Trends in Active-Duty Military Deaths Since 2006 | Congressional Research Service (July 1, 2020)

Trends in Active-Duty Military Deaths Since 2006

Related Links:
Trends in Active-Duty Military Deaths Since 2006 (July 1, 2020)
Source: Trends in Active-Duty Military Deaths Since 2006 (July 1, 2020)
Non Combat Deaths of Female Service Members in the U.S. 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)
August: U.S. Department of Defense Casualties Report from Sep. 11, 2001 to 2017
September: U.S. Department of Defense Casualties Report from Sep. 11, 2001 to 2017
Military Policy and Legislation Considerations for the Investigations of Non Combat Death, Homicide, and Suicide of US Service Members

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)

Fort Hood Army Cpl. Christopher Ferguson Died of Undetermined Causes; CID Claimed Death Was Accident; CBS News Reported Suicide (March 25, 2007)

Christopher Ferguson

Cpl. Christopher Martin Ferguson, U.S. Army

Fort Hood Army Cpl. Christopher Martin Ferguson, 21, died of undetermined causes on March 25, 2007 in Killeen, Texas. Christopher was born and raised in Pataskala, Ohio and enlisted in the U.S. Army in May 2004 after graduating from high school. Cpl. Ferguson worked as a combat infantryman on behalf of the Bravo Company, 3-67 AR Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division at Fort Hood in Texas. Cpl. Ferguson deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2005; he conducted over 200 combat patrols and participated in over 30 joint operations with Iraqi counter-parts in Baghdad.

Christopher Ferguson was born on April 12, 1985, in Columbus, Ohio, the son of Theophil Ferguson of Florida, and Patty Gibson Ferguson of Pataskala. He attended the Watkins Memorial School system, and graduated from the Criminal Justice program at Licking Co JVS, Class of 2004. He was fascinated by security systems and the military since a small child. He was described as a “peacekeeper.” He entered the U.S. Army in 2004, spent one year in Iraq, and was stationed at Ft. Hood at the time of his death. Cpl. Ferguson was survived by his mother and two sisters of Pataskala, Ohio when he passed.

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July 13, 2020:

“My brother is Corporal Christopher Martin Ferguson…he passed away March 25, 2007 at Scott and White Hospital in Texas…he was stationed at Fort Hood…he had just got back from Iraq and was at a party right off of base with fellow soldiers…story was that he fell from a three-story building on his head (alcohol involved or not, you don’t fall from a balcony to your head and not fracture one other bone, not have anything broken, only have your brain bleeding)…my mom, myself and my sister were flown out to see him and he was never awake…he was on life-support for seven days…everybody that came to the hospital was not allowed to talk to us…they told us that they had been told that they were not allowed to talk about anything that happened that night…we were left with no answers…my brother’s Sergeant brought us his blazer so we had something to drive while there and my sister and myself found a grocery bag in the back of his blazer that had the clothes he was wearing that night…the paramedics had cut them off him…it was just stuffed in the back of his blazer…there was a detectives card in there that was just placed in his shoe so I called and the detective let me know that the army had taken the investigation from Killeen PD…At the same time we found his camera and his blazer, there were fellow soldiers in the pictures with him that night who claimed that they were not there…my brothers death certificate says cause unknown [undetermined]…No one would tell us what happened and it was ruled as an accident years later…One of his fellow soldiers that does surfing for veterans put my brother on national news with his picture, his name along with saying that he committed suicide, but my family was never told that…there’s a lot more to the story…it’s very fishy and there was a lot of no talking or lies and I really want to know what happened to my brother.” -Christina McDonald (sister)

Christopher Ferguson Balcony

Christopher Ferguson with two Army soldiers. Picture taken on the balcony in question in 2007.

CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell:

About 20 veterans die by suicide each day. A hotline launched in 2007 has answered more than 3.5 million calls, sending help to thousands of people. Dean Reynolds got an inside look. -CBS News with Norah O’Donnell (August 26, 2019)

Christopher Ferguson CBS News

Screenshot of the soldiers Army veteran Danny O’Neel claimed died by suicide. (CBS News)

“This is the national news episode that a fellow soldier of my brothers did! He added my brother to posters and news saying he committed suicide! If this was the case, why weren’t we told this?! The Army took the investigation from Killeen Police Department. If there was a real investigation going on, why did my sister and I find my brothers belongings, clothes, and shoes from that night…there’s blood on them, they stuffed everything in a grocery bag, and had it in the back of his blazer…they treated it like it was trash…wouldn’t you think they would need that as part of their investigation? Cpl. Christopher M. Ferguson deserves justice..please help our family find out what exactly happened to him at Fort Hood.” -Christina McDonald (sister)

Additional Photos:

Related Links:
Obituary: Christopher Martin Ferguson
Suicide Prevention Call Center | CBS News with Norah O’Donnell (Facebook)
Inside a suicide prevention call center responding to thousands of veterans (YouTube)
Army Soldiers at Fort Hood in Texas Are Dying at Alarming Rates Stateside (January 1, 2016 to Present)

Army Soldier Katherine ‘Kat’ Singleton Died in Iraq; Department of Defense Did Not Publish Press Release Notifying Public of Death (2006)

Screen Shot 2018-01-06 at 9.56.47 PM

Katherine Singleton, US Army

The parents of Army soldier Katherine ‘Kat’ Singleton, 25, confirmed that she died in Iraq on January 18, 2006 but did not wish to comment further. Kat Singleton’s home of record is listed as Pensacola, Florida and she enlisted in the Army’s Delayed Entry Program in 2001. Singleton worked as a 15F10 (MOS) and was assigned to the HHC Training Support Battalion at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Singleton’s first deployment to Iraq was with the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky from March 2003 to May 2003 (not confirmed). The Department of Defense did not publish a press release notifying the public of Katherine Singleton’s cause of death in Iraq. As a matter of fact, no credible information is available on the web except in an obituary.

HER FRIEND’S LAST WORDS AND REQUEST:

“I just want to let you know that there is no need to yell “cover up” in this case. The death of Kat P. Singleton was kept private for reasons that are no one’s business, but I assure you she is dead and that the government didn’t hide things from the public. She didn’t die overseas and what happened was very tragic but not for the public eye. She was a brave soldier who said on many occasions that she never regretted enrolling in the army and would go back to Iraq to fight for her country to secure our freedoms over and over again. She was a wonderful person and I am glad that our lives touched. I am sending this article that most of you seem to have over looked so that you may see that she is dead and she is buried. I feel that her father said little to the press because he didn’t want the world to know his family business and I believe also that it is time for you to close this thread and let Kat rest in peace. She will be forever loved and missed deeply and never forgotten.” -Anonymous

Related Links:
Obituary: Katherine Patricia ‘Kat’ Singleton (1980-2006)
Area Woman Killed in Iraq
Mysterious death of a US soldier in Iraq