Charred remains belong to missing Army nurse
Posted July 18, 2008
Fort Bragg, N.C. — Charred remains found in Onslow County last weekend have been identified as those of an Army nurse who was declared missing eight days ago after her Fayetteville apartment was set on fire.
An autopsy determined the cause of 2nd Lt. Holley Wimunc's death, but authorities declined to disclose it, citing the ongoing criminal investigation. Wimunc's estranged husband, Marine Cpl. John Wimunc, has been charged with her murder.
The identification came the same day that Fort Bragg officials held a roundtable to tout the military's programs to prevent domestic violence.
Holley Wimunc had taken out a protective order against her estranged husband in May, claiming that he held a gun to her head and choked her.
Fort Bragg officials acknowledged that long deployments can stress a couple that had marital problems to begin with, but they said there is no evidence of an increase in domestic abuse cases on the post.
"I don't think there's anything intrinsic in the military deployment or military experience that makes a man or woman more prone to domestic violence," said Capt. David Mikkelson, a chaplain who recently returned from a 15-month deployment to Iraq.
Col. Ed Crandell of Womack Army Medical Center, where Holley Wimunc was a nurse, said there is no documentation that domestic violence rates are higher in the military than in civilian life.
"In fact, in some cases, I think the rate may be even less," Crandell said.
Representatives from Army Community Service said the Army has far more programs than any civilian workplace to address domestic violence, such as a victim-advocate hotline at Fort Bragg that abused spouses can call anonymously.
"They can establish a safety plan. We do 100 percent safety planning with all the victims that come to us. They also can accompany the victim to court (and) show them how to fill out a restraining order," victim advocacy coordinator Jeri Bourn said.
Holley Wimunc is the second female soldier stationed at Fort Bragg to be killed in the last month.
Spc. Megan Touma's body was found June 21 in a Fayetteville motel room. No one has been arrested in the case, though a Fort Bragg soldier was questioned.
In 2002, four wives at Fort Bragg were killed in a span of six weeks by their husbands, who had recently returned from deployments.
Since then, Fort Bragg's victim-advocate program has added nine staffers – up from one – who make home visits. The Army also now sends mental health advisory teams to combat.
All soldiers must undergo a mental health screening before and after deployment. They're also reassessed 90 to 120 days after coming home, and the results determine whether they are referred to a counselor.
"If we were to walk away from this with the conclusion that we've done everything we can possibly do, that would be incorrect. We can always do more," Crandell said.