The Army Blotter: Grandma's EOD scare, SGT's New Year's gunplay, and arsonist's re-enlist deal, in the headlines

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  • Police say an EOD student at Eglin Air Force Base, Jose Chavez, 28, told his friend’s grandmother he’d put a homemade bomb under her house. When she locked herself inside, Chavez allegedly kicked her door in and dragged her out. When police arrived, he allegedly repeated the threat, and fought with them–ultimately  succumbing to their pepper spray and Tasers. A search later revealed no explosives. [via Dothan Eagle and WSFA-TV News]
  • Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s Sgt. Joseph Lee Winkelman, 25, was arrested at his in-laws’ home early New Year’s Day after after a string of alleged erratic behavior. Among other things, he allegedly entered a neighbor’s house after midnight on New Year’s uninvited and brandished a handgun, saying, “I’m in the military, I’m big and bad and wanted to make it known that I’m your neighbor,” court papers state. The neighbor was able to grab the handgun and strip the magazine. Winkelman had allegedly fired an entire clip into the air at midnight. [via The Olympian]
  • An Indiana ex-soldier facing charges that could imprison him for decades has offered to re-enlist if the charges are dropped–but prosecutors won’t bite. Matthew R. Whittenburg, 20, allegedly went on a crime spree in late November and early December, breaking into two homes  and trying to burglarize a third, along with setting fire to one burglary victim’s pickup truck and stealing other vehicles, tools and gasoline. A prosecutor called the proposal unsuitable for “anything this serious.” [via The Star Press]
  • The Army is assembling a special board to evaluate the mental state of Pfc. Bradley Manning, who is being held on charges that he illegally obtained thousands of classified documents and turned them over to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks in what might be the biggest security breach in U.S. history. [via The Washington Times]
  • John Wheeler III, 66, was a West Point-trained Vietnam War vet who spent the last three years of the George W. Bush administration as a top Air Force official working on highly sensitive projects like cyber-warfare that could be used against adversaries like Iran. Sometime last week, someone murdered Wheeler, authorities said, and apparently threw his body in a Dumpster. The cause of death is still being investigated. [via The Philadelphia Daily News]
  • A 25-year-old Florida arms dealer arrested in arrested in 2008 on charges of selling $10.3 million in banned Chinese ammunition to the U.S. Army to supply Afghan forces, faces up to five years in prison at sentencing in Miami federal court Monday following his 2009 guilty plea to a conspiracy charge. [via Miami Herald]
  • Fort Campbell soldier Marc T. Staley, 47, allegedly skinned his wife’s dog in a bathtub and handed its body to her in a bag. Staley, charged with animal cruelty, was released on $2,000 bail, on the condition that he not have any contact with her or with animals. [via The Examiner]
  • Fort Campbell soldier Aaron Will has been charged with impersonating a police officer after allegedly used police lights and sirens to get other drivers to move out of his way. Police caught up with Will after he tried to pull over a real off-duty Clarksville policeman. [via WSMV-TV News]
  • Police found a body of a soldier on a trail at Fort Bragg, but have yet to release the soldier’s identity or say how the soldier died. [via WRAL-TV News]
  • The Army has set a hearing at Fort Bragg later this month for the second soldier charged in connection with the death of a 19-year-old medic, Spc. Morganne McBeth. On Jan. 24, Spc. Nicholas Bailey, 23, will face an Article 32 hearing–similar to a preliminary hearing or grand jury proceeding in civilian courts–for charges of involuntary manslaughter, obstruction of justice and giving false statements to investigators. [via The Free Lance-Star]
  • Army Reservist from Missouri faces up to ten years in prison, after pleading guilty to embezzling $30,000 from the Defense Financing and Accounting Office. Prosecutors say that while Robert Briggs, 50, was stationed at Fort McPherson, Ga., and St. Louis in 2004 and 2005, he established a  fictitious address in Long Beach, Calif., and submitted false travel, lodging and furniture receipts. When he was stationed at Fort Hood, Tex., in late 2006, he submitted vouchers for a fictitious leasing company, for two thousand dollars more a month than his actual rent. [via KMOX Radio]
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