Reports: Army private died before being declared AWOL
By NIKKI WENTLING | STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 15, 2020
WASHINGTON — A dead Army private will be reinstated and entitled to a military funeral after being declared AWOL last year, multiple news outlets reported Wednesday.
The skeletal remains of Pvt. Gregory Wedel-Morales, 23, were found last month in a field in Killeen, Texas. Wedel-Morales disappeared outside Fort Hood in August 2019. The Army declared him AWOL and listed him as a deserter.
The AWOL designation meant Wedel-Morales would not be entitled to a military benefits or honors at his funeral. His mother, Kim Wedel, told Texas news outlets KWTX and KXXV on Wednesday that the Army had decided to reinstate her son after reviewing evidence.
Wedel-Morales was last seen driving a 2018 Black KIA Rio with Texas temporary license tags outside Fort Hood in Killeen on Aug. 19, the Army Criminal Investigation Command told Stars and Stripes. At the time, Wedel-Morales, a motor transport operator assigned to the 1st Sustainment Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, was processing out of the Army and would have been discharged within a couple of days after he disappeared.
Authorities found his remains after U.S. Army criminal investigators from Fort Hood got a tip about a body being found in a field. An autopsy was ordered but no details were immediately released by police.
The Killeen Police Department confirmed that foul play is suspected. “Since the investigation is ongoing, we are not going to release any other information at this time,” Ofelia Miramontez, public affairs, said in a statement.
Army special agents and the Killeen Police Department are offering a reward of up to $25,000 to anyone with credible information.