FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — Sources tell WRAL that new DNA tests link a former Army sergeant to the deaths of a mother and her two young daughters 20 years ago.
Timothy Hennis was arrested in May 1985 in connection with the stabbing deaths of Kathryn Eastburn and her two daughters, Kara, 5, and Erin, 3, at their home on Summer Hill Road. At the time, Hennis was an Army sergeant stationed at Fort Bragg.
Sheriff's detectives said Hennis raped Kathryn before killing her and the two girls. Kathryn's husband, Gary Eastburn, was an Air Force captain who was out of town when the murders occurred, and a third daughter was found unharmed in her crib afterwards.
In 1986, Hennis was sentence to death for the homicides. Two years later, however, the state Supreme Court ordered a retrial, citing weak evidence. A jury cleared him of all charges in 1989, making Hennis a free man.
Hennis retired from the Army in 2004 and now lives in Lakewood, Wash., near Fort Lewis. However, a Fort Bragg spokesman confirmed to WRAL that he is being recalled to active duty because of the investigation into the murders. The official said Hennis is not charged with any crimes, but he must report to Fort Bragg by Oct. 30.
The U.S. Constitution bars the state from prosecuting someone again after the person has been acquitted of a crime, but the federal government -- such as the military -- could try Hennis because it's another jurisdiction. The Supreme Court has ruled that former military members can be prosecuted for crimes committed off-base.
Hennis could not be reached for comment. District Attorney Ed Grannis declined comment on Thursday. The Cumberland County Sheriff's Office is referring all questions to the DA's office.