Army: Lewis-McChord soldiers kept killed civilians' body parts

Army: Lewis-McChord soldiers kept killed civilians' body parts »Play Video
Spc. Adam Winfield (left), Spc. Michael Wagnon (center), and Spc. Jeremy Morlock (right).
SEATTLE -- At least two of the five Army soldiers charged in the deaths of three Afghan civilians had kept body parts taken from Afghan corpses, according to new documents released by the Army on Wednesday.

Five soldiers - Staff Sgt. Calvin R. Gibbs, Spc. Adam C. Winfield, Spc. Jeremy Morlock and Spc. Michael S. Wagnon, II, Pfc. Andrew Holmes - have been charged with premeditated murder. The soldiers are accused of killing three civilians using guns and grenades, even though they faced no immediate threat.

Gibbs, the most senior of the charged members, was found in possession of "finger bones, leg bones and a tooth taken from Afghan corpses," charging papers said, and Wagnon was found with a skull taken from an Afghan corpse.

Investigators said Morlock and Gibbs, in an attempt to derail the investigation, displayed the finger bones while threatening to kill another man "if he spoke about hashish use within the platoon to command and law enforcement authorities," the document said.

Gibbs is also accused of instructing a soldier to "lie to CID investigators when questioned about (his) platoon's involvement in drug use and the unlawful killings of Afghan non-combatants," the document said. Investigators said Gibbs also threatened the soldier by saying, "I'm going to send you home by dropping a tow bar on you." Holmes and Winfield have been charged with wrongful use of hashish.

Detectives allege Wagnon tried to get rid of evidence in the case by "obtaining a computer hard drive, and asking another soldier to erase incriminating evidence from the hard drive," his charging paper said.

Gibbs' laywer has said Gibb denies having taken any part in the alleged conspiracy. Gibbs was deployed to the Forward Operating Base in Ramrod, Afghanistan to find and dispose of grenades.

A Joint Base spokeswoman has said charges filed against Morlock involve three separate incidents between January and May; however, it was not clear whether all charged soldiers are accused in all three incidents.

Seven other members of the Army unit based at Lewis-McChord have been under investigation for the Afghan civilian deaths, but only the five mentioned above have been charged with premeditated murder.