Five times troops have mysteriously vanished in recent years

Jack Murphy
June 24, 2020 - 11:15 am
Missing Military

DoD

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1. Marine Corps First Lt. Matthew Kraft

"They were on pre-deployment leave — his unit is in the Middle East now — and he took the two weeks to plan a longer trip," said Greg Kraft, Matthew's father. "That was how he kept in shape, how he spent his spare time. He would prefer to be in the mountains and hiking and backpacking and fly fishing."

Lt. Matthew Kraft was skiing along a cross country trail in the Sierra Nevada mountains when he went missing in 2019. Initially, his friends and family held out hope as he had packed extra food and was also a graduate of the Marine Corps mountain warfare course. He knew how to handle himself. But as searchers came across avalanche debris fields, the search had to be called off due to safety concerns. 

In the summer months, the snow and ice began to thaw but to this day remains have yet to be recovered.

Some of the items Matthew was traveling with include: 

  • An Otterbox iPhone case;
  • Oakley sunglasses;
  • Katadyn water filtration system;
  • Osprey backpack rain cover (shadow gray);
  • Petzl headlamp;
  • Kwikpoint sleeping system;
  • Scarpa T1 ski boots.

If anything is found, GPS coordinates should be relayed to Dave Fox from the National Park Service at dave_fox@nps.gov

2. Spc. Enrique Roman-Martinez

Spc. Enrique Roman-Martinez went missing in May of 2020 from Cape Lookout National Seashore in North Carolina. 

“It’s definitely a little mysterious,” the seashore superintendent Jeff West told the News-Times. “By the time we got the report, about 17 hours had passed and by then we couldn’t use a search dog, especially with all the wind we get over here.”

Park Rangers, the Coast Guard and the 82nd Airborne Division all helped with the search. Roman-Martinez was last seen near a campsite near Mile Marker 46 on May 22 and was reported missing by friends the next day. On May 29, the partial remains of Roman-Martinez washed up onshore. Investigators are treating the case as a homicide and are offering a $15,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest or conviction.

Citing the ongoing investigation, CID did not release any further information on the case. Those with information can call  910-396-8777 or 910-396-1179. 

3. Cadet Kade Kurita

When West Point cadet Kade Kurita went missing it launched a massive search of the entire campus, located on the cliffs of the Hudson River. The buildings and surrounding forest were searched even as though it was later revealed that Kurita had posted a Snapchat message announcing plans to end his own life. After five days, he was found in the basement of a building at West Point. He died by suicide with his issued M4 rifle on October 18, 2019. Where he obtained the 5.56 bullet remains an open question, as the issuing of ammunition at West Point is usually strictly controlled.

"We are grieving this loss, and our thoughts and prayers go out to Cadet Kurita's family and friends," Lt. Gen. Darryl Williams, superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy said at the time.

Kurita was known to have excelled at West Point in both academics as well as in learning military skills.

1-800-273-TALK is the U.S. National Suicide Prevention hotline.

4. Maura Murray

Also a West Point cadet at one point, but no longer on active duty when she disappeared, Maura Murray remains one of the most elusive and mysterious disappearances in the country. Some have called her the first major missing person case of the social media age, as her disappearance coincided with the launching of Facebook and her case has attracted online sleuths over the years.

Murray studied at West Point her freshmen year prior to transferring to another college to study nursing. On Feb. 9, 2004, she was involved in a minor car crash in Woodsville, New Hampshire. This was the last time she was seen. Since that time numerous theories have been advanced to explain her disappearance. 

A book about her disappearance called "True Crime Addict" by James Renner offers a thesis that an underground network of women helped provide her with an alias to live under in order to escape an abusive relationship. But for now, the truth remains just as unknown as her whereabouts.

4. Vanessa Guillen

Pfc.Vanessa Guillen went missing on April 22, 2020 at Fort Hood, Texas. As of June 24, the Army suspects foul play in her disappearance. Unconfirmed reports from Guillen's family attorney indicate that a male sergeant walked in on her in the shower and harassed her prior to her disappearance. She reported him, but no actions were taken, according to the family's lawyer.

“God forbid she comes back dead, I will close this base. I’ll move the Earth and the sky to close down this base because it’s a rotten base. It’s a rotten base. They say it’s the best place…the best place for who? The best place to sequester to violate and kill. It’s not fair. It’s not fair that’s why I stay fighting,” Vanessa's mother said at a recent press conference.

Guillen was last seen in the parking lot of the 3rd Cavalry Regiment Engineer Squadron Headquarters. She left behind her barracks room key, car keys, ID card and other personal effects in the armory where she had been working that day. At the time she disappeared, she was wearing a black T-shirt and purple exercise pants.

Anyone with information that could lead to Guillen's location are encouraged to contact Army CID Special Agents at 254-287-2722 or the Military Police Desk at 254-288-1170.

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Reach Jack Murphy: jack@connectingvets.com or @JackMurphyRGR.