30 Domestic Abuse Cases in the Military That Ended in the Murder of Female Partners (2017)


Graphic Courtesy of Futures Without Violence (2017)

  1. Air Force MSgt William Lipscomb Murdered his Wife Kathleen After She Threatened to Expose his WAPS Promotion Cheating Scam (1986)
  2. Joseph Snodgrass, US Air Force, Hired Hitmen to Murder Wife Julie at Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines for the $400,000 Life Insurance Payout (1991)
  3. Phonthip Ott Discovered Dead in California River; Spouse Dennis Ott, US Coast Guard, Convicted of Murder and Sentenced to Life in Prison (1992)
  4. Fort Carson Army Soldier Michael Pelkey Convicted by Military Court Martial of Murdering Wife Diane; Sentenced to Life in Prison (1993)
  5. Sgt. Bill Coffin Murdered Ex-Fiancee After Civilian Courts Issued Protective Order, Judge Alleges Army Routinely Ignores Court Orders (1997)
  6. Fort Bliss Army Commander Captain Lynn Reister Murdered by Enlisted Husband Roger and His Brother Rodney for the Servicemen’s Group Life Insurance (2001)
  7. Retired Army Soldier Andrea Floyd Killed by Army Husband Brandon Floyd in Murder-Suicide at Fort Bragg (2002)
  8. Air Force SSgt Shelby Orelup Murdered by an Airman She Dated Briefly, SSgt Phillip Arindain Sentenced to Life in Prison (2003)
  9. US Army Soldiers Jeremy Meyers & Christopher Baber Found Guilty of Murdering Jeremy’s Wife Jessica for the Life Insurance Policy (2003)
  10. Fort Hood Army Sgt William Edwards Killed Estranged Wife Sgt Erin Edwards at Home in Killeen, Then Killed Self in Apartment Complex Parking Lot Across Street (2004)
  11. Sgt 1st Class Donald Gower, US Army, Conspired & Offered to Pay Others to Murder his Estranged Wife Hidi Gower for the Life Insurance (2007)
  12. Army Staff Sgt Paul Norris Shot Spc Kamisha Block Five Times in Iraq, Then Killed Self (2007)
  13. US Navy Sailor Genesia Gresham Shot and Killed in Bahrain by Clarence Jackson (2007)
  14. Fort Bragg Army Soldier Edgar Patino Murdered Army Specialist Megan Touma & Unborn Son After Argument, Sentenced to 16-20 Years in Prison (2008)
  15. Fort Bragg Army Nurse Lt Holley Wimunc Murdered by Marine Husband the Day After She Announced Divorce, John Wimunc Sentenced to Life in Prison (2008)
  16. Army Sergeant Christina Smith Murdered by Army Husband Richard Smith & Accomplice Matthew Kvapil, Both Fort Bragg Soldiers Sentenced to Life in Prison (2008)
  17. Ashley Barnes, US Army, Murdered by Soldier Husband Shortly Before Filing for Divorce, Khaleefa Lambert Sentenced to Life in Prison (2009)
  18. Travis McGraw, US Air Force Reserve, Murdered his Wife Vanessa for the $100,000 Military Life Insurance Policy (2011)
  19. Army Spouse Katherine Morris Found Dead in Car Near Mall; Cause of Death Initially Ruled Suicide But Further Investigation Suggests Homicide Motivated by Insurance Fraud (2012)
  20. Robert Chiaravalotti, US Army, Sentenced to Life Without Parole by Military Judge After Killing Wife & Raping Step Daughter (2012)
  21. Miranda Nichols, US Army, Shot & Killed by Army Boyfriend Samuel Tellu in an Apparent Domestic Dispute, Tellu Found Dead in Vehicle (2012)
  22. US Army Soldier Kimberly Walker Murdered in Colorado Hotel Room by her Boyfriend Army Soldier Montrell Mayo After Valentine’s Day Quarrel (2013)
  23. Evidence Reveals Army Reserve Recruiter Adam Arndt Murdered High School Student Michelle Miller & Then Killed Self, Army Investigators Claim Double Suicide (2013)
  24. Danielle Nemetz was Shot and Killed; Army Soldier and Spouse Skylar Nemetz Convicted of Manslaughter and Sentenced to 13 Years in Prison (2014)
  25. Army Sgt Michael Walker Allegedly Conspired to Murder Wife with Prostitute for Insurance Money; Awaiting Murder Trial in Hawaii Civilian Court (2014)
  26. Fort Meade Soldier Caleb Barnes, US Army, Plead Guilty to First Degree Murder of Cheryl Silvonek; Sentenced to Life in Maryland Prison (2015)
  27. Army Pfc Karlyn Ramirez Found Shot to Death in Home, Army Veteran Dolores Delgado Plead Guilty & Army Sgt Maliek Kearney Awaiting Trial (2015)
  28. Reward Offered for Armed and Dangerous Fugitive: Army Recruiter John Blauvelt Wanted for Allegedly Murdering Estranged Wife in South Carolina (2016)
  29. Fort Bragg Army Soldier Iris Armstrong Found Murdered in Home; Accused Spouse Jason Armstrong Found Dead After Intense Manhunt & Police Stand-Off (2016)
  30. Fort Campbell Army Pfc. Shadow McClaine Reported Missing 9/2; Army Soldier Charles Robinson Pleaded Guilty, Estranged Husband Jamal Williams-McCray Awaiting Murder Trial (2016)

Related Links:
Racial and Ethnic Differences in Homicides of Adult Women and the Role of Intimate Partner Violence — United States, 2003–2014
CDC: Half Of All Female Homicide Victims Are Killed By Intimate Partners
Vast Majority of Female Murder Victims Killed by Partners: New CDC Report

Fort Carson Army Soldier Michael Pelkey Convicted by Military Court Martial of Murdering Wife Diane; Sentenced to Life in Prison (1993)

When the severed head of a wife and mother is found, Lt. Joe Kenda uses forensics and interrogation to find both her body and her killer. Then… a young man’s murder looks like a robbery gone wrong until Kenda learns the odd reason he’s living there. -Homicide Hunter

On October 16, 1993, a mother was home with her son cooking supper. She went outside to call her dog Shadow to return home. When the dog returned, he had something large in his mouth. Danielle and her son realized that the dog had a human skull in it’s mouth. Lt. Joe Kenda of the Colorado Spring Police Department was grocery shopping when he got the call. He left his grocery shopping cart as is and headed to the scene. When Kenda arrived on the scene, the medical examiner was observing the skull. The medical examiner observed another animal got to the skull before the dog did and the time of death was within the last couple of weeks. The skull appeared to be a female with no obvious signs of bullet wounds or trauma. But they didn’t have the rest of the body to determine the official cause of death. Lt. Joe Kenda decided to start with the missing persons reports first.

Kenda also wanted to find the rest of the remains. Unfortunately, it was dark outside so they decided to resume the search the next day in during the daylight hours. The police used cadaver dogs to find the rest of the body. Cadaver dogs are trained to notify their handler when they make a hit. Kenda knew this would be a daunting task because El Paso County is the size of Rhode Island. An hour into the search, the K9 officer got a hit. They found a few more human bones; some still had flesh attached and some had teeth marks on them. Kenda theorized maybe she was a hiker out for a walk one day and got attacked by a bear. Now Joe Kenda needed to identify the dead female. They used dental records to determine if the dead woman’s teeth matched any dental records on file. On the third missing woman’s dental records, they finally found a match. Diane Pelkey, 36, was reported missing one week prior by her husband Michael Pelkey.

Michael Pelkey paid for a full page ad in the newspaper looking for Diane Pelkey. Police learned Michael was a 16 year veteran in the US Army and lived off post in Colorado Springs with his wife. Kenda now had the unfortunate task of informing Michael Pelkey of his wife’s death. He told him positive identification was made through dental records. Michael Pelkey was overcome with grief. They had been together for over 15 years. They had a son and she was four months pregnant.  Michael claims the last time he saw Diane they were out at dinner and then got in an argument. He said she walked away from him and he had not seen her since. Kenda deduced she would have had to walk ten miles to get home. Kenda decided she was not killed by a bear, she was killed by a human. They didn’t know if maybe someone picked her up hitchhiking and killed her. Michael Pelkey claimed he didn’t look for his wife because he had to go home and take care of their five year old son.

As Kenda was reviewing the missing persons report for Diane Pelkey, he noticed one of the officers put JDLR (Just Doesn’t Look Right) on the bottom of the report. This is usually done when an officer feels something isn’t right or the person making the report was suspicious. Kenda spoke with the officer who took the report. They both decided the missing persons report was suspicious because Michael didn’t say anything about their child, Diane’s pregnancy, or that they got in an argument that same night. Kenda explained that usually if someone thinks something happen to a loved one, they won’t leave him alone. Kenda ran Michael Pelkey’s name through the data base and found there was a history of domestic violence, restraining orders in the past, and the couple had filed for a divorce. Kenda believed Michael Pelkey may have killed his wife but he wasn’t sure he had the authority to pursue the case.

Diane Pelkey’s remains were found in El Paso County, Colorado so the case may be out of Kenda’s jurisdiction. He pressed the sheriff’s office to put the squeeze on Michael Pelkey. They brought him into the sheriff’s department and started questioning him. They presented all the evidence they had to Pelkey and he became overwhelmed. Michael broke during the interrogation and admitted to killing his wife on October 8, 1993. He claimed they were in the car and he wanted to do some fishing. They started arguing; he accused her of being unfaithful, she accused him of being unfaithful. He said she wanted out of the vehicle to get some space from him and that didn’t sit well with him. Michael claims he snapped and started strangling Diane. Michael tried to claim that it was an accident. Kenda thought this was not an accident because it takes two to three minutes to strangle someone to death.

Michael Pelkey then told detectives he panicked after strangling Diane and decided to drive to a rural area in the Rocky Mountain foothills to dispose of her body. He put a seatbelt on her and drove as if she was simply a passenger in his car. He drove to a ravine near the highway and left her in an area where he didn’t think anyone would find her. Afterwards, he filed a missing persons report and took out an ad in the local paper to deflect suspicion from himself. Michael Pelkey probably thought he would get away with murdering her wife. But his plan unraveled and he was arrested for murder. The District Attorney allowed the Fort Carson Army leadership to court martial him despite the fact that the crime occurred in El Paso County. Michael Pelkey was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to life. He is serving his sentence at Fort Leavenworth, a military penitentiary in Kansas.

You are held to a higher standard in the United States military. You will not behave in this way and if you do, you will be one sorry son of a bitch. Sgt. Pelkey found that out the hard way. -Lt. Joe Kenda

Related Links:
Obituary: Diane Lee Armendariz Pelkey
Military Convicts Do Time But Also Draw Paychecks
United States v. Michael Pelkey, US Army (1997)