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Fort Hood soldier arrested on murder warrant in year-old case

A 20-year-old soldier assigned to Fort Hood, Texas, was arrested Tuesday afternoon on a warrant for murder in the case of a woman who was killed at a local Days Inn more than a year ago.

Spc. Cory L. Grafton was arrested over the June 3, 2019, death of 32-year-old Chelsea L. Cheatham. Her death was ruled a homicide by an autopsy at the Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences in Dallas.

A witness said Grafton was at the scene of the murder, according to Killeen police, who wrote in a statement that they were able to arrest Grafton after the Texas Rangers matched his DNA to that which was found at the crime scene.

The DNA was tested through the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative, which provides grants to help jurisdictions tackle the overwhelming backlog in rape kits nationwide.

Killeen Police Department spokeswoman Ofelia Miramontez did not respond to multiple phone calls Wednesday asking about the length of time it took to arrest Grafton, as well as to identify Cheatham’s cause of death.

A spokesman for 1st Cavalry Division, Lt. Col. Chris Brautigam, confirmed Grafton was a member of the unit and said the Army was cooperating with Killeen police and Texas Rangers in the case.

Grafton was taken into custody Tuesday at about 4 p.m. and transported to the Killeen City Jail, according to law enforcement.

Fort Hood has been in the news frequently this summer following a series of macabre deaths at the central Texas installation.

Spc. Vanessa Guillen, a soldier from Fort Hood’s 3rd Cavalry Regiment, disappeared during the middle of her duties April 22. Her remains were later found disposed along a nearby river.

Prosecutors say she was murdered in an armory by a fellow soldier, Spc. Aaron Robinson, who took his own life when police attempted to apprehend him.

There have been 28 soldiers who died at Fort Hood this year. Five of those deaths have been publicly linked to foul play. Guillen’s case also brought up accusations of sexual harassment and assault, which are still being investigated.

“The numbers are high here,” Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy told reporters during an August visit to Fort Hood. “They are the highest, in most cases, for sexual assault and harassment and murders for our entire formation — the U.S. Army.”

A series of investigations into Fort Hood, its chain of command’s actions and the surrounding community are attempting to identify and find ways to address the installation’s disparity in violent crimes.

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