For the third time in four months, a female soldier based at Fort Bragg is dead, and a husband or lover is charged with murder — leading critics to demand the home base of the Army's elite soldiers exert “control over their troops” and address domestic violence.
Police on Friday charged Sgt. Richard Smith, 26, and Pfc. Mathew Kvapil, 18, with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder only days after Smith's wife was found stabbed to death in a pool of her own blood.
Authorities said Smith hired Kvapil to kill his wife — 29-year-old Sgt. Christina Smith — as the couple walked together Tuesday in their off-base Fayetteville neighborhood.
“The number of military women being killed in North Carolina in the last eight months is horrific,” said retired Army Col. Ann Wright, a former State Department diplomat who once served at Fort Bragg and is now a peace activist. “The Marine Corps and the Army needs to very quickly show leadership and control over their troops.”
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Smith's death follows the slayings of Spc. Megan Touma, 23, and 2nd Lt. Holley Wimunc, 24. It also comes less than a year after Marine Corps. Cpl. Maria Lauterbach, stationed at Camp Lejeune, was found dead.
In all four cases, authorities have charged a fellow soldier or Marine involved in a relationship with the victim with murder.
“For me, I was thinking, ‘No, gosh, not another one,'” said Fayetteville police spokeswoman Theresa Chance. “We have domestic violence issues like every other city. Obviously, the military seems to be targeted lately.”
The Army says the rate of domestic violence in the service is no worse than among civilian families, but critics argue there is a lack of data.
Carol Darby, a spokeswoman for the Army's Special Operations Command, said the Army had no reason to be “overly concerned for (the) personal safety of female soldiers.”
“There are no indicators that we are aware of that pinpoints a trend; this is an anomaly,” she said