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Fort Hood finds AWOL soldier in jail a week after high-speed police chase

The main gate at Fort Hood, Texas. (U.S. Army photo/Released)
October 16, 2020

A Fort Hood soldier who was declared AWOL has been found in a Louisiana jail where he has been for almost a week following a high-speed police chase culminating in his arrest.

A Fort Hood official reportedly told Pvt. Edward Casteel’s fiancé, Paradise Rodriguez, during a phone call that her fiancé had been found, but she later realized that deputies in Lincoln Parish, La. had arrested Casteel nearly a week prior, FOX44 News reported. Casteel is assigned to 1-8 Cavalry Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. Fort Hood officials said he was last seen on October 7 when he left the base on his own accord. However, local police records said he was taken into custody on October 6.

“He has been there for six days. It’s clear. He has ID on him. It’s clear who he is. They have allowed this to happen. I’m holding them 100 percent responsible,” Rodriguez told Fox 44.

The 28-year-old private was arrested for allegedly speeding, driving with a suspended license and resisting arrest, KWTX reported. Casteel had been driving a red Chevy Cobalt on Interstate 20 at 92 mph when officers first tried pulling him over. After initially refusing to stop, a high-speed chase ensued and officers were forced to box him in. His bond was set at $3,500.

A police affidavit describing the arrest said, “I brandished my service weapon and ordered Casteel to exit the vehicle with his hands where I could see them,” adding that Casteel complied with the order. “When Casteel was asked why he didn’t stop, he was unable to give a consistent answer,” the officer wrote, although Casteel “did admit to both seeing my marked unit, lights and sirens,”

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When FOX44 asked Ford Hood officials how they didn’t know about Casteel’s arrest, Ltc. Chris Brautigam said, “I don’t know how to answer that one.”

Rodriguez had asked Fort Hood to make the missing soldier’s search public, but they refused. Rodriguez ended up making it public on her own.

“Had I not gone public and pushed, people have gone out of their way to care about him, a complete stranger to all of these thousands of people, we still might not have known,” Rodriguez reportedly told the Fort Hood officer over the phone.

Fort Hood said the decision not to go public with the search was based on “information that was available” to them and due to the fact that Casteel had left on his own accord.

Rodriguez said she witnessed Casteel having issues with other soldiers that involved harassment and hazing.

“They were blocking him, made a blockade and were shoving him, yanked his hat off his head, spit in it and on him. He didn’t raise his finger. He didn’t swing at them. I said, ‘Eddie, keep calm, go back into your room and we can just text, but I need you to go report that,’” she recalled.

Fort Hood said they didn’t know about the harassment and hazing claims.

“No, I’m not aware of any reports like that,” Brautigam said.

As of October 13, officials have not made any decisions on when Casteel will be brought back to Fort Hood.