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American suspected in death of fellow servicemember

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — An American serviceman is a suspect in the death of another American found unresponsive in a car in Kaiserslautern early Saturday, according to German authorities.

A joint statement Tuesday from German police and the Kaiserslautern prosecutor’s office said police stopped a car for driving erratically early Saturday morning and discovered a dead man in the passenger’s seat. Both the driver and his deceased passenger were Americans belonging to the U.S. military, the statement said.

An autopsy by German authorities concluded that the passenger died from “force to the throat,” according to the statement.

On Tuesday, U.S. European Command reported that U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dmitry Chepusov was found unresponsive in a car in Kaiserslautern and pronounced dead by German authorities about 7 a.m. Saturday.

EUCOM’s statement did not include any other details about the circumstances of Chepusov’s death, and American officials on Wednesday would not confirm whether the German police report referred to Chepusov. German police also would not say whether it was the same case, but did say only one U.S. servicemember was found dead Saturday in a car in Kaiserslautern.

The car’s driver told police that his passenger was an acquaintance and that the two had been out drinking together, German authorities said. Either late Friday or early Saturday morning, the two became separated, the driver told police.

The driver said he later found his acquaintance heavily intoxicated but alive and put him in the car, according to the German authorities’ statement.

According to the German authorities, the driver’s account doesn’t match the autopsy results, and he is considered a suspect in the death.

The  driver appeared before a German court Sunday and was remanded to U.S. custody Monday, German authorities said. A spokesman for Ramstein Air Base said a servicemember turned over to U.S. custody on Monday had been released to his commander and is not in confinement.

Spokesmen for EUCOM and Ramstein both referred questions about Chepusov’s death to the Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations at Quantico, Va. A spokeswoman for OSI had no additional information when reached by phone Wednesday afternoon.

Marcus Kloeckner contributed to this report.
millham.matthew@stripes.com
Twitter: @mattmillham

 

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