‘Unacceptable’: Congresswoman Needs Reforms as Decapitated Soldier Chilly Case Lingers

Within the wake of an unsolved 2020 murder, a lawmaker is pushing the Pentagon to overtake the way it handles chilly circumstances.

One 12 months after Spc. Enrique Roman-Martinez’s dying was deemed a chilly case, Democratic Congresswoman Norma J. Torres launched a invoice that may require the army to take steps to make sure circumstances like his aren’t improperly shelved by the companies.

“The truth that Spc. Roman-Martinez’s case stays unsolved is unacceptable, and I’ve beforehand demanded that the Pentagon’s inspector normal conduct a full, unbiased examination of what occurred to this case,” Torres advised Navy.com in a press release by way of e-mail.

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The invoice, the Enrique Roman-Martinez Navy Chilly Case Justice Act, directs the secretary of protection to reform and supply better oversight for the companies’ investigatory arms relating to how they deal with chilly circumstances.

Along with a report back to Congress, Torres’ invoice would require new processes for continuity between investigators on circumstances that will outlast one investigator’s time at a division, making certain that the case continues with out interruption brought on by routine turnover, and to “specify the circumstances” during which a case is handed to the Pentagon’s inspector normal for evaluate.

Roman-Martinez was reported lacking by one of many seven troopers who accompanied him on an ill-fated Memorial Day Weekend tenting journey to North Carolina’s Outer Banks. His head washed ashore just some miles from the place he was final seen.

Authorities marked his dying a murder and, greater than a 12 months later, the file has subsequently been deemed a chilly case. 

So far, the style during which Roman-Martinez’s decapitation occurred has not been decided and nobody has been charged in direct connection to his dying. Murky and conflicting particulars proceed to plague the case because the seven accompanying troopers face costs for conspiracy or drug-related misconduct related to the tenting journey. 

Not less than one has been quietly dismissed from the Army.

“Specialist Roman-Martinez and his household deserve justice for his homicide, and it’s an outrage that after two years of investigations we nonetheless haven’t any solutions in his case,” Torres, who counts the Roman-Martinez household as constituents in her California district, stated in a press release Thursday.

The household has been essential of the service’s response for the reason that paratrooper’s dying.

Griselda Martinez, Roman-Martinez’s sister, advised Navy.com that she hopes that the laws is a step in the fitting course for army households battling irritating chilly circumstances, however remained despondent concerning the Army Legal Investigation Division’s response to her brother’s case within the wake of his dying.

“I’ve no one,” Martinez stated Monday of Army investigators and officers. “I had no one this entire time on the crew that really needed to assist me, that needed to assist my household — my mother.”

Martinez pointed to frustrations she and her household skilled early on within the investigation, specifically the choice to ship Army and FBI investigators again to the crime scene with dive groups practically seven months after Roman-Martinez’s head was discovered and the CID’s implication that he may have been decapitated by a ship.

“On the finish of the day, I believe [investigators] are simply achieved with it,” Martinez stated. She added that she thought they had been “attempting to clean their palms of it.”

When contacted by Navy.com, a CID spokesperson pointed the general public to the division’s chilly case website, which lists details about the Roman-Martinez case and the $50,000 reward for data on it.

“The investigation stays open and ongoing,” Patrick Barnes, chief of public affairs for CID, advised Navy.com over e-mail in response to a request for remark Thursday.

Because the starting of the COVID-19 pandemic, greater than 100 troopers have died both by suicide, overdose or murder — some underneath mysterious circumstances — in and across the Fort Bragg space, in accordance with Rolling Stone reporting from Seth Harp and native retailers.

When requested Monday about CID’s present cold-case course of, Barnes stated that the division “continues to remodel its capability to centralize oversight and compliance of investigations at its headquarters in Quantico, Virginia.”

He added that the division just lately established a Chilly Case Unit, or CCU — a requirement requested by Torres in her invoice.

“In accordance with Supervisory Particular Agent Todd Howell, dying and chilly case desk officer, throughout the [Investigations and Operations Directorate], an investigation will likely be moved to ‘Chilly Case’ standing when the native subject workplace has performed all logical and sensible leads, and proof has been analyzed to the extent of present technological and scientific capabilities,” Barnes wrote in an e-mail.

CID defines a chilly case as “a dying investigation whereby the style of dying has been dominated as a murder or is suspected to be a murder, and all logical investigative leads have been exhausted with out decision,” he added.

After a case hits the Army’s CCU — which consists of 4 folks, Barnes stated that the division continues to observe the case as leads are available in and forensic know-how advances.

All seven troopers who accompanied Roman-Martinez in Could 2020 had been charged with nonviolent crimes; no less than two — Sgt. Samuel Moore and Spc. Alex Becerra — had been convicted. Fort Bragg confirmed Becerra’s dismissal from the Army over the summer season.

Roman-Martinez’s case is certainly one of a number of high-profile investigations that the Army is grappling with the place lower-enlisted troops — who are sometimes folks of colour — have died and gained nationwide consideration for the doubtful circumstances surrounding their deaths and the best way the Army has dealt with the following investigation or response. That listing contains the homicide of Spc. Vanessa Guillen in 2020 and, most just lately, the dying of Spc. Denisha Montgomery in August, which sparked nationwide backlash.

For Martinez, her brother’s chilly case represents an ongoing and open wound that lacks sufficient justice. She stated she was final contacted by CID in June, including that she needs investigators would take the case “extra severely.”

“They advised me that, ‘We did every little thing we may,'” she stated. 

However Martinez believes that the Army was extra involved about supporting the seven troops who had gone tenting together with her brother.

“They did the very best for them, not for me, not for my household, not for my brother.”

— Drew F. Lawrence might be reached at drew.lawrence@army.com. Comply with him on Twitter @df_lawrence.

Associated: 2 Troopers Related to the Thriller of Decapitated Paratrooper Convicted of Non-Violent Fees

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