He Messed With the Wrong Family”
Moms of murdered daughters push for Nevada DNA bill
Brianna’s Law officially becomes Nevada state law
Death row inmate seeks new trial in Brianna Denison killing
James Biela petitions court for retrial in rape, murder of 19-year-old Brianna Denison
Biela won’t get a new trial in Denison murder case
Reno man denied new trial in rape, murder near university


When a young college student is abducted from a friend’s home in the middle of the night, the city of Reno lives in fear of who might be next. Dogged investigation leads detectives to a serial rapist who’s just escalated to murder. -Unusual Suspects

Retired Marine Walter Smith Drowned Girlfriend Nicole Speirs in Bathtub and Blamed Post Traumatic Stress; Sentenced to 15 Years in Prison (2006)

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Nicole Speirs

In August 2004, hard working Walter Smith was managing a photoshop at a local department store in a town outside Salt Lake City, Utah. Walter met the future mother of his children Nicole Speirs on a social media site. Nicole was a tomboy, she was into skateboarding, adventure, and the two appeared to get along really well. They went out on a couple dates and spent the night together. But Walter was not sure how close he wanted to get because he had other things on his mind. He only recently returned home after a tour of duty in the Marine Corps. He joined the Marine Corps after high school and in early 2000, he was at boot camp in California. One of his Marine friends spoke highly of him and shared that one wanted to spend time with Walter because he was very interesting. Then September 11, 2001… Of course the Marines were deployed to Iraq and in February of 2003, Walter and and his team were some of the first on the ground during Operation Iraqi Freedom. This was war and the possibility of dying was something they had to accept after witnessing many of their own die around them.

In the summer of 2003 after six months in Iraq, Walter returned to Utah for a visit and then was sent to a marksman training course in Virginia. While on a rifle range, the sounds of munitions were giving Walter flashbacks and he thought he was shooting at people in Iraq. According to a comrade, something was triggered inside him and he just lost it. The was the beginning of his medical discharge. He was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and medically discharged from the USMC. One of Walter’s Marine friends shared that most begin to experience the PTSD after they get out but they don’t push the subject with one another. But everyone recognized that Walter was depressed; he wasn’t the same person he was when they met him. Walter met Nicole Speirs shortly after his military discharge. Although after a few dates and intense nights spent together, Walter retreated. In the meantime, Nicole called Walter to let him know that she was pregnant. He went to the first doctor visit with her and they found out together they were having twins.

Walter wasn’t sure he was ready to have a family. He also learned that his parents were getting a divorce after 25 years of marriage. It rocked the foundations of all of the siblings. Walter retreated completely after the doctor visit with Nicole and requested a DNA test to prove they were his children. Nicole had to accept Walter’s decision; she didn’t know that he was struggling with PTSD. Walter became quiet and withdrawn. Once harmless, the civilian world now had several threats everywhere after his return. Walter’s family couldn’t understand what he had been through. Walter’s comrades shared that he engaged in one of the most violent fights during the deployment in Iraq. They were hit with an RPG and three guys were hurt. The enemy was packing families in cars and driving right at them. Walter had no choice but to use the gun to stop the existing threat. They had a hard time witnessing the innocent children die. The Marines in Walter’s company were never the same.

Now that Walter was back in Utah, his depression was getting worse. He was downward spiraling. By September 2004, Walter’s dad moved in with him. The family was concerned for them because they both were feeling extremely depressed. Walter’s dad shared that his own father committed suicide when he was young because he felt that he was a burden to the family. On June 30, 2004, Walter reached a breaking point. His thoughts were more distorted. Walter Sr. didn’t know it but Walter was experiencing violent tendencies. He feared for his own father’s life. He left their home before he harmed his father and made a decision to kill himself with a shotgun. He called some family to say goodbye but before he could pull the trigger, a friend contacted the local police to intervene. As a result, Walter was admitted into a psychiatric ward. He was diagnosed with PTSD, severe depression with psychosis, and alcohol dependency. Meanwhile, Nicole was on bedrest with a difficult labor and gave birth a month earlier then expected.

Nicole’s babies were both underdeveloped and needed to remain in the NICU for over a month but they finally got the green light to take them home. Nicole had a girl and a boy. Walter never went to visit Nicole at the hospital. By the time the children were five years old, Nicole filed for child support. Meanwhile, Walter looked at Nicole’s pictures on social media and could tell that the children were his right away and wanted to see them. This time, he told her the truth about the PTSD. Walter met the children and things seemed really good. Nicole was a phenomenal mom and this appeared to help Walter cope better too because she was calm and caring. Nicole was really excited that Walter came back. But Walter still doesn’t feel the same way as Nicole and wasn’t sure that he ever would; he had his own demons to contend with. But, they were both trying to strengthen their relationship for the sake of the children.

On March 9, 2006, Nicole was feeling dizzy so she left work and went home to rest. Two weeks later on March 24, 2006, Nicole and Walter were up late after a relaxing evening together at home. They made love and got in the bathtub to get cleaned up. Nicole asked Walter what she thought about their future; she wanted to get married. Walter said he needed more time and wasn’t ready to make that decision. He knew that he wasn’t ready for that kind of commitment. She was upset about this but decided to play it out and see where things went. The next morning Walter and the children left at 5 am to visit his family. The rest of the grandchildren were going to be there for a group photo. Shortly after Walter arrived, he began arguing with a relative and acting erratically. The family eventually called the police on Walter because they were concerned about his behavior. Walter called Nicole and told her he was returning instead of spending the night with his family.

Walter entered through the garage around 1 a.m. like he usually did and put the children to bed. He went to the bathroom where he heard water running and found Nicole face down in the bathtub. She appeared to be dead. He called 911. He was rattled, couldn’t remember the address, he realized that she was dead and this appeared to deflate him. Walter was hesitant to do the CPR when asked by the 911 dispatcher but he did it and unfortunately it was too late. Nicole was gone. Police arrived to find Walter and Nicole’s dead body. The body had been in a cold tub which made the time of death difficult to determine. There was no clear sign of foul play. Walter was questioned and claimed that Nicole was taking an anti-depressant for depression. His demeanor striked investigators as guarded and numb. Walter was with his family so could corroborate his whereabouts. Walter made the dreadful phone calls to family members and loved ones but Nicole’s death didn’t make sense to any of them.

In the days after Nicole’s death, the police kept their eye on Walter Smith. They questioned neighbors who denied any knowledge of abuse or volatility in the relationship; as a matter of fact, neighbors observed that both appeared happy together. The Speirs family was concerned about when Nicole got sick and wondered if that had anything to do with it. And suicide was a theory that Walter planted until Nicole’s autopsy put an end to that. There were no drugs in her system but the manner of death was drowning; the cause of death was unknown. The big question was why and how did this happen? Walter and the Speirs family worked together to take care of the children over the next few months. But nothing could hold back the depression that Walter was fighting off. Sometimes he felt like the PTSD was going to break him.

On December 4, 2006, Walter drove himself to the Veterans Affairs hospital emergency room because he was feeling suicidal and homicidal. He called his Uncle Craig and told him he couldn’t live another day. After questioned by his uncle, Walter admitted that he had something to do with Nicole’s death. His Uncle Craig recommended he remain silent until he got there but Walter Smith already told the VA that he felt guilty about what happened to Nicole. The VA called the police department who showed up around the time that his uncle showed up. He was quiet initially but then told them he was responsible for Nicole’s death. It was not an accident; it was something more. He was arrested for suspicion of homicide and taken in custody. Walter Sr.’s heart was shattered and he was in absolute disbelief that his son could do something like this. Walter Sr. and Craig let Nicole Speir’s family know right away that Walter admitted to being responsible for Nicole’s death.

Two days later, detectives got a second crack at Walter. Walter explained that he was in the bathtub with Nicole. She was sitting towards the faucet with him behind her. She washed her hair and she had to bend forward to rinse it. He then pushed her head down in the water from the back until she drowned to death. He was emotionless, matter of fact, and flat when he talked about the crime. He admitted that they had not been arguing prior to the act. When asked, Walter said that Nicole did fight back to the best of her ability. The detectives did not believe PTSD was an excuse because he took advantage of her in the most vulnerable position. Investigators exclaimed that this was an intimate domestic violence encounter that could only be accomplished in that position of trust. Walter didn’t know why he did it; he couldn’t explain it to those who were questioning him. His reasoning for coming forward was because he wanted help; the crime had in fact eaten away at him. After his confession, Walter was charged with murder in the first degree. But the legal teams validated that PTSD is a legitimate mitigating factor to reduce a charge from murder to manslaughter.

The prosecution recognized and believed this murder probably would not have happened if not for PTSD. The Speirs family learned from the prosecution that there was a lack of physical evidence, that most likely a jury would be sympathetic to a war vet with PTSD, and that these factors could lead to a not guilty verdict. As a result, the family agreed to a plea deal and a sentence was negotiated; Walter Smith received 1 to 15 years in prison. The sentence automatically gave the Speir family custody of the two children. The family felt the sentence was weak but ultimately they wanted to protect the children. Detectives wanted the public to remember that this was still a homicide and the PTSD didn’t cause this. Walter began serving his sentence in the fall of 2007. Four years later, his family and the Speirs family attended his parole hearing; Walter wasn’t allowed to look at any of them. As he sat hunched and humbled, he was asked if there was anything he wanted to say. He was silent at first but then he finally said that he didn’t disagree with what the family wanted including spending all 15 years in prison because he deserved it. He also said he was truly sorry for what he did. Walter Smith’s parole was turned down and he will spend the entire fifteen years in prison.

Did the status as a Marine with PTSD shape the way this crime was handled?

Learn more: Complex Post Traumatic Stress and Dissociation in Military and Veteran Populations

The PTSD Defense:

  • Vet with PTSD dissociates, overreacts, self defense
  • Vet with PTSD dissociates, blames suicidal thoughts & pain, unravels
  • Vet who is violent criminal, doesn’t have PTSD, yet uses as defense
  • Vet who is violent criminal & has PTSD, yet would have committed crime regardless because violent criminal first (who happens to have PTSD)
  • How do we differentiate between dissociation & violent criminal activity?
  • When do we apply PTSD as a mitigating factor in homicide cases?
  • PTSD doesn’t cause crime, the propensity to harm is innate, can have both
  • Although manslaughter is lesser offense, it is still a homicide
  • Is it fair to use mitigating circumstances like PTSD, crime of passion, jealousy, etc. when the end result was murder? Impact on victim’s family.

Related Links:
Judge orders exhumation in Tooele murder probe
Woman’s body to be exhumed
Man Admits to Taking Part in Girlfriend’s Death 
Local Marine now accused killer
Man Accused of Murdering His Girlfriend Deemed Competent to Stand Trial 
Man Sentenced in Drowning Death of Girlfriend
Woman’s killer sentenced to prison
Man who drowned girlfriend sentenced to prison
Man Sentenced in Drowning Death of Girlfriend
Man who drowned girlfriend sentenced to prison
Ex-Marine gets up to 15 years for slaying girlfriend in tub
2006 slaying capped vet’s descent
Tooele woman’s parents want her killer to serve maximum sentence
An Iraq Veteran’s Descent; a Prosecutor’s Choice
Home from war, and traumatized Walter Smith killed a young mother, but was his treatment to blame?
The Case of Lance Cpl. Walter R. Smith
No parole for Utah Marine who drowned girlfriend
A New Theory of PTSD and Veterans: Moral Injury
Nicole Speirs murder 3/25/2006 Tooele, UT *Boyfriend Walter Smith charged with her murder*
Update: Nicole Speirs murder *Walter Smith convicted, sentenced to 1 – 15 years in prison*
Unraveled: Deadly Demons (Investigation Discovery)
Unraveled: Deadly Demons (ID GO)

“Walter Smith is a Marine Corps soldier just back from Iraq. Diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Walter finds comfort in the arms of young artist Nicole Speirs. But in the darkest recesses of the mind, their cruel fate is already decided.” -Discovery ID

August: U.S. Department of Defense Casualties Report (2005)

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08/31/2005:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Charles Rubado, 23, Iraq, Fort Carson, Colorado

08/31/2005:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Dennis Hay, 32, Iraq, Fort Carson, Colorado

08/30/2005:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Joseph Martinez, 21, Iraq, Fort Carson, Colorado

08/30/2005:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Obediah Kolath, 32, Iraq, Fort Bragg, North Carolina

08/29/2005:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Damion Campbell, 23, Afghanistan, Vicenza, Italy

08/27/2005:  DoD Identifies Army Casualties: Trevor Diesing, 30, and Ivica Jerak, 42, Iraq, Fort Bragg, North Carolina

08/27/2005:  DoD Identifies Army Casualties: Timothy Shea, 22, Iraq, Fort Benning, Georgia

08/26/2005:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Hatim Kathiria, 23, Iraq, Fort Stewart, Georgia

08/26/2005:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Chris Chapin, 39, Iraq, Vermont Army National Guard

08/24/2005:  DoD Identifies Army Casualties: Victoir Lieurance, 34, and Joseph Hunt, 27, Iraq, Tennessee Army National Guard

08/24/2005:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Carlos Diaz, 27, Iraq, Fort Benning, Georgia

08/23/2005:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Joseph Nurre, 22, Iraq, West Virginia Army Reserve

08/23/2005:  DoD Identifies Marine Casualty: Ramon Romero, 19, Iraq, Twentynine Palms, California

08/23/2005:  DoD Identifies Army Casualties: Elden Arcand, 22, and Brian Morris, 38, NCDs, Iraq, Fort Carson, Colorado

08/23/2005:  DoD Identifies Marine Casualty: James Cathey, 24, Iraq, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina

08/23/2005:  DoD Identifies Marine Casualty: Phillip George, 22, Iraq, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii

08/23/2005:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Willard Partridge, 35, Iraq, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington

08/23/2005:  DoD Identifies Army Casualties: Blake Hall, 20, Joshua Hyland, 31, Michael Lehmiller, 23, and Christopher Palmer, 22, Afghanistan, Vicenza, Italy

08/22/2005:  DoD Identifies Army Casualties: Nathan Bouchard, 24, Jeremy Doyle, 24, Ray Fuhrmann II, 28, and Timothy Seamans, 20, Iraq, Fort Stewart, Georgia

08/19/2005:  DoD Identifies Army Casualties: Laura Walker, 24, and Robert Davis, 23, Afghanistan, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington

08/19/2005:  Air Force Officer MIA From Vietnam War is Identified: Gregg Hartness

08/17/2005:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Michael Stokely, 23, Iraq, Georgia Army National Guard

08/16/2005:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Jose Ruiz, 28, Iraq, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington

08/16/2005:  DoD Identifies Army Casualties: Thomas Strickland, 27, Joshua Dingler, 19, and Paul Saylor, 21, NCDs, Iraq, Georgia Army National Guard

08/15/2005:  DoD Identifies Army Casualties: Asbury Hawn II, 35, Gary Reese Jr, 22, and Shannon Taylor, 30, Iraq, Tennessee Army National Guard

08/15/2005:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Toccara Green, 23, Iraq, Fort Drum, New York

08/15/2005:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Rusty Bell, 21, NCD, Iraq, Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia

08/15/2005:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Brian Derks, 21, Iraq, Fort Irwin, California

08/15/2005:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: David Giaimo, 24, Iraq, Fort Stewart, Georgia

08/15/2005:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Jeremy Chandler, 30, NCD, Afghanistan, Fort Bragg, North Carolina

08/12/2005:  DoD Identifies Army Casualties: Anthony Kalladeen, 26, and Hernando Rios, 29, Iraq, New York Army National Guard

08/12/2005:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Edward Heselton, 23, Afghanistan, South Carolina Army Reserve

08/12/2005:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Ryan Ostrom, 25, Iraq, Pennsylvania Army National Guard

08/12/2005:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Miguel Carrasquillo, 25, Iraq, Fort Stewart, Georgia

08/12/2005:  DoD Identifies Marine Casualty: Evenor Herrera, 22, Iraq, Camp Pendleton, California

08/11/2005:  DoD Identifies Army Casualties: Nathaniel Detample, 19, John Kulick, 35, Gennaro Pellegrini Jr, 31, and Francis Straub Jr, 24, Iraq, Pennsylvania Army National Guard

08/11/2005:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Christopher Katzenberger, 25, Afghanistan, Fort Bragg, North Carolina

08/11/2005:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Michael Benson, 40, Iraq, Fort Drum, New York

08/10/2005:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Christopher Falkel, 22, Afghanistan, Fort Bragg, North Carolina

08/10/2005:  Twelve MIAS from Vietnam War are Identified

08/10/2005:  DoD Identifies Marine Casualty: Ramon Gonzales Cordova, 30, Iraq, Camp Pendleton, California

08/09/2005:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Jonathon Haggin, 26, Iraq, Georgia Army National Guard

08/09/2005:  DoD Identifies Army Casualties: Brahim Jeffcoat, 25, and Kurt Krout, 43, Iraq, Pennsylvania Army National Guard

08/09/2005:  DoD Identifies Marine Casualty: Chase Comley, 21, Iraq, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina

08/08/2005:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Seferino Reyna, 20, Iraq, Fort Riley, Kansas

08/08/2005:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Robert Derenda, 42, NCD, Iraq, New York Army Reserve

08/08/2005:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Brett Walden, 40, NCD, Iraq, Fort Campbell, Kentucky

08/08/2005:  DoD Identifies Marine Casualty: Terry Ball Jr, 36, Iraq, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina

08/07/2005:  DoD Identifies Army Casualties: Damian Garza, 19, and John Henderson Jr, 21, NCD, Afghanistan, Fort Benning, Georgia

08/07/2005:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Nils Thompson, 19, Iraq, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington

08/06/2005:  DoD Identifies Marine Casualty: Theodore Clark Jr, 31, Afghanistan, Camp Pendleton, California

08/05/2005:  DoD Identifies Army Casualties: Victor Anderson, 39, David Jones Sr, 45, and Ronnie Shelley, 34, Iraq, Georgia Army National Guard

08/05/2005:  DoD Identifies Army Casualties: Victor Anderson, 39, Mathew Gibbs, 21, and Charles Warren, 36, Iraq, Georgia Army National Guard

08/05/2005:  DoD Identifies Marine Casualty: Chad Simon, 32, Iraq, Marine Forces Reserve, Wisconsin

08/05/2005:  DoD Identifies Marine Casualty: Christopher Dyer, 19, Iraq, Marine Forces Reserve, Ohio

08/05/2005:  DoD Identifies Marine Casualty: Adam Strain, 20, Iraq, Camp Pendleton, California

08/04/2005:  DoD Identifies Marine Casualty: Nicholas Bloem, 20, Iraq, Marine Forces Reserve, Montana 

08/04/2005:  DoD Identifies Marine Casualty: Bradley Harper, 25, Iraq, Marine Forces Reserve, Virginia 

08/04/2005:  DoD Identifies Marine Casualty: David Stewart, 24, Iraq, Marine Forces Reserve, Mississippi

08/04/2005:  DoD Identifies Marine Casualties: Timothy Bell Jr, 22, Eric Bernholtz, 23, Justin Hoffman, 27, and David Kreuter, 26, Iraq, Marine Forces Reserve, Ohio

08/04/2005:  DoD Identifies Navy Casualty: Thomas Hull, 41, NCD, Arabian Gulf, USS Princeton, San Diego, California

08/04/2005:  DoD Identifies Marine Casualty: Grant Fraser, 22, Iraq, Marine Forces Reserve, Alaska

08/04/2005:  DoD Identifies Marine Casualty: Kevin Waruinge, 22, Iraq, Marine Forces Reserve, Mississippi

08/04/2005:  DoD Identifies Marine Casualties: Michael Cifuentes, 25, Aaron Reed, 21, Edward Schroeder II, 23, and William Wightman, 22, Iraq, Marine Forces Reserve, Ohio

08/03/2005:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: James McNaughton, 27, Iraq, New York Army Reserve

08/03/2005:  DoD Identifies Marine Casualty: Roger Castleberry Jr, 26, Iraq, Marine Forces Reserve, Texas

08/03/2005:  DoD Identifies Marine Casualties: Jeffrey Boskovitch, 25, David Coullard, 32, Daniel Deyarmin Jr, 22, Brian Montgomery, 26, and Nathaniel Rock, 26, Iraq, Marine Forces Reserve, Ohio

08/02/2005:  DoD Identifies Marine Casualty: James Graham III, 25, Iraq, Marine Forces Reserve, Oklahoma

08/02/2005:  DoD Identifies Army Casualties: Adrian Butler, 28, and John Tollefson, 22, Iraq, Fort Hood, Texas

08/01/2005:  DoD Identifies Army Casualties: Jason Montefering, 27, Ernest Dallas Jr, 21, Milton Monzon, 21, and Ramon Villatoro Jr, 19, Iraq, Fort Carson, Colorado

08/01/2005:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Jason Scheuerman, 20, NCD, Iraq, Fort Benning, Georgia

08/01/2005:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Robert Swaney, 21, Iraq, Fort Carson, Colorado

08/01/2005:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: James Carroll, 23, Iraq, Tennessee Army National Guard

Related Links:
August: Department of Defense Casualties Report (2002)
August: Department of Defense Casualties Report (2003)
August: Department of Defense Casualties Report (2004)
August: Department of Defense Casualties Report (2006)
August: Department of Defense Casualties Report (2007)
August: Department of Defense Casualties Report (2008)
August: Department of Defense Casualties Report (2009)
August: Department of Defense Casualties Report (2010)
August: Department of Defense Casualties Report (2011)
August: Department of Defense Casualties Report (2012)
August: Department of Defense Casualties Report (2013)
August: Department of Defense Casualties Report (2014)
August: Department of Defense Casualties Report (2015)
August: Department of Defense Casualties Report (2016)
August: Department of Defense Casualties Report (2017)
Non Combat Deaths of Female Soldiers in the US 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)

Marine Veteran Jonathan Blackwell Killed by Girlfriend’s Jealous Ex in North Carolina, Stacey Webster Sentenced to 16 1/2 Years in Prison for 2nd Degree Murder (2004)

jonathan-blackwell

Jonathan Blackwell, US Marine Corps Veteran

Marine veteran Jonathan Blackwell of Reidsville, North Carolina went missing on October 7, 2004. Eight days later Jonathan’s car was found burned out in the countryside of North Carolina but no signs of Jonathan’s remains were discovered in the fiery wreckage. Jonathan Blackwell was a US Marine Corps veteran who served proudly in the first Gulf War and since his honorable discharge worked at a Goodyear Plant just across the North Carolina state line in Virginia. Early in the investigation police learned that Jonathan’s new girlfriend Viola was also dating her ex Stacey Webster. According to Viola, neither man was aware of the other and Viola pointed to Jonathan’s ex-girlfriend Patsy who also had a 10 month old child with Blackwell. Police ruled both women out and other leads were also dead ends so the missing persons case went cold for two years.

In December 2006, Walter Daldron was arrested and told police that he had information about the Jonathan Blackwell missing persons case. He told investigators that Jonathan’s body was located off Highway 29 and buried in a shallow grave under some old tires. Police located the body and an autopsy confirmed that the body was that of Jonathan Blackwell. Jonathan had evidence of blunt force trauma to the back of the head and his skull was cracked. Daldron also knew who did it. Daldron admitted that his best friend Stacey Webster murdered Jonathan Blackwell. It turns out that Jonathan was a victim of a love triangle with his new girlfriend Viola and her ex Stacey Webster, but he didn’t know it. Stacey knew about Jonathan because he stalked Viola and Jonathan for months until finally his obsession, jealousy and rage reached a boiling point. If he couldn’t have Viola, no one could have her. Webster initially denied committing the murder but after faced with the eye witness testimony from his best friend and the discovery of Jonathan’s body, he went silent.

On December 15, 2006, Stacey Webster was arrested for the first degree murder of Jonathan Blackwell. Investigators learned that Webster confronted Jonathan at his home. When Jonathan turned his back to Webster to go into his home and call police, Webster hit Jonathan in the back of the head with a rock and knocked him out. Webster then hit Jonathan’s head multiple times with a rock until he was dead. He put Jonathan’s body in his vehicle, cleaned up the crime scene, and then contacted his cousin to help him hide the body. Webster took Jonathan’s body to the countryside of North Carolina off Highway 29 and covered Jonathan’s body with lyme before he buried him in a shallow grave in an attempt to hide evidence but inadvertently helped preserve Jonathan’s body instead. On September 24, 2010, Stacey Webster was arraigned for Jonathan Blackwell’s murder. Webster accepted a plea deal and plead guilty to second degree murder. Stacey Webster was sentenced to 16 1/2 years in prison. Stacey was an unusual suspect because he was a successful business man with no criminal history. Webster showed no remorse for his crimes.

Related Links:
One Year Later: Jonathan Blackwell Still Missing
Murder case sends deputies into the water
How ‘Bugs of Death’ May Help Solve Murders
Bugs of Death May Help Solve Murder Cases
Unusual Suspects: When Evil Strikes (YouTube)
Unusual Suspects: When Evil Strikes (Amazon Video)


In 2004, a former marine goes missing from his North Carolina home. Investigators sift through a mountain of tips and small-town rumors before a surprise witness comes forward who may hold the key to the mysterious disappearance. -Discovery ID