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Slain teen’s mom still seeks justice

Pfc. Amanda Gonzales, shown on a September 2001 trip to Paris, was found dead in her barracks room in Hanau, Germany, seven years ago this month. Her killing remains unsolved.

COURTESY PHOTO

Pregnant soldier was strangled to death in barracks 7 years ago

By JOHN VANDIVER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 9, 2008

It’s been seven long years.

But Gloria Bates, the mother of a murdered daughter, still believes there will be justice.

"It hasn’t gone to cold case. It’s still open and they’re still investigating," Bates said from her home in Dallas. "We haven’t let up hope."

Nov. 5 marked the seven-year anniversary of the murder of Pfc. Amanda Gonzales, whose body was found on the floor of her third-floor barracks room on Fliegerhorst Casern in Hanau, Germany. Gonzales, 19, was five-months pregnant when she was strangled to death.

In the time since her death, much has changed. The base where she worked as an Army cook has closed. The soldiers assigned there have scattered. Yet DNA evidence continues to be analyzed, Bates said.

According to Bates, the DNA analysis has been slow going. And with two wars going on, agents with the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command also are stretched thin, she said.

"[They] are so short-handed right now as far as CID agents," she said. "That does slow down our case more."

CID agents in Germany have been diligent about keeping in touch and providing updates on the progress of the investigation, Bates said.

"They call me once a month," she said. "Actually, they do have some suspects. It just has to wait on the DNA. They’re getting it back little by little. Every time it’s just not what they’re looking for."

The Criminal Investigation Command, in an effort to renew attention on the case, recently increased its reward to $100,000 for information leading to the arrest of the killer.

Chris Grey, CID spokesman in Washington, said he can’t discuss the specifics of the investigation and what is involved with the DNA analysis. However, it is not a situation in which evidence from the scene is being processed for the first time, he said.

"There are things about this case I’m not going to speak about for investigative reasons," he said. "It’s not like TV. It’s not done in an hour. Yes, it has been seven years, but we’ve solved cases a lot older than that. There are a number of challenges, but we are aggressively pursuing it."

"The bottom line is hopefully we bring the right people to justice. I can say that we’ve worked closely with other federal agencies on the case and brought in a number of assets," said Grey, who declined to say whether suspects had been identified.

Santos Gonzales, Amanda’s father, says he’s still haunted by not knowing what exactly happened to his daughter.

"It’s frustrating as hell. That was my first daughter, my only daughter. It still hurts. It’s been seven years," said Gonzales, who also lives in the Dallas area.

"I know she had been in a struggle. I want some answers and maybe get a little closure."

For Amanda’s mother, the pursuit continues. She said she’s confident there will be justice one day. Until then, she said she won’t let rage consume her.

"They took away my daughter and first grandchild," she said. "But I’ve actually forgiven [whoever was responsible]. I’ve fond it in my heart."

Anyone with information regarding the murder of Amanda Gonzales should contact the closest CID office or the Wiesbaden CID office at (+49) (0)611-705-6601/6551 or DSN 337-6601/6551, or e-mail: crimetips@conus.army.mil.