Winfield said he doesn’t recall the name of the sergeant he spoke with. Billing records that he kept confirm that he called Army officials; he also kept copies of transcripts of Facebook chats with this son. He said he specifically told the sergeant of his son’s warning that more murders were in the works.
Army investigators have since taken a sworn statement from Christopher Winfield, as well as copies of his phone and Internet records.
Eight days after Winfield tried to warn the Army, according to charging documents, members of the 3rd Platoon murdered someone else.
On Feb. 22, Marach Agha, an Afghan civilian, was killed by rifle fire near Forward Operating Base Ramrod in Kandahar province, where the 3rd Platoon was stationed. The Army has released few details about the slaying but has charged Gibbs, Morlock and Spec. Michael S. Wagnon II of Las Vegas with murder.
Wagnon has also been charged with possessing “a skull taken from an Afghan person’s corpse.” He allegedly took the head sometime during January or February 2010, but court documents do not specify whether it belonged to the Afghan he is charged with killing.
An attorney for Wagnon, who was on his second tour in Afghanistan and also served in Iraq, did not return a call seeking comment.
More mayhem followed in March, when Gibbs, Wagnon and three other soldiers – Staff Sgt. Robert G. Stevens, Sgt. Darren N. Jones and Pfc. Ashton A. Moore – opened fire on three Afghan men, according to charging documents. The documents do not provide basic details, such as the precise date of the shooting, the identities of the victims or whether they were wounded.
Members of the 3rd Platoon found their next victim on May 2, documents show. Gibbs, Morlock and Adam Winfield – the son of the former Marine who said he tried to alert the Army three months earlier – are accused of tossing a grenade and fatally shooting an Afghan cleric, Mullah Adahdad, near Forward Operating Base Ramrod.
Winfield’s attorney, Eric S. Montalvo, said his client was ordered to shoot but fired high and missed. He and Winfield’s parents say they can’t understand why the Army has charged their son, given that his father tried to warn officials about the platoon.
Military police caught wind of the final killing a few days later, but only by happenstance. Records show they were coincidentally investigating reports of hashish use by members of the 3rd Platoon.
After word leaked that one soldier had spoken to military police, several platoon members retaliated, records show. They confronted the informant and beat him severely – punching, kicking and choking the soldier, then dragging him across the ground. As a last warning, the documents state, Gibbs menacingly waved finger bones he had collected from Afghan corpses.
However, the informant talked to the MPs again and told them what he had heard about the slayings, according to court documents.
Some members of his unit, he said in a statement, “when they are out at a village, wander off and kill someone and every time they say the same thing, about a guy throwing a grenade, but there is never proof.”
This time, the Army acted quickly and made arrests.
Staff researcher Julie Tate in Washington contributed to this report.