QUANTICO, Va. –
The U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID) is offering a reward of up to $50,000 for credible information concerning the circumstances surrounding the death of Spc. Enrique Roman-Martinez of Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Partial remains of the 82nd Airborne Division paratrooper were found near Cape Lookout National Seashore, May 29, 2020.
The remains washed up on Shackleford Banks Island, part of the Cape Lookout National Seashore, an area where the prevailing tides have unfortunately washed ashore remains in years past. A positive identification was made using the Soldier’s dental records and DNA. Roman-Martinez, 21, was camping with seven fellow Soldiers and was last seen May 22, 2020, at a campsite near Mile Marker 46 on South Core Banks, one of the islands that make up Cape Lookout National Seashore.
Roman-Martinez’s friends reported him missing the evening of May 23, 2020.
His phone, wallet and glasses were found at the campsite and he was last seen wearing blue shorts and no shirt. Agents have investigated suspected illegal drug use on the evening of May 22, 2020. Since Roman-Martinez was reported missing, Army CID Special Agents have conducted a significant amount of investigative work in coordination with numerous other agencies, to include the FBI, the National Park Rangers, the U.S. Coast Guard Marine Patrol, the Mocksville Police Department, the Carteret County Sheriff’s Office, the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office, the North Carolina National Guard, the Armed Forces Medical Examiner and the 82nd Airborne Division.
Army CID agents have been working closely with these agencies to conduct an extensive death investigation, according to CID Special Agent Steve Chancellor, who is spearheading the investigation. “We are increasing the reward in the hopes of developing new credible leads to determine exactly what happened to our Soldier. We do not want to leave any stone unturned.” A specialized Task Force was created for the investigation, comprised of CID Special Agents, FBI personnel and the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit.
To date, the Task Force has executed more than 100 warrants and subpoenas, conducted more than 400 interviews and returned to the island seven times to conduct extensive air, land and sea searches while looking for additional evidence. Task Force personnel have also traveled to Michigan, Texas, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Colorado, and California for interviews and to follow up on any and all investigative leads.
In addition, the FBI sent two dive teams to conduct extensive searches of the area, while providing additional information relating to the waters surrounding the island. According to Chancellor, the Task Force has not recovered a single piece of physical, forensic, or testimonial evidence linking anyone to the death of Roman-Martinez. This includes searches of all digital evidence from cell phones, vehicles and more than 130 items of potential evidence submitted to the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory in Atlanta, Georgia. None of the items revealed any trace of blood, DNA, or other forensic evidence. In total, agents examined more than five terabytes of digital data.
I have been a criminal investigator for more than 40 years and have worked hundreds of death investigations,” said Chancellor. “This tragic death is a real mystery on what exactly happened. All logical theories or suspicions that were developed to date have been investigated and either discounted or disproven. We have and are still looking at all possibilities, but need the public’s help.” According to Chancellor, agents have continued to investigate this as a homicide to ensure a complete and thorough investigation and because of the nature of the trauma to the partial remains that washed ashore. “Please understand that homicide basically means that someone’s death was caused by someone else,” explained Chancellor.
“That means that the death could have been intentional or it could have been unintentional – for example in this case, someone running over someone with a boat while the person was in the water, etc.” “We have received tremendous support from the leadership at Fort Bragg and have been granted every type of support we have requested for this investigation,” Chancellor added. “This has included air support, troops to conduct visual land searches and other types of support.” Army CID and the FBI are strongly encouraging asking anyone with information to please come forward. If you were operating a boat in that area the night of May 22-23, 2020 and recall possibly hitting something in the water, or if you have any other information, regardless of how trivial it might seem, we want you to come forward, said Chancellor.
Anyone with information is encouraged to contact Army CID Special Agents at 910-396-8777 or the Fort Bragg Military Police Desk at 910-396-1179. Information can be reported anonymously to ► Army CID: Submit a Tip Now.
Persons wishing to remain anonymous will be honored to the degree allowable under the law and the information will be held in the strictest confidence allowable. The payout of cash rewards to military and federal employees for information leading to the conviction of person(s) involved is contingent upon the accuracy and value of information provided, and the actions taken based upon that information. No additional information is being released at this time to protect the integrity of the investigation.