Curtis Krueger, a U.S. Marine communications officer, and his partner, Ashlie Stapp, are accused in the death of a 54-year-old amateur radio operator whose body was discovered buried in a makeshift grave in California’s Joshua Tree National Park.
The arrests of Krueger and Stapp have led to a series of other accusations involving the Twentynine Palms, California, military base, including, according to Newsweek, the possibility that a drug ring is operating in the area involving drug-laced Sour Patch kids. There is no indication or allegation that Krueger and Stapp are linked to those accusations, however.
Some news sites gave Stapp’s name as Nicole Ashlie Stapp. Stapp and Krueger are accused in the slaying of controversial HAM radio operator, Henry Stange.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Stange’s Partially Covered Remains Were Discovered in June 2018 But the Couple Was Not Arrested Until August
On June 2, 2018, The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department assisted the National Park Service “with investigating a shallow grave site that contained partially covered human remains in Joshua Tree National Park,” a press release from the Murrieta Police Department in California reads. “The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department assumed the investigation and identified the deceased as Henry Stange (54 years old).”
The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department conducted a follow up investigation “on the 24000 block on New Clay Street in the City of Murrieta. A crime scene was discovered and the Murrieta Police Department took over the investigation,” the release continues.
On August 29, 2018, the Murrieta Police Department with the assistance of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department “arrested Curtis Krueger (30 years old) and Ashlie Stapp (27 years old) in 29 Palms, CA in connection with the death of Mr. Stange. Krueger and Stapp were booked at the Cois Byrd Detention Center for 187 PC, Homicide and 182(a)(1), Conspiracy,” says the release.
“This investigation is ongoing and the Murrieta Police Department requests that anyone with any information related to this investigation to please contact Detective Sergeant Spencer Parker at (951) 461-6364.”
No further details were released, including how Krueger and Stapp allegedly knew Stange or what the motive for his death might be.
2. Krueger Was a Communications Offer in the Marine Corps
A May 2018 photo on the website of the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center shows Curtis Krueger and his wife, Ashlie Stapp. It was taken by Lance Cpl. Margaret Gale in Twentynine Palms.
“1st. Lt. Curtis Krueger, communications officer, Combat Logistics Battalion 7, demonstrates how to apply camouflage paint on his wife, Ashlie Stapp, during the unit’s Jane Wayne Day aboard the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif., May 10, 2018,” the caption reads.
“Jane Wayne Day gave the spouses a glimpse into the day-to-day lives of their active duty spouses through the combat convoy simulator, a live-fire range and a combat fitness test.”
On LinkedIn, Krueger identified himself as “Communications Officer, United States Marine Corps,” and gave his time of employment as 2005 to present and his location as California. He wrote that he studied computer science programming at San Diego State University and had a 3.4 grade point average.
3. Stange’s Loved Ones Say Their Lives Will Never Be the Same & He Was Controversial in HAM Radio Circles
A loved one posted a tribute to Henry Allen Stange on Facebook. Judy Stange Gardner wrote on Facebook of Stange, “He was a son, a father, a brother, a cousin and a friend to many. He was murdered the last week of May, his remains were found in the desert- near Joshua Tree, in California. Our lives will never be the same. If you know anything, please contact Murietta PD. Henry Allen Stange.”
Everyone wasn’t his fan, however. A web page online is devoted to criticizing Stange and contains photos that are supposedly of his modest living arrangements. “This site is dedicated to expose the lies that Henry A. Stange (WA6RXZ – KG6EBF) has been broadcasting over the past two years on 147.435MHz about his supposed lifestyle,” it reads. “Remember his claims of living in ‘god’s country’ just houses away from Hollywood notables such as Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger?” The page then goes on to show photos supposedly showing a modest living environment. There is also an online poll devoted to whether Stange would get his kids in a divorce. One choice was given as “Don’t Care, Hope He Dies In A Fire.”
Stange appears to have been fairly well known in HAM radio circles. One man posted a phone call in which he was seeking to verify Stange’s death online. A photo of Stange was posted on a Facebook page described as “A PLACE TO REMEMBER LOST LOVED ONES, FRIENDS, FAMILY MEMBERS THAT LOVED OR TALKED ON THE RADIO!”
On June 13, 2018, a post devoted to Stange read, “WA6RXZ – Henry Allen Stange RIP.” There are also YouTube videos online that purport to capture Stange talking on the radio and doing different antics, some of which caused controversy online.
One site, QRZ.com, posted a tribute to Stange. “Henry Allen Stange WA6RXZ, a much loved and respected amateur operator in the Southern California area is now a silent key. Henry was known by many VHF operators as someone who loved to tell silly jokes and funny stories you would always remember,” it reads.
“Henry was also a talented guitar player and his talent was demonstrated at many local amateur radio events. It always seemed Henry was around when you were looking for someone to talk to or to tell you one of his funny stories. Henry also had a passion for building antennas and sharing his knowledge with fellow operators.”
Stange’s call sign was WA6RXZ, according to his radio license. He once received a warning notice from the FCC; it appears to have been a letter asking Stange not to use someone else’s repeater or signal booster.
One website claimed, “Amateur Radio Station… tracked a jamming signal on the 146.235mhz KG6YPA repeater to the address of one Henry Stange WA6RXZ.” Another read, “Enjoy this man argue for hours on end like a child!”
Online comments and videos showed that some anger existed toward Stange. “…Henry Stange touch tone jamming. Once banned from the 435 repeater he continues his bull sh*t,” reads the caption on a video. Here’s another photo of him. It’s tagged with his call sign.
One blog reads, “Henry Stange (WA6RXZ) was a source of drama and comedy over at the 147.435 MHz 2 meter amateur (‘ham’) radio repeater in Los Angeles and also the 70 centimeter K9KAO repeater on 449.500 MHz, from which he was banned from operating on.” This site has a tribute to Stange with some photos.
According to the Daily Bulletin, Stange had some personal problems. “In 2017, his mother-in-law obtained a restraining order against him, his wife filed for divorce and another person sought a domestic-violence restraining order against Stange before the case was dismissed,” the site says. One of the restraining orders is online.
It appears from his divorce case that he had two children. The case was still pending in mid August 2018 and involved domestic violence accusations, according to online court records reviewed by Heavy. The couple was married in 1998 and separated in 2017. In 2017, Stange was accused of violating a court domestic violence order, court records showed, and he was given probation and community service. Two other people sought restraining orders against him, court records showed.
4. Bail Was Set at $1 Million for Both Stapp & Krueger
Bail for each defendant was set at $1 million. According to ABC 7, Stapp was arrested “on the campus of Copper Mountain Community College in Joshua Tree.”
Stapp appears to have a prior arrest dating to 2012.
According to Newsweek, Krueger is “a Marine Corps communications officer assigned to Combat Logistics Battalion-7, a unit that falls under 1st Marine Logistics Group.” Newsweek alleged based on anonymous sources that authorities confiscated Krueger’s items, including “a foldable shovel used for digging combat fighting holes” and that Stange died from blunt-force trauma to the head.
5. A Story Alleges There is a ‘Command Crisis’ at the Marine Base
The Newsweek story mentioned the Stange murder but deals with a lot of other allegations, which authorities have not yet confirmed.
“Conspiracy charges relating to a murder. A drug ring selling Sour Patch Kids candy laced with LSD and heroin. Male U.S. Marines stalking female Marines, some of whom say they feel unsafe in their own barracks rooms,” the story begins, outlining a litany of accusations. Again, the story does not allege that Stange or Krueger are linked to anything but the homicide.