Forbidden, Dying for Love Premiered ‘Onward, Christian Soldier’ on ID: Fort Bragg Army MSgt William Wright Admitted Murdering Wife (June 29, 2019)

ID Go: While her husband serves in the army, a lonely married mother of three finds comfort in the arms of her church’s charismatic new minister. But danger looms in the form of a jealous love-rival that will stop at nothing to scare her away. -Onward, Christian Soldier, Forbidden: Dying for Love (S4,E4)

Forbidden: Dying for Love featured the Jennifer and William Wright 2002 homicide-suicide case on Investigation Discovery. ‘Onward, Christian Soldier’ highlighted the circumstances that lead to the murder of Jennifer Wright and the pain it inflicted on those who were left behind including their three sons. According to the show, William Wright was a Master Sergeant in the U.S. Army and was stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina with his wife and three children. MSgt Wright was routinely deployed after 9/11/2001 and as a result he was never home. Bill’s absence was hard on Jennifer and the marriage. She wanted Bill to leave the Army but the Army was his life; it’s what he was meant to do. While Bill was deployed in Afghanistan, he learned that Jennifer was telling people back home that he divorced her.

Bill was stunned to learn the news and was granted leave to go back stateside and deal with his family crisis. Bill learned Jennifer was having an affair with the pastor at church and she wanted a divorce. Instead of salvaging his marriage, Bill murdered Jennifer in the family home on June 29, 2002 and covered it up. When investigators questioned Bill about Jennifer’s murder, he broke down and told them everything. Bill admitted he hit his wife with a baseball bat and then strangled her to death. He then put her body in a garbage bag and buried her in some woods near Fort Bragg. In 2003, William Wright was in prison awaiting trial when he died by suicide in his jail cell. Jennifer and William’s sons expressed concern that the Army’s anti-malaria drugs negatively impacted their father’s health and was most likely the reason this tragedy occurred.

This domestic violence related homicide was one of five murders that occurred in a six week period at Fort Bragg in 2002. Rigoberto Nieves fatally shot his wife Teresa on June 11, 2002; Cedric Griffin fatally stabbed his wife Marilyn on July 9, 2002; Brandon Floyd fatally shot his wife Andrea on July 19, 2002; and military spouse Joan Shannon manipulated her daughter Elizabeth to shoot her step-father Major David Shannon on July 23, 2002 while he slept.

Source: ‘Onward, Christian Soldier’ Forbidden: Dying for Love

Editor’s note: With a cable subscription, you can download the free ID Go app and watch all of the 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. Download the ID Go app and binge away. 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 $2.99 a month. It’s a compilation of older seasons but totally worth the cost if you are a true crime addict.

Related Links:
Fort Bragg Soldier Admits To Wife’s Murder
Wives’ slayings shock Army at Fort Bragg
Soldiers kill wives after serving in Afghanistan
Murders shake US military
A Base Rocked by Violence
A War at Home | People
Blood on the Home Front | Time
Death in the Ranks at Fort Bragg
4 Wives Slain in 6 Weeks at Ft. Bragg
Fort Bragg’s Deadly Summer | Vanity Fair (December 2002)
Rash of Wife Killings at Ft. Bragg Leaves the Base Wondering Why
Suicide In Fort Bragg Jail (March 24, 2003)
Special Forces Soldier Hangs Himself
Third Bragg soldier took malaria drug
Special Forces soldier charged in wife’s slaying hangs himself
What to Watch on Saturday: A Fayetteville murder on ID, new movies from Hallmark and Lifetime
Onward, Christian Soldier | Forbidden: Dying for Love | Investigation Discovery (S4,E4)
Onward, Christian Soldier | Forbidden: Dying for Love | Investigation Discovery (website)
Onward, Christian Soldier | Forbidden: Dying for Love | Investigation Discovery (Amazon)
Violent Crime, Non Combat Death and Suicide at Fort Bragg, North Carolina (US Army)
Death on the Home Front (2009)
Under the Sabers: The Unwritten Code of Army Wives by Tanya Biank (February 7, 2006)

“Leave No Soldier Behind”: The Unsolved Mystery of the Soldier Who Died in the Watchtower | Vanity Fair (January 8, 2019)

Matthew Brown Army.png

Matthew Warren Brown, U.S. Army (via Vanity Fair Facebook)

Is the Army botching its investigations into noncombatant deaths?

I. The Gun Tower

“On the morning of May 11, 2008, a U.S. Army private second class named Matthew Warren Brown died of a single gunshot wound to the head while manning a watchtower at a forward operating base in Afghanistan. Brown was 20 years old. He was a skinny, all-American kid, a bit aimless but affable and unassuming. He was a good guy. You could see it in his face. At his funeral back home in Pennsylvania, some 200 people showed up. In the aftermath of Brown’s death, army investigators created files about the circumstances. The bullet that killed him was fired from his own weapon, an M4 carbine. He was working the six A.M. shift, alone in the watchtower by the fortified main gate to the base. The tower was known as the Gun Tower. It was made of concrete, and looked medieval when viewed from the outside. It was three stories tall. On the second and third floors it had openings covered with two-piece Plexiglas windows, some of which had broken off and been left lying in shards on the floors.” Read more from Vanity Fair here.

Related Links:
Pvt Matthew Warren Brown | Find A Grave
DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Pvt. Matthew W. Brown
Army Pvt. Matthew W. Brown | Honor the Fallen
Fort Bragg Soldier dies in Afghanistan
Soldier from Fort Bragg dies in Afghanistan
Fort Bragg soldier dies from injuries in Afghanistan
Zelienople soldier killed in Afghanistan, father says
Soldier from Zelienople killed in Afghanistan
Zelienople soldier who died in Afghanistan buried today
“Leave No Soldier Behind”: The Unsolved Mystery of the Soldier Who Died in the Watchtower | Vanity Fair
Family of soldier found dead in Afghanistan in 2008 says he did not commit suicide as claimed
Family of soldier who was found dead in Afghanistan watchtower in 2008 says he did not commit suicide, as the military claims, and had told them he feared he would be killed over his role in a drug ring that was being run on-base by a ‘thug’ sergeant
Army Pvt. Matthew Brown Died As a Result of a Non-Combat Related Incident in Afghanistan; Death Ruled Suicide But Family Alleges Murder in Vanity Fair Publication (May 11, 2008)

Army Pvt. Matthew Brown Died As a Result of a Non-Combat Related Incident in Afghanistan; Death Ruled Suicide But Family Alleges Murder in Vanity Fair Publication (May 11, 2008)

Matthew Brown

Pvt. Matthew Brown, U.S. Army (photo: Vanity Fair)

Army Pvt. Matthew W. Brown, 20, of Zelienople, Pennsylvania, died May 11, 2008 in Asadabad, Afghanistan from injuries suffered in a non-combat related incident. Pvt. Brown was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom on behalf of the 3rd Battalion, 321st Field Artillery Regiment, 18th Fires Brigade (Airborne) at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. At the time of the incident, the Department of Defense announced Pvt. Brown’s death was under investigation. On January 8, 2019, the family alleged Matthew was murdered in a Vanity Fair publication titled “Leave No Soldier Behind”: The Unsolved Mystery of the Soldier Who Died in the Watchtower.

Related Links:
Pvt Matthew Warren Brown | Find A Grave
DoD Identifies Army Casualty: Pvt. Matthew W. Brown
Army Pvt. Matthew W. Brown | Honor the Fallen
Fort Bragg Soldier dies in Afghanistan
Soldier from Fort Bragg dies in Afghanistan
Fort Bragg soldier dies from injuries in Afghanistan
Zelienople soldier killed in Afghanistan, father says
Soldier from Zelienople killed in Afghanistan
Zelienople soldier who died in Afghanistan buried today
“Leave No Soldier Behind”: The Unsolved Mystery of the Soldier Who Died in the Watchtower | Vanity Fair
Family of soldier found dead in Afghanistan in 2008 says he did not commit suicide as claimed
Family of soldier who was found dead in Afghanistan watchtower in 2008 says he did not commit suicide, as the military claims, and had told them he feared he would be killed over his role in a drug ring that was being run on-base by a ‘thug’ sergeant
“Leave No Soldier Behind”: The Unsolved Mystery of the Soldier Who Died in the Watchtower | Vanity Fair (January 8, 2019)

The US Air Force Academy Sexual Assault Scandal, Colorado (2003)

USAF Seal

On January 2, 2003, Jessica Brakey, a female cadet at the US Air Force Academy, contacted media and congressional representatives asking for help with sexual assault at the Academy. As a result of her coming forward, Senator Wayne Allard’s office was contacted by 38 former cadets, 23 current cadets, and one civilian, all of whom said they had been raped by Air Force Academy men. During the investigation into the scandal, the air force admitted that 16 graduates who were accused of sexual assaults were currently serving as officers in the military. Like every scandal before and since, the USAFA leaders at the time took the fall for the ‘scandal’ and the USAF promised they made sweeping changes in regards to how they will handle allegations of sexual abuse. They also claimed ‘the problem was isolated’ at the Academy in Colorado.

“It’s a terrible feeling when someone does this to you and gets away with it, and then you report it and the system punishes you. It’s almost worse than the actual act, that the system failed you.” ~Sharon Fullilove

Related Links:
2003 United States Air Force Academy sexual assault scandal
Air Force Academy Investigated 54 Sexual Assaults in 10 Years
Air Force Admits at Least 54 Cases of Rape and Sexual Assault at Air Force Academy–Scandal Called Bigger Than Tailhook: We’ll Talk to Two Survivors
The Air Force Academy Scandal
Survey: 20 percent of female cadets victims of sexual assault
Report finds sexual assault, drug use at Air Force Academy
Air Force Academy Sees New Assault, Drug Use Allegations
Air Force Rape Scandal Grows
Air Force Academy Ignores Rapes, Women Say
US Air Force Academy chiefs removed over rape scandal
Air Force leadership blamed for sex scandal
Pentagon blames Air Force Academy leaders for sexual misconduct scandal
Air Force: Sex assault scandal confined to the academy
Breaking Ranks
Code of Dishonor
Air Force Academy Whistleblower Alleges Dog Poisoned in Retaliation
No Simple Explanation In Air Force Academy Sex Crime Data
Honor and Deception: A secretive Air Force program recruits academy students to inform on fellow cadets and disavows them afterward
U.S. Air Force Academy — It Doesn’t Get Better

Fort Campbell Army Pfc. Barry Winchell Died of Injuries Sustained in a Baseball Bat Attack in the Barracks; Calvin Glover Sentenced to Life in Prison (July 5, 1999)

Barry Winchell

Pfc. Barry Winchell, U.S. Army (photo: wikipedia)

Vanity Fair Confidential featured an episode called Don’t Ask Don’t Kill on Investigation Discovery highlighting the case of Army Pfc. Barry Winchell at Fort Campbell, Kentucky in 1999. Winchell was bludgeoned to death by a fellow soldier while he lay asleep in his cot on July 5 in the barracks. Winchell was described by his friends as someone who would give the shirt off his back for you. He was a model soldier and had dreams of becoming a Warrant Officer. He was a member of the elite Screaming Eagles, 101st Airborne and was considered a perfect fit for the military. He was described by fellow soldiers as a 50 caliber expert.

After Barry Winchell died, the military immediately began downplaying what had occurred on base at Fort Campbell. They initially claimed it was a fight that had gone too far. They told the family that Barry Winchell had been kicked in the head with a boot but his injuries did not match that theory. As a result, the family and media outlets were convinced the military was hiding the real story and believed they were trying to cover up the crime. Why? The military concluded that this was a rare soldier on soldier attack in their barracks but the claim that he was kicked in the head did not match the crime scene either. Although the military was tasked with the investigation of the murder, they declined to speculate on a motive.

The Army was not cooperating with anyone. ~Vanity Fair Confidential

When Barry’s girlfriend Calpernia Addams learned about what happened to Barry, he was on life support and considered brain dead. He died twelve hours after the attack and she didn’t get an opportunity to see him. Calpernia learned that he had been murdered on base and believed that there was more to this story then what the Army was sharing. As a result, she set out to make sure both Barry’s parents and the media knew what she knew and suspected had happened. Calpernia was born a boy. She served in the US Navy as a transsexual and then once she got out of the military, she began her transition from man to woman. When Calpernia and Barry met, they hit it off immediately and started dating. When she met Barry, she was halfway to becoming a woman. She lovingly shared that Barry accepted her for who she was and supported her in her transition from man to woman.

Calpernia strongly believed that people were blurring the lines between whether Barry was gay or straight. She wanted people to know that he was straight and he liked women. Calpernia believed that Barry’s troubles began with an anonymous accusation that Barry was gay. She claimed that a fellow soldier said he saw Barry giving oral sex to a man in a Nashville gay bar. But no one believed it and his military comrades didn’t think he was gay.  Calpernia believed that it was Barry’s roommate, Justin Fisher, who started spreading the rumors in an effort to cause harm to Barry. In 1999 the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy was in effect and a soldier could in fact lose their career if they were found out. Justin Fisher didn’t have the best reputation. He was described as someone who thought he was a gangster even though he was from Nebraska. And some believed that Justin never should have been allowed to join the military.

According to Calpernia, Justin Fisher and Barry Winchell had a love/hate relationship. Fisher tormented him, joked about his sexuality, about him being a homosexual, and kept calling him a faggot. He told others that he didn’t trust him and eventually openly spread rumors that Barry was gay. Fisher also blackmailed Barry with his alleged homosexuality. He told their Non Commissioned Officers (NCOs) about him being gay knowing that Barry could lose his career under the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) policy. Back in those days, once accused of being gay, you were dead in the water in a military setting. Some believe this case reveals that if gone unchecked the military can become an incubator for hate. At the time of DADT, it was virtually impossible to report anti-gay harassment and Barry’s family and friends were not quite sure how he dealt with the regular doses of harassment. As evidenced in this case and many others, he had nowhere to turn without fear of losing his cherished career.

At the time of DADT, it was virtually impossible to report anti-gay harassment without fear of losing your career. ~Vanity Fair Confidential

The military was in charge of the investigation because the crime occurred on a federal base. As with many cases, family, friends, and the media forced the Army to be accountable for what happened on their base on their watch. So as the investigation into Barry’s Winchell’s death continued, we learned what actually  happened. Calvin Glover, an eighteen year old new recruit, was ultimately charged with the murder of Barry Winchell. Observers felt that he did it because of a combination of too many men, too much alcohol, and too little to do. The day before the murder, Calvin and Winchell got into a fight. Apparently Winchell dealt him one punch in the face and he went down. Calvin who was highly intoxicated swore he would get him back but Winchell apologized to him the next day and it appeared that everything was fine. Unfortunately, Justin Fisher (Winchell’s roommate) was provoking Calvin all day long asking him if he was going to take Winchell’s abuse.

That same night after Calvin Glover had consumed seventeen beers, he decided he was going to bed. Fisher went to his room and told him that Barry was telling everyone that he beat him up and they were all laughing about it. Fisher handed Calvin a wooden bat, suggested he hit Barry with it, and Calvin said he felt compelled to use it. In a drunken, peer pressured stupor, Calvin hit Barry Winchell multiple times in the head with the wooden bat. Barry Winchell was asleep and couldn’t defend himself. After Calvin was done hitting Barry, Fisher was laughing, jumping up and down, and told Calvin that they would keep it in the family. Then Calvin immediately began to destroy evidence. Fisher acted like he stumbled upon Winchell on the cot and was trying to help him. The soldiers tried calling 911 but they were not able to get through to emergency services on a base phone. Barry was taken to the hospital and twelve hours later, he was dead. Everyone in the barracks was wondering who would come in the barracks and kill them.

The soldiers tried calling 911 but they were not able to get through to emergency services on a base phone. ~Vanity Fair Confidential

In the course of the investigation, Justin Fisher eventually identified Calvin Glover as the culprit. As a result of Calpernia Addams and others that stepped forward, we learned that there was more to the story underneath the surface. We learned that Justin Fisher had a much larger role in the crime then he was willing to admit. Justin Fisher introduced Calpernia Addams to Barry Winchell. Apparently Justin Fisher was interested in Calpernia Addams and after she chose Barry, he asked her if she would hook him up with one of her drag queen friends. Justin ended up hooking up with Kimmie Mayfield, who was a man. Everyone suspected that Justin was interested in guys because of his relationship with Kimmie. They hooked up several times in the course of a few months. We also learned this wasn’t Justin’s first walk on the wild side. He had a history of experimentation. Barry shared with Calpernia that one time he woke up to Justin playing with his feet. Calpernia deduced that Justin may have been jealous of Calpernia being with Barry or vice versa. It was noted that people tend to hate those who remind them of something they don’t want to face.

In the end about 90% of the soldiers who served with Barry Winchell, Calvin Glover, and Justin Fisher didn’t think this was a hate crime but instead a crime of passion. They did not witness any anti-gay rage; but they did witness too much alcohol. One of the soldiers believed that Justin Fisher also hit Barry Winchell with the bat because of the blood spatter evidence left at the crime scene. It matched someone who was left handed and Fisher was left handed. One of the soldiers mentioned this to Fisher and Fisher told him he was in the wrong career and should be a detective instead. The soldiers who served with them believed that Justin Fisher was the murderer and Calvin Glover was the murder weapon. Calvin felt pressured by Justin Fisher to hit Winchell while he was intoxicated. It is suspected that Fisher hit Winchell with the bat as well and may have been the one that dealt the fatal blows. Calvin participated in the Vanity Fair programming by phone from prison and did in fact express remorse for his role in Barry Winchell’s death.

Both Calvin Glover and Justin Fisher were court martialed. In the end, Calvin Glover was convicted of pre-meditated murder and was sentenced to life in prison with an opportunity for parole. Justin Fisher was charged as an accessory and restricted to his barracks while he was going through trial. Observers felt that it was ridiculous that Fisher was restricted to his barracks when in fact he was the mastermind of the murder. He too was convicted and sentenced to twelve and half years but was released early in 2006 after only serving seven years. Observers felt that Justin Fisher’s sentence was a miscarriage of justice considering it never would have happened if it wasn’t for him pushing Calvin Glover to hit Barry Winchell with the baseball bat that night. Justin Fisher now lives in the Mid-West and declined to comment on this Vanity Fair episode. He walks as a free man. In retrospect, Calvin Glover shared that he feels like this was a love triangle gone wrong and he wishes that he could take it all back.

At the end of the programming, Pat and Wally Kutteles (Barry’s parents) shared that they sent their son off to serve in the military, they did not send him off to be beaten to death with a bat while he was sleeping. Dixon Osborn from the Servicemen’s Legal Defense Network (SLDN) believed that the military simply wanted to sweep it under the rug with no connection to the gay reference. The military hoped the general public, the media, and Barry’s parents would just accept that it was a drunken brawl. All those involved felt like the military investigation was a joke. Calpernia Addams, Barry’s parents and friends, and the SLDN wanted to honor Barry’s memory by exposing the truth about Barry’s untimely death. They used Barry Winchell’s case as a catalyst to lift the dangerous Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy. According to those involved, President Bill Clinton’s DADT policy was the biggest mistake ever for the military because it taught people to lie. At the peak of DADT, there were 3-4 soldiers discharged per day for their sexual orientation. DADT was a failure of the Clinton administration.

All those involved felt like the military investigation was a joke. ~Vanity Fair Confidential

In an interesting twist, the Commander who was in charge at the time of the death of Barry Winchell sparked protest in Washington DC in 2000 when he was reassigned to the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon. In response, Eric Shinseki, the Army’s Chief of Staff, stated that General Clark’s command at Fort Campbell had been “distinguished by great competence and compassionate leadership. The Army has placed its trust and confidence in Major General Clark and I am confident he will continue to excel in service to our nation.” The military concluded in a public statement that this was the first gay bashing murder in over ten years and that soldier on soldier violence was rare. In October 1999, President Clinton signed an executive order increasing penalties for hate crimes in the military justice code and allowed a sentencing authority to hear evidence that a violent crime was based on race, color or sexual orientation. However, the order only applied to crimes committed after Nov. 30, 1999.

Barry Winchell’s parents lobbied with the SLDN to help change the DADT policy after losing their son. Even though their son was not gay, he was accused of being gay which eventually led to his death.  Roughly ten years later in 2010, President Barack Obama signed a historic bill ending the DADT policy, a policy that compelled gay and lesbian service members to hide their sexual orientation. The ending of the policy made it official for gays and lesbians to serve openly in the Armed Forces. President Obama said he “hopes all those who left the service because of the policy will seek to re-enlist. And he encouraged all gays to consider service.” Although, gays and lesbians were cautioned to keep their identity to themselves until the law was official in 2011. This comes as one of the first major actions by Secretary Defense Leon Panetta, who had been on the job for three weeks. SecDef Panetta also lifted the ban on women in combat in 2013. Our military is now officially equal in all respects.

Related Links:
Pfc Barry L Winchell Memorial Page | Facebook
American Justice: A Soldier’s Secret
Don’t Ask, Don’t Kill: Inside the Murder of Soldier Barry Winchell | Vanity Fair
The Barry Winchell Case Helped End the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Policy in the Military
Showtime Entertainment Released ‘Soldier’s Girl’: Based on the True Story of the Murder of Fort Campbell Army Pfc. Barry Winchell (January 20, 2003)
15 Movies & Documentaries That Expose the Broken Military Justice System
Pentagon is accused of cover-up in gay murder at army base
Witness: Private Admitted Killing | AP
Hate May Have Triggered Fatal Barracks Beating
DoD Clarifies “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Policy
Army Private Guilty Of Murder
Army private found guilty of planned murder
Oklahoman convicted Army says Sulphur man guilty in other’s murder
Soldier Gets Life With Parole | Associated Press
Soldier Gets Life with Parole | Chicago Tribune
Soldier guilty of lesser charge in base death
Soldier Gets 12 1/2 Years in Prison for His Role in Beating Death
A statement on the murder of Private First Class Barry Winchell
Army Exonerates Officers In Slaying of Gay Private
Commanders cleared in fort murder of gay soldier
Army Report: Base Not Anti-Gay
Military Gay Policy Defended
Family of murdered gay soldier sues U.S. Army for wrongful death
Mother Plans to Sue Army After Son Beaten to Death
For Love of Country | SFGate
Gay dismissals up after Army death
Gay discharges on rise in Army and Navy
Nomination of former Fort Campbell commander in limbo
Congressional Record Volume 149, Number 167 (Tuesday, November 18, 2003)
Bush Re-Nominates Controversial Major General to High Post
Major General Robert Clark: Promoted
Military prosecutor says soldier hated gays
Parents of murdered Army private speak out
Former soldier convicted in Winchell murder released
Army releases soldier convicted in connection with anti-gay murder
Army Releases Barry Winchell Murder Conspirator, 5 Years Early
Gays in the Military: Does a Sailor’s Murder Signal Deeper Problems?
Commentary: Murdered soldier’s parents know ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ is wrong
Commentary: Murdered soldier’s parents know ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ is wrong
Murdered soldier’s parents: Repeal ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’
Remembering Pfc. Barry Winchell on the 10th Anniversary of His Murder
Episode features Winchell story
Patricia Kutteles was a military mother who helped repeal ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’
Patricia Kutteles, Driven by Tragedy to End ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
Patricia Kutteles, military mother who helped repeal ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ dies at 67
Episode 12 The Murder of PFC Barry Winchell: Casualty and Martyr of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell | Southern Fried True Crime Podcast
Episode 32: The Murder of Barry Winchell (Part 1) | Military Murder Podcast
Ep33. MURDER: The Murder of Barry Winchell (Part 2) | Military Murder Podcast
Violent Crime, Suicide & Non Combat Death at Fort Campbell, Kentucky (US Army)