Army - No link between killings, anti-malaria drug

Thursday, October 31, 2002

WASHINGTON -- An Army investigation of possible medical and behavioral causes behind a series of domestic killings and suicides at Fort Bragg, N.C., has ruled out the anti-malaria drug Lariam, officials said Wednesday.

Speculation about possible explanations for the killings has run the gamut from the stress of combat to psychotic side effects from Lariam. Three of the four soldiers involved in the killings had recently returned from Afghanistan.

Elaine Kanellis, an Army spokeswoman, said she could not discuss findings from the investigation report, which is not yet in final form.

USA Today reported Wednesday that the investigators found no common link in the four killings, except that the soldiers were all in troubled marriages.

A defense official who spoke on condition of anonymity said Lariam has been ruled out as a cause.

The Army inquiry was conducted by consultants in psychology, social work and psychiatry as well as Army epidemiologists and chaplains. Officials from the government's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also participated in the inquiry.

Soldiers from units based at Fort Bragg, including the 82nd Airborne and the Army Special Forces Command, featured prominently in U.S. ground operations in Afghanistan.

On June 11, Sgt. 1st Class Rigoberto Nieves, 32, a Special Forces soldier, fatally shot his wife and then himself, two days after he had returned from Afghanistan.

Later that month, according to police investigators, another Special Forces soldier, Master Sgt. William Wright, 36, killed his wife. Weeks later he led authorities to her body.

On July 19, Sgt. 1st Class Brandon Floyd, reportedly a member of the secret Delta Force, shot his wife and then killed himself.

Also in July, Marilyn Griffin, who had separated from her husband in May, was stabbed to death and her body set on fire in her home. Sgt. Cedric Griffin, 28, who is with the 18th Airborne Corps and had never been to Afghanistan, was charged.

Local police said all the couples had reportedly had marital problems.

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