A Fort Bragg paratrooper who went missing on a camping trip with fellow soldiers in May was decapitated, according to the findings of a recently released autopsy report.
What are the details?
Spc. Enrique Roman-Martinez, 21, from Chino, California, was a human resource specialist in the 82nd Airborne Division stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, when he disappeared during a Memorial Day weekend camping trip with friends at Cape Lookout National Seashore, CBS News reported. His partial remains washed ashore one week later, and his death was ruled a homicide.
The autopsy report, signed Nov. 4 from the Division of Forensic Pathology at East Carolina University's Brody School of Medicine, indicates that Roman-Martinez was murdered. But examiners were not able to determine the exact cause, because the young man had been decapitated and his head was the only remains recovered.
"While decapitation is, in and of itself, universally fatal, the remainder of the body in this case was not available for examination, and therefore potential causes of death involving the torso and extremities cannot be excluded," the report states. But it also pointed to other grisly details, such as "evidence of multiple chop injuries of the head," and a broken jaw in at least two places.
The News & Observer noted that a toxicology report showed that no evidence of drug use in the soldier's tissues.
Members of Roman-Martinez's family first read the report last week. His sister, Griselda Martinez, told The Fayetteville Observer that it was difficult to read the details from the report, including that her brother's hair had been pulled out and that his eyes were missing.
"It was such a brutal crime," she told the outlet. "Reading it and seeing how horrible it was..."
"Everything about this case doesn't make sense," she said. "Me and my family are left wondering. The biggest question is, 'Why?'"
Griselda told the Army Times that when her brother disappeared, he left behind his cellphone, wallet, and "the glasses he desperately needed." According to Griselda, there were roughly seven other soldiers on the camping trip with Roman-Martinez, but none of their names have been disclosed to the family.
What else happened on the trip?
The unidentified 911 caller who reported Roman-Martinez missing said the group looked for the soldier all day on May 23 when they woke up and discovered he was gone.
The Times reported:
However, early in the afternoon, Park Rangers encountered the group and asked them to move their vehicles, said Cape Lookout National Seashore spokesman B.G. Horvat. The group was parked too close to sand dunes, an important park resource, and asking them to move was a routine request.
"The Rangers moved on after hearing the group would comply ... [and] did not make mention to the Rangers at this point that anyone was missing from their group," Horvat said in an email. "You would have to ask members of the group why they didn't report a missing person then."
Investigators are still looking for clues to find out what happened to Roman-Martinez, whose remains were found near Mile Marker 53 on Shackleford Banks Island.
The Observer further noted:
Lt. Col. Mike Burns, an 82nd spokesman, said a $25,000 reward remains in place for information leading to the apprehension and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the murder. Anyone with information about the case is asked to call 910-396-8777, submit anonymous information via www.p3tips.com or contact a law enforcement agency.