From: The Telegraph
A spate of wife-killing involving Afghanistan campaign veterans returning to their Special Forces base at Fort Bragg in North Carolina yesterday prompted a US Army review of its family counselling services.
In a series of murders that began on June 11, three of the four soldiers who allegedly killed their wives at the base had returned from combat units in Afghanistan.
There has also been a steep rise in domestic violence at Fort Bragg, according to a support group for wives at the base, who have reported a large number of calls for help.
In two of the fatal incidents, the men committed suicide after killing their wives, while two soldiers, both non-commissioned officers, have been charged with murder by the civilian authorities.
All four cases involved troubled marriages and sexual jealousy, according to an officer at the base yesterday.
There had been no domestic killings within the Fort Bragg garrison, which includes the Delta Force special forces troops, for more than two years until the men began returning from Afghanistan duty.
Henry Berry, the manager of family programmes at the base, said: "It's mind-boggling. To be absolutely honest, I was completely caught off guard. We're going to look at these cases to prevent similar cases happening in the future."
Major Gary Kolb, spokesman for the Special Forces Command, said yesterday that Col Tad Davis, the Fort Bragg garrison commander who is in charge of day to day life at the sprawling, closely guarded base, had launched a review to see if more could be done to help soldiers make the transition back to domestic life after combat.
"It's very much a tragedy. I wish it were easy to pinpoint one thing and say it will never happen again," said Major Kolb.
The string of killings began on June 11, when Sgt Rigoberto Nieves shot his wife Teresa and then himself at his off-base home in Fayetteville, the nearest city to Fort Bragg. Nieves had been back from Afghanistan for just two days after requesting special leave for personal problems.
On June 29, according to the local sheriff's office, Master Sgt William Wright strangled his wife Jennifer. Two days later, he reported her missing. On July 19 he led detectives to her body, which he had buried in a shallow grave, and was charged with murder.
Wright had been back from the combat zone for a month. Since returning, however, he had moved out of his family home into bachelor quarters on the base.
His mother-in-law, Wilma Watson, at her home in Ohio, said her daughter had been raising the alarm about his behaviour. "Until he came home from Afghanistan, I didn't worry about violence. He was getting these attacks of rage. She was afraid of him," she said.
On July 19, the day that Wright was arrested, Brandon Floyd, a Delta Force sergeant, shot his wife Andrea and then himself in their home in nearby Stedman.
Mrs Floyd's mother, Penny Flitcraft, said that there had been rising tension in the marriage since Sgt Floyd's return from Afghanistan in January, and that jealousy had turned him into a "control freak". "I truly in my heart believe that his training was such that [he believed] if you can't control it, kill it," she said.
The fourth killing came on July 9. Sgt Cedric Griffin has been charged with murder, and is accused of stabbing his estranged wife Marilyn at least 50 times before setting the house on fire.
No clear links have emerged between the spate of murders and the men's recent combat experiences. The chaplain for the Special Operations Unit, Col Jerome Haberak, is, however, adamant that "our Special Forces are not under any more stress than other personnel".