Ex-soldier offers insight in Schweinfurt death
By JOHN VANDIVER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 19, 2008
BAUMHOLDER, Germany — When a CNN news bulletin flashed across his TV screen reporting that a Schweinfurt-based soldier was shot during a standoff after attempting to take his girlfriend hostage, Frederick Melott immediately turned to his wife in their North Carolina home.
“That’s got to be her,” he recalled saying.
The woman wasn’t identified in the initial report, but Melott did an Internet search of the name of an ex-girlfriend and her hometown — Anne Frank and Altershausen. The search quickly proved his hunch correct as details emerged with updated news reports.
“I fought with her at that house, too. I knew right away it was her,” said Melott, a former soldier who was based in Schweinfurt, who described a toxic yearlong relationship with the 23-year-old Frank.
It has been nearly a week since Pvt. Jeremiah Carmack was shot to death by a German SWAT team after he allegedly pointed an M4 carbine at police. While an Army investigation continues to probe how Carmack managed to smuggle the M4 off base, the circumstances that drove him to such an act also remain murky.
“He was a very easygoing western Ohio boy. We’re stuck here with a precious life lost and a lot of questions,” said Jeffrey Kimbrell, a family friend and hometown neighbor of Carmack. “He was a good kid. That’s just not the Jeremiah I knew.”
Melott, however, says that if Carmack’s relationship with Frank was anything like his own, then the Army private was dealing with a lot of emotional turbulence.
“I’m not saying its right to go over there with an M4, but knowing all that I went through, I can only imagine what he went through,” said Melott, a former 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry soldier who said he dated Frank in 2005.
Melott points to a couple of examples:
On one occasion, Frank allegedly fabricated a story to police that Melott had beaten her up and was driving drunk. A couple of hours later, police arrived at his Schweinfurt apartment, knocked down the door and took him into custody, he said.
“I was out of the Army at time,” Melott said, adding that he was working for the Army and Air Force Exchange Service. After alcohol tests came back negative, the police turned sympathetic and advised him to press false statement charges, Melott said.
Karl-Heinz Schmitt, a German police spokesman involved in the Carmack case, declined to comment on Melott’s allegations and would not confirm if Frank has a history of filing false reports against boyfriends.
“We don’t talk about these personal things,” said Schmitt.
There was also an incident in which Frank allegedly sent threatening text messages to an Army private, impersonating Melott, who was a sergeant at the time. The messages prompted German and Army Military Police to take him into custody.
“I was in the Schweinfurt MP holding room for a couple hours. Then she admitted it, and I was released back to my unit,” he said.
Melott, who met Frank on New Year’s Eve 2004, said he finally broke off the relationship by the end of 2005.
Why, if the relationship was so bad, did it last that long?
“She always came back crying. I had gone through a divorce. I guess I didn’t want to be alone,” Melott said. “And I thought she was pretty.”
A call on Tuesday to Frank’s last known cell phone number was diverted to an automated unavailable message. Over the weekend, Frank did not answer the door when a reporter visited her home.
Schmitt said that Frank does not want to talk to the media. She has, however made a statement to police about Carmack. Frank told authorities that Carmack bound her wrists but that she eventually managed to calm the soldier and convinced him to loosen the tie. At some point, during the incident, Frank’s mother placed a call to the police. As the police arrived, the women were fleeing from the home, according to Schmitt.
Carmack, 30, was later spotted by a helicopter in a field some 600 meters from the house, located about 20 miles east of Schweinfurt. The weapon recovered from Carmack was loaded with 15 rounds, Schmitt said.
Kimbrell, the neighbor, said he’s having a hard time making sense of what police say happened. “This sounds like it would have taken a lot of premeditation. Don’t take this the wrong way, but that wasn’t how Jeremiah was,” he said.
Carmack, who lived with an aunt and uncle before rejoining the Army last year, had a hard time finding steady work after leaving the military several years ago, according to Kimbrell.
“I told him the military isn’t a bad place to go back to,” said Kimbrell.