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PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — The mother of Lea Gray reacted with relief and tears Friday at news that murder charges have been filed in her daughter’s disappearance and death in South Korea.

And she said Lea Gray’s 6-year-old daughter Bianca has yet to be told of her mother’s death and continues to ask for her.

The Army on Friday charged Capt. Christopher Gray with murder in his wife’s death.

"I’m glad finally they charge him for my daughter’s death," Marilyn Bahena, 50, of the Philippines, told Stars and Stripes in a telephone interview from California late Friday.

"I’ve been waiting [for] this one. I’ve been waiting [for] the charges.

"I even asked to view the body" in New Jersey, where the U.S. military sent it for an autopsy, she said. "But they didn’t allow me to view the body because the body’s ‘evidence,’ " she said she was told.

"I really miss Lea. … Very sad," she said, weeping quietly. "She was killed. So painful. She was killed. Why killed? She’s very helpless. She’s a woman."

Bahena said Gray is not Bianca’s biological father.

Bianca has been returned to the Philippines, but the family has yet to break the news to the child.

"She’s OK," Bahena said. "She’s in the family. She’s happy. She doesn’t know about her mother’s death yet."

"She was asking where her mom is. … We just told her that ‘She’s on vacation and until now we don’t know when she is coming home.’ Poor girl."

Bahena praised the U.S. Army for what she said was care and kindness accorded her granddaughter.

Until her mother’s disappearance, Bianca had attended the Daegu American School at Camp George.

But the Army placed her in 24-hour home care to spare her the possible trauma of having schoolmates ask her mother’s whereabouts, Bahena said.

"She was put in the home of the foster care after Chris was arrested," she said.

"She took really good care of Bianca too," Bahena said of the woman who had charge of the child.

"Every now and then she called me to talk with Bianca."

Later, a man she identified as a "colonel" flew the child to Manila and placed her in the care of relatives, Bahena said.

"They really took good care of the little girl, Bianca. I am very thankful to him," she said.

Bahena also shed additional light on her daughter’s situation prior to her disappearance.

She said her daughter told her she was seeking U.S. citizenship and was scheduled to fly to Hawaii on May 5 for an interview with immigration authorities.

"The last time I talked with her was April 13," Bahena said. "When she didn’t give me a call anymore, I was worried."

Lea Gray was reported missing April 20.

Several days later, she said, Christopher Gray phoned Bahena to say his wife was missing.

And in an alleged subsequent call, Gray said "he reported it to the Korean police already," she said.

"And I believed him," she said.

Whenever she called her daughter’s cell phone, it would ring.

"Nobody answers it. I said, ‘Chris, do you think you can trace where the cell phone is?’ He told me ‘Yes, I will do that.’ "

Gray allegedly told Bahena that his wife appeared to have left him after an argument and that passports and other travel documents for herself and Bianca were no longer in the apartment.

Bahena said her daughter and Gray met over the Internet in 2005 and Gray later followed through with a visit to the Philippines.

"He met Lea … he met us, the family."

They married and Lea and Bianca lived with Gray in Texas, where he was stationed.

Gray deployed to Iraq, according to Bahena, and returned in July. There followed, she said, a vacation in Florida, then, a change of duty station from Texas to South Korea.

Her daughter would have turned 28 last month, Bahena said.

"I didn’t expect this to happen to us," said Bahena. "This is like a movie. But it really happened to us, in real life.

"If he is the one who did it, I hope there will be justice for my daughter."

GI remains jailed in S. Korea

PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — Army Capt. Christopher Gray was charged Friday with the murder of his wife, Lea, whose body was found last month in a mountain valley north of Daegu, authorities said.

Gray was apprehended May 9 — the same day his wife’s body was found — and placed in pretrial confinement at the Camp Humphreys jail in Pyeongtaek, 8th U.S. Army spokesman Lt. Col. Brodrick J. Bailey said Friday.

Bailey said he could not disclose what led authorities to the body.

South Korean police have told Stars and Stripes that U.S. agents asked for help searching the mountains because they believed the woman was dead.

Christopher Gray served as assistant operations officer with the 25th Transportation Battalion at Camp Henry in Daegu.

Lea Gray, 27, was reported missing April 20 from the couple’s Camp George apartment in Daegu.

In addition to her husband, she is survived by a daughter.

Agents of the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command began investigating her disappearance, and authorities posted missing-person flyers with Gray’s picture at various military installations on the peninsula.

Investigators eventually developed information that her body had been deposited in a wooded area near Camp Carroll in Waegwan, about 40 minutes north of Daegu.

Authorities have sealed off the Grays’ apartment as part of their investigation.

Bailey said the investigation is continuing.


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