Thursday, December 2, 2021

Army closes investigation into murder of soldier Chino

The U.S. Army has closed an investigation into the killing of a California paratrooper whose head was found separated from his body, according to spokesman Norma Torres, who asks the Pentagon inspector general to check if the military investigation was flawed.

Enrique Roman-Martinez, 21, was in Fort Bragg, North Carolina when he went missing in May 2020. Roman Martinez of Chino set out on a Memorial Day weekend with seven fellow soldiers on an island off the coast of North Carolina. … His partial remains were later washed ashore near the camp.

In a letter on Tuesday to Sean O’Donnell, acting inspector general of the Department of Defense, Torres (Democrat from Pomona) said the army “unfortunately” closed the investigation this summer “without justice for Roman-Martinez or his family.” She demanded “a complete and independent study of the reaction and investigation into the murder of Roman-Martinez.”

“As we look forward to the holiday season, Spc. Roman Martinez should be with his family. He should have already been fired from the army and started a new life, ”wrote Torres. “Instead, his family has spent more than 16 months in agony awaiting a justice that has no end in sight. During this time, the family has lost all confidence in the Criminal Investigation Department of the army. “

In a telephone interview, Torres raised questions about other soldiers on the march who had waited 19 hours to report the missing Roman Martinez.

“When they met a park ranger who approached them because they were illegally parked on the campground, it was high time for them to say, ‘Hey, a soldier is missing there. One of the vacationers, one of our friends, is missing, ”said Torres.

“But they didn’t say that,” she said. “They didn’t say it because they said they thought he was suicidal and they were afraid to draw attention to it. Well, if he was suicidal, I think that’s a great reason to ask for help and say that your friend and colleague are missing. But they didn’t. “

Torres wants an overview of how the military communicates with family and overcomes language barriers; the attitude of the army to any people of interest; requirements for soldiers to report missing members or co-workers; investigation schedule; and whether any logistical or jurisdictional obstacles affected the pace of the investigation.

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In August, the Army’s Criminal Investigation Directorate began offering up to $ 50,000 for reliable information about the circumstances of Roman-Martinez’s death. The Army said it has set up a special task force made up of special agents and FBI personnel to investigate.

The task force said it has completed over 100 warrants and subpoenas, conducted over 400 interviews in multiple states, and visited the island seven times for air, land and sea searches. The agents also said they examined more than five terabytes of digital data, including from mobile phones, and examined cars and more than 130 other items, but none of them found any traces of blood or DNA.

CID Special Agent Steve Chancellor said in a statement on August 2 that the task force found no physical, forensic, or eyewitness evidence linking anyone to the death of Roman-Martinez.

“I have worked as a criminal investigator for over 40 years and have worked in hundreds of death investigations,” the chancellor said. “This tragic death is a real mystery of what exactly happened. All logical theories or suspicions that have arisen to date have been investigated and either refuted or refuted. We have and are still considering all the possibilities, but we need help from the public. “

Torres criticized the army for not depriving seven soldiers of the right to leave the base on weekends and after hours. While there is no evidence that they were involved in his death, Torres said the army’s inaction could have allowed them to return to the site.

“I just think that a lot of what I offered them should have been done automatically. They shouldn’t have asked a member of Congress to do this, ”she said. “I hate telling the army how to conduct its day to day business when it comes to missing and killed privates of our military, but at this point I feel like I have no other choice.”

An army official could not be reached for comment.

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