Dive teams, special agents return to Outer Banks in case of slain paratrooper

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Army Criminal Investigation Command agents and members of the FBI’s Evidence Recovery and Dive Teams are currently conducting searches near the Cape Lookout National Seashore in North Carolina as part of the investigation into the death of Spc. Enrique Roman-Martinez, 21.

Roman-Martinez, an 82nd Airborne Division paratrooper out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, was reported missing May 23 while on a Memorial Day weekend camping trip with fellow soldiers.

About one week later, Roman-Martinez’s head washed ashore on Shackleford Banks Island and his death was classified a homicide. A positive ID was made through dental records. Later, an autopsy determined there was evidence of multiple chop injuries to his head and his jaw was broken in at least two places.

Few details were provided Thursday about what caused Army CID agents and FBI personnel to return to the Cape Lookout area. Other 82nd Airborne Division troops are also supporting the effort, according to the unit.

Griselda Martinez, the older sister of the slain paratrooper, said she’s worried that any searches of the waters would be coming far too late.

“I don’t find it promising … it’s been [seven] months of rough waters and hurricanes,” Griselda told Army Times. “Personally I feel this should’ve been done earlier. … I hope by some slim miracle they find something.”

An FBI dive team prepares to search a lake in San Bernadino, California, for evidence in connection with a fatal shooting in December 2015. FBI divers are now at Cape Lookout National Seashore in North Carolina to search for evidence in the suspected homicide of Army Spc. Enrique Roman-Martinez in May. (Jae C. Hong/AP)

Chris Grey, a spokesman for Army CID, said that his department was grateful for the specialized skills the FBI was bringing to the search effort.

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“Our Special Agents continue to work closely with several Federal and local agencies on this investigation,” Grey said in a statement. “We are aggressively investigating the death of this Soldier and will not stop until we bring those responsible to justice.”

Earlier this summer, Griselda also told Army Times about the inconsistencies that have surrounded her brother’s case.

Roman-Martinez was camping with fellow soldiers at the time of his death. Those soldiers called police at about 7:30 p.m. on May 23, saying they spent the entire day searching for both Roman-Martinez and local authorities after he disappeared sometime the night prior.

“When we woke up, he was not here and we’ve been looking for him all day,” an unidentified caller told a 911 dispatcher in a recording obtained by Army Times. “We were trying to find a park ranger or their offices, or anything, and so we went all the way to the ferry and found that we needed to dial 911.”

However, early in the afternoon on May 23, 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. Asking them to move was a routine request, Horvat said.

“The rangers moved on after hearing the group would comply … [and they] did not make mention to the rangers at this point that anyone was missing from their group,” Horvat added. “You would have to ask members of the group why they didn’t report a missing person then.”

The unidentified 911 caller also said the group was “afraid [Martinez] might’ve hurt himself.” Though he was undiagnosed, the group claimed he had “suicidal tendencies,” an allegation Griselda Martinez disputed this summer.

She also doubted that her brother, who had poor eyesight, would leave the camp in the middle of the night with no cell phone, flashlight or the glasses he depends upon.

“If you believe your friend has suicidal tendencies, why would you let them walk off in the middle of the night with no belongings?” Griselda said in a July interview with Army Times. “Why wouldn’t you, first thing in the morning, wake up and freak out? … On top of that, why would you wait all day, until 7:30 p.m. to report him missing?”

Army CID is offering a reward of up to $25,000 for credible information leading to the apprehension and conviction of those responsible for Roman-Martinez’s death.

Anyone with information is encouraged to contact Army CID Special Agents at (910) 396-8777, the Military Police Desk at (910) 396-1179 or submit information via https://www.p3tips.com/.

Persons with information can remain anonymous, according to Army CID.

About

Kyle is a staff reporter for Military Times, focusing on the U.S. Army. He served an enlistment as an Air Force Special Tactics CCT and JTAC.

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