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

August: U.S. Department of Defense Casualties Report (August 31, 2013)

Department of Defense

08/30/2013:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Michael Ollis, 24, Afghanistan, Fort Drum, New York

08/29/2013:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Ricardo Young, 34, Afghanistan, Fort Bragg, North Carolina

08/29/2013:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Jason Togi, 24, Afghanistan, Fort Hood, Texas

08/25/2013:  DOD Identifies Army Casualties: Kenneth Alvarez, 23, and Jonathon Hostetter, 20, Afghanistan, White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico

08/21/2013:  DOD Identifies Army Casualty: George Bannar Jr, 37, Afghanistan, Fort Bragg, North Carolina

08/20/2013:  DOD Identifies Army Casualty: Timothy Santos Jr, 29, NCD, Kuwait, Fort Bliss, Texas

08/12/2013:  DOD Identifies Army Casualties: Octavio Herrera, 26, Jamar Hicks, 22, and Keith Grace Jr, 26, Afghanistan, Fort Campbell, Kentucky

08/09/2013:  Marine Missing from Korean War Identified: Pfc. Jonathan R. Posey Jr.

08/07/2013:  DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Nickolas Welch, 26, Afghanistan, Fort Stewart, Georgia

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 (2005)
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 (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)

Sgt Carlos Gill, US Army, Died of a Non Combat-Related Illness, Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan (2010)

gill_carlos_e_lg

Sgt Carlos Gill, US Army

Sgt Carlos Gill, 25, US Army, died of a non combat related illness at Walter Reed Army Medical Center on January 26, 2010 after being evacuated from Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan. Sgt. Gill was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom on behalf of the 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division in Fort Lewis, Washington.

Related Links:
DOD Identifies Army Casualty
Army Sgt. Carlos E. Gill
Gadsden man’s son dies after evacuation from Afghanistan
Remembering three soldiers who served in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Vietnam

Air Force TSgt Jackie Larsen Died of a Non Combat Related Illness Supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom at Balad Air Base in Iraq (July 17, 2008)

Jackie Larsen

TSgt. Jackie Larsen, US Air Force

Air Force TSgt. Jackie Larsen, 37, of Tacoma, Washington, died of natural causes on July 17, 2008 at Balad Air Base in Iraq.  She was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom on behalf of the 9th Reconnaissance Wing, Beale Air Force Base in California.

Larsen died of non-combat-related medical causes, a Beale spokesman said, but the exact cause of death is not being released. –Military Times

Related Links:
DoD Identifies Air Force Casualty
Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jackie L. Larsen
Air Force sergeant dies in Baghdad
Beale loses Airman to natural causes in Iraq
Servicemembers mourn loss of one of their own
A Tribute to Technical Sergeant Jackie L. Larsen (US Air Force)
Honoring Technical Sergeant Jackie Larsen
Time of Remembrance: TSgt. Jackie Larsen
“I love you, I love you. I’ll call you tomorrow.”
U.S. military deaths in Iraq war at 4,124
Non-Combat Casualties in Iraq in July Exceeded Combat Casualties
Gov. Issues Statements On Deaths of Military Personnel
List of Washington’s Iraq War dead
100 female U.S. service members have died in Iraq
Noonie Fortin: Killed in Iraq or in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom
Non Combat Deaths of Female Soldiers in the US Military (Iraq)

Fort Hood Army Spc. Christine Ndururi Died of Non Combat Related Illness at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait (November 6, 2007)

Christine Ndururi

Spc. Christine Ndururi, U.S. Army

Army Spc. Christine Ndururi, 21, died from a non combat related illness at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait on November 6, 2007. Spc. Ndururi was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom on behalf of the 4th Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Fort Hood, Texas. At the time of the press release, the Department of Defense announced that Christine’s death was under investigation.

“She has not been sick,” Ndururi’s father, Wilson Wachira, 45, said yesterday at the family’s home.  “I’m waiting for them to tell me what happened. She was not ill, unless she was ill after 9 o’clock when she talked to her mother. Before she was deployed there, she had to have a medical checkup.” ~Eagle Tribune

Related Links:
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Army Spc. Christine M. Ndururi
Obituary: Christine Ndururi, Dracut, Massachusetts
Dracut soldier’s body due to return home today
Daughter dies, family looks for answers
Fort Hood Soldier’s Death Under Investigation
‘She did not die in vain’
Autopsy of female soldier baffles her Dracut father
“Fallen but not forgotten: deadliest year”
Massachusetts Fallen Heroes: Christine M. Ndururi
Non Combat Deaths of Female Soldiers in the US Military (Other Areas)

Fort Hood Army Soldier Pfc. Melissa Hobart Collapsed and Died from an Undetermined Cause While on Guard Duty in Baghdad, Iraq (June 6, 2004)

Melissa Hobart

Pfc. Melissa Hobart, US Army

Army Pfc. Melissa Hobart, 22, died after collapsing on guard duty in Baghdad, Iraq on June 6, 2004. Pfc. Hobart was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) on behalf of the Company E, 215th Forward Support Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division in Fort Hood, Texas. At the time of the Department of Defense press release, the incident was under investigation. Pfc. Hobart left behind a three-year-old daughter. According to Melissa’s memorial site, military officials believe Melissa suffered from a heart attack. Melissa’s mom Connie Hobart told the Hartford Courant that she was put on an anti-depressant shortly before deploying to Iraq and was still feeling depressed. Connie reported in 2006 that the official word from the military, two years later, was that she died of an undetermined cause.

Connie Hobart’s 22-year-old daughter, Army Pfc. Melissa Hobart, was put on an anti-depressant shortly before deploying and had told her mother that she remained depressed while in Baghdad. Three months into her tour, in June 2004, the East Haven native collapsed and died of a still-undetermined cause. Told of the policy changes Monday, Connie Hobart said, “I’m happy to hear about it. That’s good news.” Sobbing, she said her daughter might be alive today if the policy had been different at the time. –Hartford Courant

Related Links:
Pfc. Melissa Jennifer Hobart (1981-2004)
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Pfc. Melissa Hobart | Hartford Courant
Army Pfc. Melissa J. Hobart | Honor the Fallen
Pfc. Melissa J. Hobart | The Washington Post
Mentally Unfit, Forced To Fight — (The Hartford Courant)
Is There an Army Cover Up of Rape and Murder of Women Soldiers?
Violent Crime, Suicide, and Non Combat Death at Fort Hood, Texas (US Army)
Non Combat Deaths of Female Soldiers in the US Military (Iraq)