Local News

Army Recommends Dropping Rape Charge in 22-Year-Old Murder Case

Posted July 6, 2007

— The U.S. Army could drop a rape charge against a Fort Bragg soldier charged in connection with the 1985 slayings of an Air Force captain's wife and two daughters.

The Special Court Martial Convening Authority recommended dismissing the rape charge against Master Sgt. Timothy B. Hennis because the statute of limitations that was in effect in 1985 expired, the Army said.

The authority decided to move forward, however, with a general court martial against Hennis, who is still charged with three counts of premeditated murder in the May 9, 1985, stabbing deaths of Kathryn Eastburn, 32, and her daughters Erin, 3, and Kara Sue, 5, of Fayetteville.

In 1985, the Uniform Code of Military Justice set a three-year statute of limitations for rape. Although that statute of limitations was changed in 1986, the change was not retroactive, and the three-year limit applies to the rape charge against Hennis, the Army said in a news release issued Friday.

Hennis was convicted in a civilian court and sentenced to death in 1986, but the North Carolina Supreme Court awarded him a new trial after finding his first trial was run unfairly and with weak evidence.

A second jury acquitted Hennis in April 1989, and he retired from the Army in 2004.

Evidence connecting him to the crimes, however, prompted the military to recall Hennis to active duty in October 2006 so it could pursue charges in connection with the case.

In May, during an Article 32 hearing – similar to a probable cause hearing in civilian court – a State Bureau of Investigation agent testified that DNA tests from evidence collected 20 years earlier were degraded but provided clear matches for both Eastburn and Hennis.

During that hearing, Hennis' attorneys also challenged the military's ability to try him for the homicides, but the Army found last month that Hennis should face a general court martial where the death sentence could be ordered.

A court martial date has not yet been set.


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  • kidsrn Jul 7, 2007


    you have the nerve to say "he was found innocent-the military had it's chance and passed on it. Let the man be."

    And yet now there is DNA evidence that clearly links him and the mother? Still think he is innocent? Maybe I am too cut and dry, but in my book if there is clear evidence that you did the crime then you should be punished----severely. If there is not clear evidence then that is a different story. I may want to punish you severely, but that is just wanting. Bottom line---this man destroyed a family 22 years ago. Those 2 little girls (had they have lived) could have been married by now and perhaps with families of their own. I agree wholeheartedly with Slappy---fry his a--

  • CuriousT Jul 7, 2007

    Think of it another way. If he's court martialed, WE (US Taxpayers) won't be paying his retirement benefits, his medical, his dental, or that of his dependents, FOR THE REST OF HIS LIFE.

    It's bad enough that he's gotten away with this, but for me to have to pay for HIS RETIREMENT is beyond repulsive. I HAPPILY and WILLINGLY pay for those that HONORABLY serve this country.

    Just my $ .02,

  • proudmama Jul 7, 2007

    SlappyH99 - AMEN

  • goutytoe Jul 7, 2007

    Calling Nifong? Anyone seen Nifong?

  • Sabertooth Jul 6, 2007

    I remember the Hennis case so many years ago. He was guilty and authorities had him to right, but the criminal investigators contaminated his clothes that he tried to burn in a trash can.

  • slappyh99 Jul 6, 2007

    Fry his sorry a--

  • tiggerjaw Jul 6, 2007

    IF convicted again, I hope this time he will rot in hell and the mother her 2 daughters can finally rest in peace.

  • cjump Jul 6, 2007

    He was found innocent - the military had its chance and passed on it. Let the man be.

  • strolling bones Jul 6, 2007

    to quote the great WC Fields: "looking for a loophole" here the loophole may hang him.

  • parawife Jul 6, 2007

    He has already been given 22 years of freedom that he should not have had.I would say even if he got the death penalty he has gotten less than most convicted killers.