SNAPSHOTS OF DEATH: After Combat Overseas, Many War Veterans Killing Others At Home, Then Themselves

The Cases

The New York Times found 121 cases in which veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan committed a killing in this country, or were charged with one, after their return from war

by Deborah Sontag and Lizette Alvarez
New York Times, Jan. 12, 2008

24. Bryan L. Davis
Fort Bragg, N.C.

Second Lt. Bryan L. Davis, 28, had recently completed Army Ranger

Tina M. Davis

training at Fort Benning when he slit his wife’s throat in February 2007 and then shot himself. His wife, Tina Davis, a car saleswoman and a member of the Army National Guard, was 29. Lieutenant Davis had served a tour in Afghanistan with the Louisiana National Guard and was deployed to his home state in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Ms. Davis’s family said that Lieutenant Davis began to physically abuse her shortly after they married. Lieutenant Davis feared he was suffering from combat-related stress but, despite his family’s pleading, did not seek help because he feared damage to his career, Ms. Davis’s relatives said. On the night of her murder, Ms. Davis had told her husband she was moving out, Ms. Davis’s friend Heather Robleto said.

28. William Edwards
Killeen, Tex.

Sgt. William Edwards, a Fort Hood soldier whose wife, Sgt. Erin

Erin Edwards

Edwards, was planning to move out of state with their children, killed her and then himself on July 22, 2004. Erin Edwards, who worked for a brigadier general at Fort Hood, had obtained a court order of protection after her husband assaulted her a month before her death. After that incident, William Edwards’s commanding officer had restricted him to Fort Hood unless accompanied by another officer. But the police found that he had routinely left the base unescorted. The last time, he committed the murder-suicide. Both Erin Edwards and William Edwards were veterans of the war in Iraq.

35. Brandon Floyd
Fort Bragg, N.C.

Sgt. First Class Brandon Floyd, a soldier in Delta Force, the secret

Andrea Floyd

antiterrorism unit of the Special Forces, killed his wife, Andrea Floyd-Ziegler, in a murder-suicide in Fort Bragg, N.C., in 2002. Sergeant Floyd was a veteran of Afghanistan. His wife of 14 years was an accomplished athlete and former soldier. Andrea Floyd-Ziegler’s mother told local reporters that her daughter wanted to end her marriage. Mrs. Floyd’s death was one of four wife killings at Fort Bragg in the summer of 2002.

41. Michael Gwinn Jr.
Columbus, Ohio

Michael E. Gwinn Jr., 22, an Army National Guardsman who served a

Michael Gwinn Jr.

year in Iraq, fatally shot his wife, Patricia Benjamin-Gwinn, also 22, and then himself in Columbus, Ohio, in early 2007. The murder-suicide was witnessed by the couple’s children. There was a history of domestic violence in the relationship, and Mrs. Gwinn had obtained a protective order shortly before her death. Mr. Gwinn told his father, Michael Gwinn Sr., of seeing headless bodies and feeling the shock of bombs in Iraq. “I think that the military experience had a lot to do with it,” his father said. “Mike was not like that.” His father, who said his son was under a supply command in the Guard, added that Mr. Gwinn had revealed in a postwar questionnaire that he thought he could hurt somebody. “They needed to give him some deep therapy if he said that,” Mr. Gwinn said.

62. Jeffrey Lehner
Santa Barbara, Calif.

Jeffrey M. Lehner, 42, a former Marine sergeant who had deployed to

Jeffrey Lehner

Afghanistan and elsewhere, shot and killed his 77-year-old father, Edwin A. Lehner, a retired pharmacist, and then turned the gun on himself in early December 2005 in Santa Barbara, Calif. After his return from Afghanistan, he was haunted by survivor’s guilt; a transport plane that he was supposed to be on crashed and killed eight of his fellow marines. He turned to drugs and alcohol to numb his pain. Mr. Lehner was being treated for combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder.

80. Rigoberto Nieves
Fort Bragg, N.C.

In June 2002, Rigoberto Nieves, a Special Forces soldier who left Afghanistan early to deal with personal problems, shot and killed his wife, Teresa, two days after returning home. He then turned the gun on himself. His wife’s family was in the house at the time of the murder-suicide. This was one of a cluster of four killings of military wives within a six-week period at Fort Bragg; three of the soldiers had returned from Afghanistan. The murders raised widespread concern about domestic violence in the military and about post-deployment stress.

84. Joshua Outlaw
Bolivia, N.C.

Joshua Cain Outlaw, 23, a Marine Corps veteran who had recently

Joshua Outlaw

returned from his third tour of duty in Iraq, shot and killed Angel Nicole Hutton Williams, 29, and her daughter, Asya Sabrina Jackson, 5, before turning his gun on himself in Brunswick County, N.C., in October.

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