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YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Chief Master Sgt. Winfred B. Harrison, who was being court-martialed, was found dead on base Thursday morning, Yokota officials announced. The cause of death is under investigation.

Harrison failed to appear for court proceedings Thursday morning, prompting a search by base and law enforcement officials. He was found in one of the squadron buildings by a member of the 374th Civil Engineering Squadron, Yokota officials said.

Harrison, 44, was charged with being absent without leave, obstructing justice and two counts each of cruelty and maltreatment, assault and indecent acts. The 26-year Air Force veteran has not been in custody.

Testimony at pretrial hearings indicated the government would argue Harrison tried to develop an inappropriate and close personal relationship with two subordinate airmen, through a pattern of favor and harsh supervision.

The Air Force as far back as Spring 2001 made plans to allow Harrison, a member of Yokota’s 374th Civil Engineer Squadron, to retire after he was investigated for an alleged “inappropriate relationship” with an airman he supervised, witnesses said during the pretrial hearings.

But the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks derailed those plans as Air Force civil engineering fields were put on stop-loss until July 2002.

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

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