pitts.jpg Pitts: "I wish I was dead."

More than 120 murders in the U.S., including nine in Western Washington, were commited by veterans of the Iraq


Murders on the Home Front Involve 9 WA Military

pitts.jpg Pitts: "I wish I was dead."

More than 120 murders in the U.S., including nine in Western Washington, were commited by veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the New York Times reported yesterday. The only surprise about that is the low number. As Seattle Weekly reported two years ago, there were already seven homicides and three suicides on Western Washington soil involving active troops or veterans of Iraq, based on an accounting of medical examiner, military, and news reports. Since that story ran, there have been six other homicides involving Washington soldiers, all of them Army war veterans from Fort Lewis.

The Washington Home Front killers include Kenneth Baginski, who fired a shot through the wall of his Tacoma home, killing a neighbor; Brandon Bare, who stabbed his Tacoma wife to death after suspecting her of cheating on him; Matthew Deni of Battle Ground, Clark County, who killed his wife after she said she was leaving him; Godfrey Hurley, who faces murder charges for stabbing to death a fellow soldier's wife on the Fort Lewis base; Michael Antonio Jordan convicted in the kidnapping that led to the Fort Lewis death of his former Army roommate; Jeremy T. Lamb, a Marine convicted in a King County vehicular homicide; Jamaal A. Lewis, who killed two people outside a Lakewood tavern; Brent A. Myers, convicted in the drunk driving death of an Olympia man; and James Kevin Pitts, who drowned his wife in a bathtub at their Lakewood home.

The Times found 121 such cases across the U.S. In many instances, combat trauma and the stress of deployment -- along with alcohol abuse, family discord and other attendant problems -- appear to have set the stage for a tragedy that was part destruction, part self-destruction. Said the Times:

Three-quarters of these veterans were still in the military at the time of the killing. More than half the killings involved guns, and the rest were stabbings, beatings, strangulations and bathtub drownings. Twenty-five offenders faced murder, manslaughter or homicide charges for fatal car crashes resulting from drunken, reckless or suicidal driving.

About a third of the victims were spouses, girlfriends, children or other relatives, among them 2-year-old Krisiauna Calaira Lewis, whose 20-year-old father slammed her against a wall when he was recuperating in Texas from a bombing near Falluja that blew off his foot and shook up his brain. A quarter of the victims were fellow service members...

Thirteen of the veterans took their own lives after the killings, and two more were fatally shot by the police. Several more attempted suicide or expressed a death wish. As we reported in 2005, Pitts, who drowned his wife in Lakewood just weeks after returning from Iraq, told a judge: "I wish I was dead." After he was sentenced to 20 years, his father recalled that after his son returned from Iraq, "All he could talk about was how many people he killed over there and how easy he could do it."

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