Soldier found dead on post 3 weeks after he went missing; mother says Army failed to look for him

A Fort Hood soldier who was previously thought missing from post was discovered to have been rotting for three weeks near his wrecked car- which was still on post.

19-year-old infantryman Private Dakota Stump was presumably driving back to work from a break following a 30-day field exercise when he lost control of his vehicle, likely due to speeding.

“The [Criminal Investigation Command] said that it looked like a very, very bad accident, and it looked like he was going back to his motor pool and he went left instead of right,” said Patrice Wise, Stump’s mother.

Wise has been scouring their home state of Indiana with friends and family in search of her son, who was preparing to go to Ranger school. Despite reports from Stump’s brother Dustin regarding drinking and frustration with army life, Stump’s mother said that her son wasn’t the type to take his own life or abandon his duties.

“We didn’t think Dakota would ever go AWOL or commit suicide or just take off, because he was just going to work,” his mother said. “He was very excited about the Army. A lot of people reached out to me and he told us when he was home in September that he was pretty excited about getting into Ranger school.”

According to KCENT, investigators told the Private’s mother that his cellphone had pinged towers back in Indiana during the five days before the battery died.

“And the whole time he was laying in the woods, and nobody would go look,” she said. “He knew going into this that he could be giving his life for all of us, and they couldn’t even go look for him. We were told that we were taking time away from their training.”

Officials told Wise that the area of post where her son was found was the responsibility of a unit that was out of state on training and could not search.

“And then they called me Friday to try to basically bullshit their way out of that wrong ping,” she said. “They said they get wrong pings sometimes, and the lead investigator explained that his wife could be calling from Virginia but it would show up as in Connecticut.”

According to investigators, Stump was ejected from his vehicle after it had rolled several times and the crash scene was not visible from the road.

“Our thoughts and condolences go to Pvt. Stump’s family during this trying time,” spokesman Tyler Broadway said in a statement to one media publication. “Unfortunately, we are unable to offer a comment on issues pertaining to an ongoing investigation.”

Stump’s body was autopsied Friday by an Office of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, and Wise and her family met with a Casualty Assistance officer on Monday.

“I’m just trying to bring my child home,” she said. “I can’t even make his arrangements until I know when he’s going to come home so we’re just sitting here waiting on the Army to do something.”

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  • Andy Wolf

    Andy Wolf is an Appalachian native who spent much of his youth and young adulthood overseas in search of combat, riches, and adventure- accruing decades of experience in military, corporate, first responder, journalistic and advisory roles. He resides in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains with his K9 companion, Kiki.

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