Local News

Suspect in 1985 Triple Murder Returns to Fort Bragg

Posted October 30, 2006

— A retired master sergeant suspected of killing a woman and two children in 1985 returned to Fort Bragg Monday night so a military court can investigate the case.

Timothy Hennis was called back to active duty to face a possible court martial in the 21-year-old unsolved case. He had been ordered to report to Fort Bragg by midnight Monday.

Kathryn Eastburn and her daughters -- Kara, 5, and Erin, 3 -- were stabbed to death in their Summer Hill Road home on May 12, 1985. A year later, Hennis was convicted of the crimes and was sentenced to die.

But he won an appeal of the conviction, and he was acquitted in his 1989 retrial.

In recent years, Hennis has been living in Lakewood, Wash., with his wife and two children and became a Boy Scout leader.

Last month, Cumberland County investigators said new DNA evidence that had been unavailable for testing in 1989 connected Hennis to the murders.

Double jeopardy prevented the state from retrying Hennis in the case since he had been acquitted already, but military lawyer Mark Waple said people can be retried for the same crime in a different jurisdiction, such as federal court or the Army's military court.

"The Department of Defense continues to have jurisdiction to prosecute a service member by court-martial as long as the service member is retired from the armed forces or is on a reserve, demobilized status," said Waple, who isn't involved in the Hennis case.

The Army can even prosecute former soldiers for crimes committed off base, he said.

Hennis has been assigned to the Special Troops Battalion of the 18th Airborne Corps and will have a work assignment on post while Army investigators question him about the case, Fort Bragg officials said.

If murder charges are filed against him again, he could face the death penalty once more if convicted.


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