Support our mission

DARMSTADT, Germany — There is still no official word on the deaths of two 440th Signal Battalion soldiers suspected of drug use, including one who died six months ago.

Army officials have not released the cause of death for Cpl. Jacques Francois Kessler, 22, from Company C. Kessler was found Oct. 25, lying face down, with blood and vomit on his pillow, in his Cambrai Fritsch Casern barracks room.

On April 2, Pvt. Patrick S. Sullivan, 25, was also found dead in his CFK room.

Autopsy results for Kessler and Sullivan have not been released. The only details released so far have been unofficial statements from U.S. Army Europe commander Gen. B.B. Bell, who issued substance-abuse safety alerts to the community in the weeks following both incidents.

Though the soldiers are unnamed in the commander’s safety alerts — known as “Bell Sends” — details describing two soldiers found dead in their barracks rooms point to drug use.

In his first message, dated Nov. 24, 2004, Bell said that a soldier apparently was inhaling aerosol cleaner. A preliminary autopsy result found diflouroethane in his system, and a can of spray cleaner containing the chemical was found in his room, according to Bell’s message.

Since Kessler’s death, his father, John E. Kessler, has repeatedly contacted Stars and Stripes to see if the newspaper had any additional information. The last update Kessler said he received from the military was about shipping his son’s personal items, he wrote in an e-mail in March. There has been no word on how he died.

When asked if Bell’s messages were specifically talking about the deaths of Kessler and Sullivan, U.S. Army Europe spokesman Bob Purtiman declined to “make the link.” He also would not say if any other soldiers have been found dead in the barracks rooms.

V Corps officials said there is no further information to release on their soldiers, citing ongoing investigations by the Criminal Investigation Command. Corps spokeswoman Hilde Patton referred all further questions to CID’s stateside headquarters.

CID spokesman Christopher Grey could not provide further information on the deaths before deadline.

In Bell’s latest message, dated April 16, the general wrote that a soldier recently died of an overdose apparently involving self-injected drugs.

“Drug abuse is a serious problem,” Bell wrote. “So far this fiscal year, three of our soldiers may have died from drug overdoses, and one was killed in an alcohol-related accident.”

USAREUR spokesmen would not name the soldiers mentioned in the message.

Bell continued, saying, “Last year across USAREUR we had 713 drug-related incidents and 738 DUIs.”


Stripes in 7



around the web


Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up