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3 soldiers now charged in connection to beheaded US Army paratrooper

Friends of Spc. Enrique Roman-Martinez sit silently during his memorial ceremony. (Master Sgt. Alexander Burnett/82nd Airborne Division/TNS)
January 17, 2022

Three U.S. Army soldiers are now facing charges in the May 2020 beheading case of Spc. Enrique Roman-Martinez, who was stationed at Fort Bragg, N,C., documents revealed last week.

Roman-Martinez was last seen alive on May 22, 2020. He had been on a camping trip in the Outer Banks with seven other soldiers before he went missing. His severed head was found six days later when it washed up on the shore.

Last week, the first of three soldiers were charged in connection to Roman-Martinez’s death. Spc. Alex Becerra, who reported Roman-Martinez missing in a 911 call on May 23, 2020, was charged with conspiracy; three counts of disobeying a superior officer; failure to obey an order; two counts of making a false statement; and wrongful, use, possession or manufacturing of a controlled substance.

On Friday, Military Times reported charges against two other soldiers, Pfc. Samad Landrum and Pvt. Annamarie Cochell. Both soldiers were charged with conspiring with five unnamed people to make a false official statement on May 23, using LSD violating Fort Bragg’s COVID-19-related travel radius by going to the Outer Banks.

Landrum faces two additional charges of making false statements, according to court documents. He is alleged to have lied about using LSD and concealing the presence of an unknown person at his campsite.

Cochell was also charged with breaking two no-contact orders, which bar the subjects of a criminal investigation from communicating with one another. Cochell reportedly broke the orders repeatedly between November 2020 and February 2021, and again in May 2021.

Landrum and Cochell were both assigned to Roman-Martinez’s unit, 37th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.

Becerra reportedly told investigators that the group of soldiers spent much of May 23, 2020 searching for Roman-Martinez. Becerra reportedly said at the time, “We might be afraid that he hurt himself. We’re really not sure.”

When talking with emergency dispatchers about Roman-Martinez’s mental state, Becerra also said, “He wasn’t diagnosed, but he did have suicidal tendencies.”

Roman-Martinez’s sister, Griselda Martinez said she was upset at hearing about Becerra’s comments to the dispatcher because her brother was not suicidal.

An autopsy of Roman-Martinez’s partial remains determined his wound was “somewhat crescent-shaped, incised vs. chop wound … about 3/4 of an inch deep.” The medical examiner said that because the lower portion of Roman-Martinez’s body has not yet been found officials couldn’t definitively say if he was killed by decapitation but wrote that the wounds “are most consistent with death due to homicide.”

Roman-Martinez’s sister said in May 2021 that she felt investigators had not taken her brother’s disappearance seriously at first. It wasn’t until December 2020, a full seven months after his head was found, that authorities announced divers were searching the nearby waters for evidence and the rest of his remains.