Military Wife Slayings Spur Review
Military Wife Slayings Spur Review
Jul. 27, 2002
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FORT BRAGG, N.C. (AP) _ Four Army wives at Fort Bragg have been killed over the past six weeks, allegedly by their husbands, prompting the Army to announce Friday it will re-evaluate the base's family counseling program.
``It's mind-boggling,'' said Henry Berry, manager of family advocacy programs at Fort Bragg. ``To be absolutely honest, I was completely caught off guard. We're going to look at these cases to prevent them from happening in the future.''
Two Fort Bragg soldiers killed their wives in murder-suicides, and two others were charged with murdering their wives. Three of the soldiers were from the Army's Special Operations and had just returned from Afghanistan; the fourth was from an airborne unit and had not been sent into action.
Counselors are available in the field for Special Operations troops, and soldiers are counseled before they leave on assignment and before they return home, said Col. Jerome Haberek, chaplain for the Army Special Operations units at Fort Bragg.
Until the recent murders, base officials said no domestic abuse deaths involving base personnel had occurred in the past two years.
The string of family deaths, which all occurred off the base, started June 11 when Sgt. 1st Class Rigoberto Nieves fatally shot his wife, Teresa, and himself in their Fayetteville bedroom. Nieves, who had been back from Afghanistan just two days, had recently requested leave to resolve personal problems, officials said.
Sheriff's investigators said Jennifer Wright was strangled June 29. Her husband, Master Sgt. William Wright, reported her missing two days later. On July 19, he led investigators to her body, buried in a shallow grave in a field near Fayetteville, and was charged with murder.
Wright, who had been back from Afghanistan for about a month, had recently moved out of the family's house and was living in the barracks.
``He was like my own child,'' Jennifer Wright's mother, Wilma Watson, said from her home in Mason, Ohio. ``Until he came back from Afghanistan, I didn't worry about violence. He was getting these attacks of rage. She was afraid of him. I begged her to come home. She still loved him.''
On the same day that Wright was arrested, Sgt. 1st Class Brandon Floyd shot his wife, Andrea, then killed himself in their Stedman home.
The Fayetteville Observer reported that Floyd was a member of Delta Force, the secretive anti-terrorism unit based at Fort Bragg. He returned from Afghanistan in January.
``I truly in my heart believe that his training was such that if you can't control it, you kill it,'' Penny Flitcraft, Andrea Floyd's mother, told The Review of Alliance, Ohio.
In the fourth case, Sgt. Cedric Ramon Griffin was charged with stabbing his estranged wife, Marilyn, at least 50 times and setting her home on fire July 9. Griffin was in an engineering battalion.
Fort Bragg is the Army's headquarters for Special Forces and Special Operations soldiers. It has sent hundreds of soldiers into the fight against terrorism.
Haberek said he does not believe Special Operations troops are under any more stress than anyone else. ``Our guys are very professional. They recognize they can't do everything alone,'' Haberek said.
Maj. Gary Kolb, a spokesman for the Army Special Operations Command, said it would be a reach to link the family killings to Afghanistan.
Yvonne Qualantone, president of the 3rd Special Forces Group's Family Readiness Group, said more families than usual have called the counseling group since the killings.
Some women who have had problems with their husbands have called, asking about someone to talk to before things get worse, she said.