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All 7 US soldiers who last saw decapitated paratrooper alive face charges

Friends of Spc. Enrique Roman-Martinez sit silently during his memorial ceremony. (Master Sgt. Alexander Burnett/82nd Airborne Division/TNS)
April 13, 2022

All seven of the U.S. Army paratroopers who last saw fellow soldier Spc. Enrique Roman-Martinez alive are now facing charges following his death and decapitation, the Fayetteville Observer reported Tuesday.

Roman-Martinez went missing in May 2020 while on a camping trip on a remote island in the Outer Banks with Sgt. Samuel Moore, Spcs. Juan Avila, Alex Becerra, Joshua Curry and Benjamin Sibley, Pfc. Samad Landrum, and Pvt. Annamarie Cochell. Martinez was last seen alive on May 22, 2020. Six days later his head washed up on a nearby shore.

Roman-Martinez’s body has not been found. An autopsy of his available remains lists Roman-Martinez’s manner of death as a homicide. 

Becerra, Landrum and Cochell were charged in January with offenses relating to their May 2020 camping trip. On Tuesday, the Fayetteville Observer reported the remaining four soldiers who were with Roman-Martinez have also been charged.

To date, no one has been directly charged in Roman-Martinez’s death. In November, the Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID) said his homicide case remains open but moved to “cold case status.”

Each of the seven soldiers now faces court-martial with one count of conspiracy and failing to obey pandemic-related orders that they stay within 50 miles of Fort Bragg while on leave.

Becerra, Cochell and Landrum are also each charged with using LSD, a schedule I hallucinogenic drug.

Becerra, who made the 911 call to report Roman-Martinez missing on May 23, faces three more counts of disobeying a superior officer.

Cochell also faces two counts of disobeying a superior. Curry faces one count of disobeying a superior.

Becerra faces another three counts of making a false statement, while Sibley, Landrum and Curry face two counts of making false statements. Avila faces one count of that same false statement charge.

Becerra, Cochell and Landrum all allegedly told investigators they left the remote island at 3 a.m. on May 22 on a ferry. Their statements to investigators allegedly omitted the presence of a fourth soldier with them on the ferry ride. Sibley and Currey also reportedly told investigators that three soldiers left the group on a ferry but allegedly omitted a fourth soldier was with them. It was not immediately clear who this fourth soldier was in the various charges.

Sibley, Curry, Landrum and Becerra also all allegedly told investigators they were not aware of any drug use during the camping trip.

Cochell, Curry and Becerra also allegedly violated a supervisor’s orders against them having contact with a particular soldier. It was not immediately clear which particular soldier Cochell, Curry and Becerra were prohibited from interacting with.

Becerra will be the first of the seven soldiers to face trial, with trial dates set between May 31 and June 3. Moore’s is set for a trial between June 21 and 24. Avila’s trial is scheduled for July 25 to 28. Curry’s trial is scheduled for Aug. 2 to 5. Sibley’s trial is scheduled for Sept. 12 to 15. Landrum’s trial is scheduled for Sept. 19 to 22. Cochell’s trial is scheduled for Sept. 26 to 29.