A missing Fort Bragg soldier who disappeared from a camping trip with fellow troops on Memorial Day weekend and whose partial remains washed ashore 10 days after he was reported missing was decapitated.
A recently released autopsy report from the Division of Forensic Pathology at East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine reported a gruesome and brutal end for Enrique Roman-Martinez that raised even more questions about what happened to the 21-year-old Army Specialist.
According to The Fayetteville Observer, “The autopsy examined a severed head, as neither the torso nor any extremities were available, according to the report. It showed evidence of multiple chop injuries, a broken jaw, cuts, and a fractured cervical spine.”
What’s more, since only the head of the murdered soldier was found, the medical examiner could not verify that decapitation was the cause of death, writing in the report, “the remainder of the body, in this case, was not available for examination, and therefore potential causes of death involving the torso and extremities cannot be excluded,” the Fayetteville Observer reported.
7 People Were Camping With Roman-Martinez When He Went Missing But They Didn’t Report Him as Missing for 17 Hours
The mystery of what happened to the young soldier is ongoing. According to Military Murder Podcast, Roman-Martinez was camping with seven other people when he “seemingly walked away from the group at midnight, never to return to his tent… The group of soldiers noticed he was missing early the next morning, and reported him missing 17 hours after Enrique had last been seen.”
The group had taken a ferry to Cape Lookout National Seashore to camp for the long weekend when Roman-Martinez disappeared, and where his head ultimately washed up 10 days later at Shackleford Banks, the United States Army Criminal Investigation Command Reported.
Shackleford Banks is “one of the three components of the 56-mile long Cape Lookout National Seashore,” according to the website Outerbanks. The USACIC reported this is not the first time human remains have washed up on the barrier island due to the “prevailing tides.”
When the head was discovered, it was confirmed to be that of Spc. Enrique Roman-Martinez of Fort Bragg, N.C. by dental records, according to the USACIC.
The USACIC said in a June 30th letter that offered a $25,000 reward for credible information leading to an arrest and conviction of anyone involved in the homicide that his friends reported him missing in the evening of May 23 after last having seen him the night before.
“His phone and wallet were found at the campsite and he was last seen wearing blue shorts and no shirt,” according to the reward letter.
California Lawmaker Norma Torres Said Investigators Need to Hear More From the 7 Other Soldiers Who Were on the Camping Trip Who Initially Claimed They Thought Ramon-Martinez Could Be Suicidal
Roman-Martinez’s sister, Griselda Martinez, told the Fayetteville Observer she and her family read the autopsy report, even though it was hard to know the full details of what happened to her brother.
“She said it was difficult to read some of the details, including that her brother’s eyes were missing and his hair had been pulled out,” according to the Fayettville Observer.
Martinez told the paper, “It was such a brutal crime. Reading it and seeing how horrible it was…Everything about this case doesn’t make sense,” she said. “Me and my family are left wondering. The biggest question is, ‘Why?'”
California lawmaker Norma Torres, who represents 35th Congressional District which includes the City of Chino, where Roman-Martinez and his family are from, gave an emotional and impassioned plea from the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives to implore leaders to do more to get to the bottom of what happened to Roman-Martinez, pointing out that there were seven other people there with him and they should be further investigated. Torres said:
We don’t know what happened that night on May 22. But what we do know is it cost Enrique his life. And the seven people who would seemingly have a lot of explaining to do remarkably had nothing to say.
When a police officer walked up to their campsite the next day, and asked those seven soldiers to move their illegally parked vehicles, not a single one thought it was important enough to mention that someone that had been camping with them — their friend — their soldier — was missing from the night before.
It took a full 17 hours before they spoke out and reported Enrique gone. And when they did so, they said that we’re worried that Enrique was suicidal. It is hard for me to imagine why anyone would hesitate to tell a police officer that their fellow camper, their friend, their soldier was missing if they thought he was suicidal.
A week later, Specialist Ramon-Martinez remains were found, washed ashore, not far away. The question of whether or not he was suicidal was settled by the simple fact that they only found a severed head. A head. That’s it.
Torres went on to criticize the military’s handling of informing the family, saying that Ramon-Martinez’s family only learned “that their son had been mutilated through media reports…The medical examiner ruled his death a homicide on that Monday and it took the Army until Friday to reach out to the family, the lack of notice was bad enough, but the lack of answers is still far worse. It is time to hear more from the seven individuals.”
Torres addressed the seven soldiers when she spoke on the House floor, saying, “Your silence isn’t acceptable.” She raised her fist and fought tears when she said, “Lawyering up is not enough!… They deserve to bury their son.”