Fort Hood based soldier, Spc. Cory Grafton, 20, was arrested on Tuesday in connection to the killing of a Chelsea Cheatham, 32, last year
Chelsea Cheatham was found unconscious and not breathing in a Days Inn hotel located about six minutes away from Fort Hood on June 3, 2019
Grafton was arrested after police used the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative Program to match Grafton’s DNA
A police interview with one of Grafton’s peers said the suspect confessed the murder of Cheatham to him
A US serviceman stationed at Fort Hood has been arrested in connection to the death of a woman found dead in a hotel near the Killeen, Texas base last year.
Spc. Cory Grafton, 20, was arrested on Tuesday and charged with murder after a witness and advanced DNA testing allegedly linked him to the murder of Chelsea Cheatham 32.
Cheatham was found unconscious and not breathing in a Days Inn hotel on E. Central Texas Expressway, located about six minutes away from Fort Hood, on June 3, 2019.
Killeen police said detectives recently received her autopsy results and it was determined the manner of death was a homicide.
The Killeen Police Department utilized the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) Program to match Grafton’s DNA with DNA found at the crime scene.
For a year the case grew cold but police said that on September 2, that Texas Rangers informed them that the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative Program could be used to help solve the case. Texas Rangers received a grant for DNA testing last year.
Following an investigation, authorities identified Grafton as a possible suspect.
Authorities then interviewed him about her death and collected his DNA, which was found to be a match on Tuesday and he was subsequently arrested.
‘With the assistance from the Texas Rangers, DNA from the scene was submitted and the results confirmed that Gafton matched the DNA located on Cheatham,’ the Killen Police department said.
In an interview with one of Grafton’s co-workers, the peer said Grafton had confessed to him about killing Cheatham.
Grafton is an active duty soldier assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division.
Fort Hood said in a statement: ‘The unit continues to cooperate with the Killeen Police Department and the Texas Rangers.’
Cheatham’s exact cause of death has not been announced and a motive behind the killing is not known.
Grafton was being held in lieu of $1 million bail Wednesday night.
His arrest has deepened the scandal at the Killeen, Texas base where Vanessa Guillen, a 20-year-old Private First Class soldier, disappeared and was murdered in April
This year alone there have been 28 deaths at Fort Hood base in Killeen, Texas including five homicides and eight suicides
Pfc Guillen was killed by a fellow soldier, 20-year-old Aaron Robinson, who allegedly buried her remains near the Leon River. Those remains were found on June 30.
Robinson died by suicide on July 1 as police honed in on him to confront him about him involvement with Guillen’s case.
Guillen’s heartbreaking case prompted a sexual harassment reckoning within the Army as she had told her family she was being sexually harassed at the based before disappearing.
The extensive list of deaths, disappearances and suicides at the Army base has led to several probes into the base’s command culture and its handling of deaths missing cases and sexual assault reports.
The army post in central Texas is at the center of military, congressional as well as, independent investigations into its leaders and several of its soldiers’ deaths.
Two of the cases listed in the congressional investigation involve reports of sexual assault and harassment, which sparked a separate investigation into how the post handles claims of sexual misconduct.
In September, the I Am Vanessa Guillen bill was introduced in the House of Representatives to change the way the Army handles reports of sexual harassment and abuse. Vanessa Guillen death inspires attempt to change military code.
The U.S. Army announced in early September that Fort Hood’s top commander, Maj. Gen. Scott Efflandt would be stepping down from his position to serve in a lesser role as the deputy commanding general of the base in Killeen.