A V Corps headquarters soldier died Monday from head injuries he suffered New Year’s Eve after leaving a local disco, authorities said, and it’s unclear whether his death was an accident or a crime.

The soldier, Spc. Rusty Jones, 21, was pronounced dead at about 11 a.m. Monday at Heidelberg University Clinic, V Corps officials said Tuesday.

The cause of death was severe head trauma, officials said.

How Jones received the injuries remain unclear, said Jurgen Grammelmaer, a Heidelberg prosecutor. German authorities are investigating the death along with U.S. military police.

Grammelmaer said witnesses have provided different accounts of what occurred after Jones was asked to leave the E-Point disco in the city’s old town on New Year’s Eve.

Some said Jones fell down, Grammelmaer said. Others said he was attacked.

Grammelmaer said authorities have placed ads in the local newspaper asking for witnesses to come forward with information.

The death of Jones, of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, is one of four being investigated by German and U.S. officials in the Heidelberg and Mannheim areas.

Chief Warrant Officer 3 Heather Arnett, 35, who worked as a personnel officer for NATO’s Heidelberg command, was found dead in her apartment in St. Leon-Rot, authorities said. Her body was discovered by co-workers Jan. 4 after she did not show up for work.

Authorities are discounting “foul play” in Arnett’s death, Grammelmaer said, because there were no signs she had been attacked or of forced entry into her home.

Landstuhl Army Medical Center was handling the autopsy and any toxicology tests, Grammelmaer said.

The other cases involve two Mannheim women both found dead in their beds last fall at Benjamin Franklin Village.

Martha Pouncy, 39 and a child care specialist at Patrick Henry Village, died in November. Juliette Hams, 36, died in October. Both women were wives of deployed sergeants.

Authorities ruled out homicide or foul play in either case. They said they believed Hams died from a lethal combination of drugs or medication and alcohol. Pouncy’s death was suspected to have been caused by either a heat attack or medications.

Autopsies were inconclusive in each case in determining the cause of death and further toxicology tests were done.

Mannheim prosecutor Andreas Grossmann said Tuesday that the toxicology tests on Hams were also inconclusive, possibly because her body had been undiscovered for several days.

“The cause of death could not exactly be explained,” Grossmann said. “But we have no crime.”

Grossmann said authorities were still awaiting results on tests done to determine the cause of Pouncy’s death.

author picture
Nancy is an Italy-based reporter for Stars and Stripes who writes about military health, legal and social issues. An upstate New York native who served three years in the U.S. Army before graduating from the University of Arizona, she previously worked at The Anchorage Daily News and The Seattle Times. Over her nearly 40-year journalism career she’s won several regional and national awards for her stories and was part of a newsroom-wide team at the Anchorage Daily News that was awarded the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

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