10 Unsolved Military Cases


Darlene Krashoc, U.S. Army

UPDATE: Army Spc. Darlene Krashoc Sexually Assaulted, Murdered, and Dumped in Parking Lot in Colorado Springs; DNA Match Leads to Arrest of Michael Whyte (March 17, 1987)

Gordon Hess

Captain Gordon Hess, U.S. Army

Army Captain Gordon Hess Found Stabbed to Death at Fort Knox in Kentucky, Military Investigators Ruled Suicide Despite the 26 Stab Wounds to Neck & Chest Area (1998)


Col. Philip Shue, U.S. Air Force

Air Force Col. Philip Shue Died in an Apparent Car Accident, But Autopsy Revealed Much More; Texas Judge Ruled Cause of Death as Homicide (2003)

LaVena Johnson

Pfc. LaVena Johnson, U.S. Army

Army Pfc LaVena Johnson Died of Non Combat Related Injuries in Iraq, Death Ruled Suicide But Independent Autopsy Revealed Rape & Murder (2005)

Nonnie Dotson

Nonnie Dotson, U.S. Air Force

Lackland Air Force Base Nurse Nonnie Dotson Mysteriously Disappeared, Last Seen November 19th, 2006 in Littleton, Colorado While on Leave

blanca Luna

SrA Blanca Luna, U.S. Air Force

Cold Case: Air Force Reservist SrA Blanca Luna Discovered Stabbed to Death in Base Lodging at Sheppard AFB in Texas (2008)


SSG Anton Phillips, U.S. Army

Army SSG Anton Phillips Found Stabbed to Death at FOB Mehtar Lam, Afghanistan; CID Offering $25,000 Reward for Information (2009)


Katherine Morris, U.S. Army Spouse

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)


Sean Wells, U.S. Army

Fort Bragg Army Soldier Sean Wells Gunned Down in Home by Two Masked Men in Fayetteville, Family Asks for Help Solving Case (2013)

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Pvt. Justin Lewis, U.S. Army

Unsolved Homicide: Fort Hood Army Pvt. Justin Lewis Shot & Killed Near Vacant Lot in Neighborhood in Killeen, Texas (2017)



Andrew Muns, U.S. Navy

Michael LeBrun Plead Guilty to Strangling Andrew Muns on the USS Cacapon After Caught Stealing $8,600 from Navy Ship’s Safe, NCIS Cold Case Squad Solves Case (1968)


Lt Verle ‘Lee’ Hartley, U.S. Navy

Lt Verle Lee Hartley, US Navy, Died of Arsenic Poisoning in 1982, NCIS Cold Case Squad Solved Murder 13 Years Later, Wife Pamela Plead Guilty (1982)

Related Links:
Our View: ‘Cold Case’ crimes are worth investigators’ effort
Military Policy and Legislation Considerations for the Investigations of Non Combat Death, Homicide, and Suicide of US Service Members
A List of Soldiers Targeted & Murdered for the Servicemen’s Group Life Insurance Benefits (SGLI)
Investigators Persisted When Army Soldier Kelli Bordeaux Disappeared in North Carolina, Convicted Sex Offender Nicholas Holbert Sentenced to Life in Prison for Murder (2012)

Cold Case: Air Force Reservist SrA Blanca Luna Discovered Stabbed to Death in Base Lodging at Sheppard AFB in Texas (2008)

SrA Blanca Luna, US Air Force (2008)

SrA Blanca Luna, US Air Force Reserve

On March 7, 2008, SrA Blanca A. Luna, 27, US Air Force Reserve, was found unresponsive and with injuries consistent with a stab wound in her billeting room at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas three days prior to graduating and heading back home. She was discovered with a knife in the back of her neck according to the death certificate and no pants or underwear and dried fluid near her groin according to the autopsy. She was taken to a local hospital in Wichita Falls where she died shortly thereafter. She was an Air Force Reservist on temporary duty at Sheppard AFB attending a technical training course for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC).  She was a Marine from 1997 to 2002 and then became a Reservist in 2007 at the 434rd Civil Engineer Squadron, Grissom Air Reserve Base in Indiana. She loved the military. She was living in the Chicago, Illinois area and studying Graphic Design.

Because this death occurred on a federal installation, the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) was the lead on the investigation. They initially labeled the death a “suspicious incident”. According to AFOSI, the FBI assisted with the investigation. The FBI processed the crime scene and collaborated with the ensuing Air Force investigation. The AFOSI referred to the death as a homicide in the media in the early stages of the investigation. Six months later they would be accused of leading the family to believe it was a suicide despite evidence suggesting otherwise. Six months after her death, no official determination was made as to the manner of death: homicide, suicide, or accident. Eventually, the family learned from the autopsy report that the official manner of death was considered “undetermined”. No suspects were ever identified.

“AFOSI has been the lead investigative agency since Airman Luna’s death. At AFOSI’s request, the FBI sent an evidence response team to process the scene immediately after Airman Luna was found, and the two agencies have continued to cooperate in the investigation. Agents have been assigned to the case on a full-time basis, and more than 350 interviews have been conducted at locations across the country. Findings have been reviewed by a diverse team of experts, including specialists in forensics, polygraph, computer investigation, behavioral psychology and forensic pathology…More than 200 DNA tests have been done.”

Two of Blanca’s friends who had visited her at the base noted that she had talked about problems with some airman in her classes. She felt that they resented her because of her rank and the fact that she was a woman in a leadership position. When Blanca’s body arrived in Chicago, the family observed bruises on Blanca’s face as if she had been punched or had fallen and scratches between her fingers that appeared to be defensive wounds. Luna’s family insists that she would never commit suicide and that the evidence does not support that suggestion. In October 2008, Gloria Barrios traveled to Texas from Chicago to get some answers, including the autopsy report, from the Air Force but she didn’t get anything except a tour of the base. Gloria had questions about the bruises, defensive wounds, and the fluid found near Blanca’s groin but never received any answers. Blanca’s mom feels that this is a cover-up.

The family believes that AFOSI did not investigate the crime with due diligence and was trying to lead them to believe Blanca committed suicide. They initially determined that it was a homicide and investigated it as a crime. This is problematic because instead of listing the death as an unsolved murder or cold case, it can be written off as a suicide and never investigated again. After Gloria’s visit to Sheppard AFB, the Air Force released a statement that said “deaths are investigated as homicides initially, but that nothing suggests that anyone on base is in danger.” This statement is troublesome because the murder occurred within the confines of a secure military base. One cannot get onto the base without military identification. It had to be someone affiliated with the base that either lives and/or works there. The Air Force cannot guarantee the base’s safety when they do not even know who committed the crime. Blanca’s mom wants answers from military officials, and she wants them to classify Luna’s death as a homicide and find the culprit. Was the DNA collected at the scene compared to the national DNA database (CODIS)? Five years later, still with no answers, Gloria Barrios was battling depression and hospitalized. Eight years later, the case is still considered “under investigation” and highlights the need for cold case squads in the military.

“My gut feeling is they are looking for a culprit outside of the base, but the murderer is on the base. They’re looking in the wrong place…I can’t express what I feel about these people. They’re [Air Force] treating me like dirt. They are driving me crazy. It’s like they’re playing with my mind, giving me bad information.” -Gloria Barrios (Blanca’s mom)

The incident is under investigation by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations and the Sheppard AFB security forces squadron. Anyone with information regarding the case should call Sheppard Air Force Base security forces at (940) 676-2981 [or Sheppard AFOSI at (940) 676-1852].

Related Links:
Air Force identifies deceased Airman
Air Force Identifies Murdered Reservist
‘Suspicious’ death: Student airman with stab wound dies in hospital
Texas Air Force Reservist Found Stabbed to Death in Hotel
Indiana Air Force reservist found fatally stabbed in Texas
Indiana Airman found dead at base in Texas
Grissom Airman found dead in Texas
Military probes reservist’s slaying
Murder on the Base?
OSI continues to investigate March 7 death
Airman’s Mom Seeks Truth About Death
Mother of Murdered Female Airman To Request Meeting on Oct. 3 with Sheppard Air Force Base officials on Status of Investigation
Blanca Luna’s mother went to Texas but learned nothing about her daughter’s death on an air force base
Dead airman’s family unhappy about lack of progress in case
Family suspects cover-up in airman’s death on base
The Murder of Military Women Continues
Our Town: Gloria Barrios
Justice for Blanca Luna
5th Anniversary of Unsolved Murder on Sheppard Air Force Base
Find a Grave: Blanca Adriana Luna (1980 – 2008)

Air Force SSgt Shelby Orelup Murdered by an Airman She Dated Briefly, SSgt Phillip Arindain Sentenced to Life in Prison (2003)

Honoring SSgt Shelby Orelup @USAirForce (2003)

Shelby Orelup, US Air Force

On February 28, 2003, SSgt Shelby Dawn Orelup, US Air Force, 22, was found dead in a drainage ditch on the Access Road at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas. She was beaten, sodomized and raped before she was strangled according to an autopsy report. Investigators believe that she was murdered at a different location and her body was dumped near the base. Orelup was a mother to a two year old and a fuels instructor with the 366th Training Squadron at the base. She wanted to go to law school and become an attorney. Orelup formed a relationship with SSgt Phillip Arindain at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England in 2002. Although they were at different bases stateside stationed six hours apart, they maintained a long distance relationship. Arindain was stationed at Cannon Air Force Base in New Mexico. He was married with one child. Shelby’s family felt like he was nice at first but he started to become possessive and controlling of Shelby. She broke things off with him a few months later.

The FBI, Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI), and the Wichita Police Department worked on the investigation. Investigators learned that two weeks before Arindain murdered Shelby she asked him to watch her daughter and he brought her daughter back on February 27th. They also learned the motive was Arindain suspected she was seeing someone. In August 2003, SSgt Arindain was arrested and charged with Shelby’s murder. He was held at the Wichita County Jail because Sheppard AFB does not have a detention facility. He was charged under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and the Air Force stated they were not going to seek the death penalty. In 2004, Arindain was convicted of unpremeditated murder in a general courts martial at Sheppard AFB. He was found innocent on the charges of felony murder, rape and forcible sodomy. He received a life sentence with the possibility of parole and was dishonorably discharged from the Air Force. Judge, Colonel Mary Boone said that it is unclear when Arindain will eligible for parole.

“Shelby lived her life at 110 percent. She gave 110 percent to the military, she gave 110 percent to her family and friends and to her daughter, Orelup said. I feel that just punishment for him would have been life without parole because he needed to give 110 percent for killing her.” -Shirley Orelup (Shelby’s Mom)

Related Links:
Arrest made in death of city woman
New Mexico airman charged in death near Wichita Falls base
Cannon airman guilty of killing
Cannon airman convicted in girlfriend’s death
Ex-Air Force Man Gets Life in Murder
Former airman gets life for slaying
Airman sentenced to life in prison for murder
‘Suspicious’ death: Student airman with stab wound dies in hospital (2008)

Air Force TSgt Thomas Bunday Died By Suicide in Texas on Day of Arrest; Bunday Confessed to 5 Murders Near Eielson AFB, Alaska (March 15, 1983)

Thomas Bunday.jpg

TSgt Thomas Richard Bunday, U.S. Air Force (photo: Investigation Discovery)

Honoring the victims:

  1. Glinda Sodemann, 19, Fairbanks, Alaska (August 29, 1979)
  2. Doris Oehring, 11, North Pole, Alaska (June 13, 1980)
  3. Marlene Peters, 21, Tanana, Alaska (January 31, 1981)
  4. Wendy Wilson, 16, Eielson, Alaska (March 5, 1981)
  5. Lori King, 18, Fairbanks, Alaska (May 16, 1981)
  6. Cassandra Goodwin, 22, Henrietta, Texas (never admitted to homicide)

On June 13, 1980, 11-year-old Doris Oehring went missing from North Pole, Alaska; they found her bike in the ditch. Luckily, a witness saw a blue vehicle near the area where the bicycle was found and helped the police create a composite sketch; but no leads were generated. To make matters worse, this was the second known abduction in less than a year. Eight months earlier, on August 29, 1979, a boy hunting in the woods found the decomposing body of 19-year-old Glinda Sodemann; she had been strangled and shot. Nine months after Doris Oehring mysteriously went missing; 16-year-old Wendy Wilson disappeared; her friend last saw her talking to a man in a white truck. Wendy’s body was found three days later; she had been strangled and shot in the head as well. Police wondered if there was more than one predator. As the police scrambled to find leads, another body of a woman turned up dead near Eielson Air Force Base. The victim was identified as 21-year-old Marlene Peters; Marlene was strangled and shot in the head too.

The police were panicking because of the number of murders in one location, and then a fifth woman vanished. Troopers teamed up with military and civilian search teams to find the missing and then one day while soldiers were out hunting, they found the body of Lori King; she too was strangled and shot in the head. Unable to calculate the next move of the serial killer, state troopers tried another tactic. They staked out the killer’s dumping grounds within a 10 mile radius of Eielson AFB. And then the killings stopped. And then in November 1982, troopers received a call from Henrietta, Texas informing them a woman had been murdered in the same fashion as their suspected serial killer. Police worked with the military to see if they couldn’t narrow down the suspects based on who owned a blue car or white pick-up truck. And finally, the police came up with a name: Thomas Richard Bunday was a TSgt in the Air Force who transferred to Sheppard AFB shortly after the murder of the fifth victim in Alaska.

Alaska investigators learned Bunday owned a blue car and a white truck, and he was on the Air Force’s radar list because there were several complaints made about his inappropriate sexual remarks to women in the workplace. Alaska investigators also learned Bunday served in the military for fifteen years and was a married, father of two. On March 7, 1983, Alaska investigators talked to Bunday for three hours about everything but the murders and they did this for several days hoping he would confess; but he refused to talk. Bunday didn’t deny the crimes; but refused to confess. After a week of interrogation, the troopers obtained a search warrant to search Bunday’s property. They found a lot of incriminating evidence that directly tied him to the crime in Alaska but had to obtain an arrest warrant from Alaska. Alaska Troopers had no power to arrest outside of Alaska. The Governor offered a private leer jet to bring Bunday back to Alaska. The arrest was the next day but he failed to show up as promised.

Unfortunately, Thomas Bunday slipped past surveillance on his motorcycle. Instead of meeting with the Alaska investigators again, Bunday instead killed himself. Police learned Bunday died by suicide after he crossed the center line and slammed into a truck at a 100 mph. Police were really hoping they would get more information from him before he died. They wanted to know where Doris’ body was so they could give the family closure. In August 1986, three years after Bunday died, Doris’ skull was found in a remote section of Eielson Air Force Base. It was later learned that Bunday’s job in the Air Force most likely allowed him to view his dump sites via surveillance cameras and relive his sadistic behavior. Bunday was most likely watching investigators at the crime scene. Alaska state investigators are convinced that Thomas Richard Bunday was responsible for the five murders in Alaska. And they believe Bunday denied the murder in Texas to avoid the death penalty before opting instead to kill himself on March 15, 1983.

Source: North Pole Slay Ride, Ice Cold Killers, Investigation Discovery

“From 1979 to 1981, Thomas Richard Bunday, a technical sergeant who was stationed at the Eilson Air Force Base near Fairbanks, Alaska, murdered four women and an 11-year-old girl. With the help of a psychological profile provided by the FBI and a description from an eyewitness, the authorities were eventually able to close in on Bunday. By the time police identified Bunday as their prime suspect, however, he had already been transferred to another base near Wichita Falls, Texas.

When officials from Alaska traveled to Texas to interview Bunday, he admitted to the killings, but the officers didn’t have the jurisdiction to arrest him. The police from Alaska scrambled to get a warrant, and when they went to apprehend Bunday, his wife informed the officials that he had taken off on his motorcycle. Tragically, the officers learned that on March 16, 1983, just hours after they’d obtained an arrest warrant, Bunday drove his motorcycle into the path of an oncoming truck, ending his life.”

Learn more at Ranker.

Investigation Discovery:

Ice Cold Killers: North Pole Slay Ride from Stephanie Kovac on Vimeo.

The tiny town of North Pole, Alaska is a quiet, safe haven best known for Santa Claus. But when the bodies of young women begin turning up one by one, investigators slowly piece together the clues and discover the unlikeliest of killers. -North Pole Slay Ride, Ice Cold Killers (S1,E4)

Editor’s note: With a cable subscription, you can download the free ID Go app and watch Investigation Discovery programming at your convenience. And for those who do not have cable, you can watch “unlocked” episodes on the ID Go app including the latest premieres. For those who prefer commercial free programming during your binge session, Prime Video has an ID channel: ‘True Crime Files by Investigation Discovery” available for $3.99 a month. It’s a compilation of older seasons but totally worth the cost if you are a true crime addict. Download the ID Go app or purchase ID True Crime Files & binge away.

Related Links:
Thomas Richard Bunday | Murderpedia
Bunday A Suspect in Murder Cases (1983)
Murder suspect killed in crash (1983)
Man Confesses to Five Slayings
Serial Killer: Thomas Richard Bunday | Bonnies Blog of Crime
Murder at 40 Below: True Crime Stories from Alaska by Tom Brennan (excerpt)
Murder at 40 Below: True Crime Stories from Alaska by Tom Brennan (Amazon)
10 Ice Cold Killers From Alaska That Will Make You Fear The Last Frontier
Ice Cold Killers: North Pole Slay Ride | Vimeo
North Pole Slay Ride | Ice Cold Killers | Investigation Discovery (S1,E4)
North Pole Slay Ride | Ice Cold Killers | Investigation Discovery (website)
North Pole Slay Ride | Ice Cold Killers | Investigation Discovery (Amazon)
Ice Cold Killers Premiered ‘North Pole Slay Ride’ on ID: Five Women Found Murdered Near Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska (January 1, 2013)