Update: Family members have told WCNC Charlotte that Pfc. Asia Graham was sexually assaulted by another soldier while stationed at Fort Bliss.
Her family says Graham reported the assault to the Army but her mother says the military failed to protect her.
Graham completed her training and was stationed at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas in December 2019 and was allegedly assaulted the same month
An investigation is underway after a young Fort Bliss soldier was found dead in her barracks on New Year’s Eve.
Pfc. Asia M. Graham, 19, was found unresponsive in her barracks room Thursday and was pronounced dead by emergency personnel, a Fort Bliss news release stated.
Fort Bliss was Graham’s first duty station. She had been at the Army post for a year.
U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command special agents conducting the investigation do not suspect foul play and the manner of death is pending autopsy results, the 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss Public Affairs Office said in a statement Monday.
Graham was from Cherryville, North Carolina. She joined the Army in Charlotte in July 2019 and arrived at Fort Bliss in December of that year after completing basic and advanced individual training, the military said.
Graham was a human resource specialist assigned to the 1-501st Attack Battalion, 1st Armored Division Combat Aviation Brigade.
“The Iron Eagle team is deeply saddened by the loss of our friend and teammate. We send our deepest condolences and prayers to her friends and loved ones,” Col. Geoffrey Whittenberg, 1st Armored Division Combat Aviation Brigade commander, said in a statement.
“Pfc. Graham was a valued member of the Iron Eagle team and did an outstanding job for this Battalion,” Whittenberg said. “Her loss is felt not just in our formations but across the Army. We lost a skilled human resource specialist who wanted nothing more than to serve her country and her battle buddies.”
The New Year’s Eve death ends a 2020 with high-profile troubles tied to Fort Bliss, including the mysterious disappearance of 21-year-old Pvt. Richard Halliday, who has been missing since July.
Halliday’s parents suspect foul play in their son’s disappearance and have been having rallies outside Fort Bliss for several months.
Fort Bliss was Halliday’s first duty station. He was assigned to the 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command. The Army initially classified Halliday as AWOL, but his status is now listed as “missing.”
“My condolences right now and my sadness goes out to her,” Halliday’s mother, Patricia Halliday, said in a video posted Monday, referring to Graham’s mother. Patricia Halliday said she spoke with Graham’s mother and added she hopes authorities do a thorough investigation.
“I can’t imagine what she’s feeling,” Patricia Halliday added.
Murders, shooting tied to soldiers
The New Year’s Eve death was part of a difficult 2020 that included at least two homicides and an attack on police linked to soldiers at Fort Bliss.
Last summer, a Fort Bliss soldier was arrested after being accused of killing his estranged wife and hiding her body in a storage closet in an apartment in East El Paso.
On June 3, Spc. Linwood James Smith, 22, was arrested on a murder charge in connection with the death of 21-year-old Kerica Robinson, whom a friend had reported missing a week prior.
After allegedly being caught in several lies, Smith claimed self-defense, telling El Paso police investigators he shot Robinson when she allegedly attacked him with a knife, according to a criminal complaint.
In a separate incident in June, a Fort Bliss soldier was arrested after being accused of firing a semi-automatic rifle at El Paso police responding to a 911 domestic disturbance call at a Northeast home. During the shooting, an officer was wounded and two others barely escaped injury.
Alexander Eugene Jeffery, 29, faces three counts of aggravated assault.
Army captain’s murder case
In October, a Fort Bliss Army captain was arrested on a murder charge, accused of directing a vehicular assault that killed her Army officer boyfriend in a fiery crash on an El Paso street.
Capt. Clevy Muchette Nelson-Royster is accused of urging a driver to ram her boyfriend’s car, resulting in the death of Capt. Malcolm Xavier Perry off Zaragoza Road. Perry, 27, crashed while on the phone with 911.
Nelson-Royster, 27, was the head of Echo Forward Support Company, a logistics unit with the 1-501st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion.
Richard Mustapha Sennessie, 23, who allegedly was driving Nelson-Royster’s Jeep Wrangler and rammed Perry’s Audi A4 sedan, also was charged with murder. Sennessie is not in the military and works as an office administrator for a home-health care company, according to a police report.
The criminal cases are all pending in court.
(c)2021 the El Paso Times (El Paso, Texas)
Visit the El Paso Times (El Paso, Texas) at www.elpasotimes.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.