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Two years later, still no answers in death of Pfc. Amanda Gonzales

By RICK SCAVETTA | STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 5, 2003

Friends and family members say they are frustrated that Army investigators have been unable to make an arrest in the two years since Pfc. Amanda Gonzales was found dead in her Hanau, Germany, barracks room.

Gonzales’ father, Santos “T.C.” Gonzales, said agents from the Criminal Investigative Command, also known as CID, continue to call to update him.

In a telephone interview last week, Gonzales said he is often disheartened when they call.

“Two years go by and I’m hearing the same story over and over,” he said. “You get to the point of saying [to the Army], “Why call me, why ruin my day?’”

Amanda Gonzales, 19, a cook assigned to the 127th Aviation Support Battalion, was four months pregnant when she was found in her third-floor barracks room on Fliegerhorst Casern in Hanau on Nov. 5, 2001. The Army ruled her death a homicide by asphyxiation.

Because the investigation is ongoing, CID will not discuss specifics, including whether it has a primary suspect or if it is close to an arrest, said CID spokesman Christopher Grey.

But Grey insists that CID will continue what has already been a thorough investigation.

To date, agents have conducted about 400 interviews, collected 375 pieces of evidence, and conducted more than 100 searches and crime-scene examinations, Grey said. For more than a year, a special agent has been assigned full time to the case, and the FBI has also worked on the investigation, Grey said.

Shortly after Gonzales’ death, CID offered a reward for information and posted fliers around military communities in Germany. Originally issued as a $20,000 reward, CID raised the offer to $50,000 earlier this year. To date, few people have responded.

The seeming lack of progress is not lost on her friends.

“I’m really mad at CID; I feel like they don’t even care,” said Shawna Steele, Gonzales’ best friend. “All the cases that go on for years, do they just forget about them and say we’re going to leave this on the back shelf?”

Although 24 months have passed, everyday events remind Steele that Gonzales’ murderer has not been brought to justice, she said.

“There’s always things that remind me,” Steele said.

Last week, Steele pulled out an outfit they bought while shopping together in Germany. An episode of the television program “Law and Order” aired where the victim was a pregnant woman. A Dodge Neon, like the one Gonzales owned, drove past and Steele could swear that Gonzales was behind the wheel.

“I know it can’t be her, it’s all in my head,” Steele said.

Now, Gonzales’ unit is in Baghdad supporting the 4th Brigade, 1st Armored Division. Its deployment does not impact the investigation, as CID agents could conduct interviews worldwide if needed, Grey said.

Many soldiers who knew Gonzales have since changed duty stations. Last year, the Army kept four soldiers from leaving Hanau as part of the investigation. But an agent recently told Santos Gonzales that the suspects were released and had gone back to the States, he said.

“It doesn’t make any sense; I can’t put two and two together,” Gonzales said. “First it was one suspect, then it was two. Now they say they don’t have anyone.”

But Grey insists that CID isn’t giving up.

“There are no statues of limitations for murder,” Grey said. “We intend to exhaust every lead, follow up on every clue, and use all means at our disposal to solve this crime.”

Anyone with information regarding Gonzales’ death may contact the closest CID office or contact the Wiesbaden, Germany CID office at (49) (0) 611-816-2481 or DSN 336-2481.


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