UPDATED – Private Timothy E Bennitt has been charged with involuntary manslaughter among other things. The rest of the update at the bottom of the post.
Fort Lewis emergency personnel responded to a 911 early this past Sunday but very little information has been released to the media concerning the two teenage girls, one of whom was found dead at the scene.
The Army finally issued a statement concerning the incident on Monday afternoon. The U.S. Army told reporters that there was no signs of physical trauma on either girl and that although the Army would be performing an autopsy on the dead girl the results might not be available for a week or more. One of the reasons that they waited until Monday to release the information is because officials needed to notify the families and also because it was a holiday weekend.
The Army is currently trying to find out what the girls were doing in the barracks as well as whether drugs or alcohol played a part. They have said that it was possibly drug related. Obviously having teenage girls in a barracks at 3AM is a violation of visitation policies. I don’t know about the Army but visitors to Marine bases are supposed to be tracked.
Since the girls are both civilians and minors the Army is not releasing their names. The Fort
Lewis CID is investigating the cause of death and the circumstances surrounding the girl’s death. The family however has posted on the dead girl’s MySpace page that says “just so everyone knows, we have very few details about what happened to Leah. But what we know, we are not supposed to share just yet. after the investigation I will post a public blog and you can read it. Please try to keep the rumors down, as no one really knows exactly what happened right now. There will be a service for leah, but the date is unclear, I will post an update here as soon as I know. Thank you all for your thoughts and condolences. I am going to keep leah’s page up for memorial purposes, but her messages and stuff won’t be read or replied to so keep that in mind. thanks everyone.“.
Friends of Leah’s from school have posted comments in support of Leah and her family on her page. Later in the day after the first comment her sister posted another one. “to all of leah’s friends: Due to the amount of media and our need to be discreet with this sensative situation, we are not sure how public the funeral will be. We may have a funeral for family and family-friends only, and a memorial for her friends once media cools down. please say “no comment” to any questions you receive from press and media, as the details are still unknown.” Considering how much speculation goes on in the media and on blogs as well with how much teenagers gossip, very good advice.
Army investigators have questioned one soldier who is an acquaintance of both girls but they have made no arrests and are not releasing the soldier’s identity.
It’s most likely completely unrelated but two Fort Lewis soldiers are scheduled to be in court this morning on charges of robbery and assault after they held up and pistol whipped two University of Washington students back in January and then committed a robbery a week later. PFC Chad Braden and Private Robert Lucas were arrested along with a third soldier whose name has not been released. Seems like a bit more discipline needs to be the order of the day for some of our enlisted. That and maybe not so many damned waivers letting people in that don’t need to be there.
Updated – The U.S. Army has announced that as a result of it’s ongoing investigation Private 19-year-old Timothy E Bennitt from just outside of La Porte, Indiana has been charged with Involuntary Manslaughter, Distribution and Use of Controlled Substances and Conspiracy to Wrongfully Use Controlled Substances. The investigators suspected all along that drugs played a part in the death of Leah King and the toxicology reports showed that she died from a combination of Xanax and Opana.
Bennitt has also been accused of dealing drugs on base as well, although that is still under investigation.