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Bragg soldier's death investigated as homicide

Posted January 5, 2011

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— A Fort Bragg soldier whose body was found Saturday on a public hiking and biking trail on post may have been accidentally shot by a hunter, but authorities said Wednesday that they are treating the investigation as a homicide.

Capt. Jeremiah D. Sipes, 33, of Belgrade, Mont., died of a single gunshot wound, authorities said. An autopsy was conducted by the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology.

A hunter called authorities after finding Sipes' body on All American Trail, near the intersection of Plank and King roads at the western edge of Fort Bragg.

"Although the investigation is continuing, Army CID (Criminal Investigative Command) is treating this as a homicide investigation and have no evidence or reason to believe at this time that the death was self-inflicted," CID spokesman Chris Grey said in a statement.

"As with all CID death investigations, agents are exploring all possibilities, and one of those possibilities is that Capt. Sipes was shot by a hunter while he was jogging on a running trail at Fort Bragg," Grey said.

Bragg trail Bragg soldier's death investigated as a homicide

The trail is closed to the public during deer hunting season, Oct. 2 through Jan. 1, Army officials said. Fort Bragg spokesman Tom McCollum said the Army posts signs at the trail head that state: "Trail Closed – No Exceptions."

"We have to stress that, when something is closed, we ask that you don't go out there," McCollum said.

Sipes, a graduate of Montana State University, was the squadron intelligence officer for 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team. He is survived by his wife, Heather, and two children, Hallie and Kellan.

Comrades said he hated running but would hit the All American Trail, which is near his house, because he knew it was good for him.

"That was his least favorite activity. He hated to do it, but he did," said Spc. John Schlotter. 

Schlotter said Sipes was determined to be the best soldier and the best father he could be.

"He was a great man, a great soldier, and I know he was a great father," Schlotter said. "I mean, he strived to be the best."

Army officials said there is no evidence linking Sipes' death with the murder of Fayetteville resident Angel Pesante, whose body was found off Plank Road on Fort Bragg Sept. 27. 

"It was determined that Pesante had no official military affiliation and was found in an area on Fort Bragg property that is not gated and, although posted as restricted, can be accessed by the general public," Grey said. "That investigation remains ongoing, and Army CID is working closely with local law enforcement officials on the case."

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  • docllamacoy Jan 7, 2011

    There were absolutely NO signs posted about a trail closure this year. The MWR page hasn't been updated in years. Last year, the was a trail closure sign only for the first 5.5 mile section. This year, there was nothing. I was out there walking all hunting season, but I wore blaze orange. What I don't think people realize is that there is hunting on Nature Conservancy land that backs right up to the AAT. It is so dangerous to have people using the AAT to not have this information posted at all trail intersections. It's also dangerous for hunters not to be aware of a rec trail there where people are walking/running/biking.
    It angers me to read how this article is written as if this is some fault of Sipes. A hunter should ALWAYS have a clear site of what he's hitting before he shoots. The hunter who shot Sipes is completely ignorant and should be fully prosecuted. This was an incident that should never have happened if the hunter had been using common sense.

  • rsnewsong2 Jan 6, 2011

    hunting season ended on january 1 ... meaning that was the last day of the season.

  • hunt36 Jan 6, 2011

    HEY WHY WAS HE HUNTING ANYWAY DEER HUNTING SEASON ENDED JANUARY 1!!!!! SOMEONE NEEDS TO LOOK INTO THIS!!

  • crazyjohnbrown Jan 6, 2011

    It wasn't a secret that the trail was closed.

    http://www.fortbraggmwr.com/AATrail/all_american_trail_rules.htm

  • xchief661 Jan 5, 2011

    So sorry for this soldier and his friends and family.God Bless and thank you for your service to our country.

  • brandonherron Jan 5, 2011

    I run on the All American Trail often, and have done so many times during the months the trail was supposedly "closed. Not once have I seen a sign posted that the trail was closed. I was actually out on the trail the morning that CPT Sipes was shot and spoke to an MP who was writing down vehicle information at the parking area along Vass Rd, trying to figure out who was in the area at the time. There was no sign posted there. What irks me is that Fort Bragg claims the trail is closed to the public when it isn't, and in doing so casts blame on CPT Sipes like it was his fault since he shouldn't have been out there. An unfortunate accident made worse by bureaucrats passing the buck.

  • oops7483 Jan 5, 2011

    Army CID (Criminal Investigative Command) - umm...not understanding this acronym!

  • dlk13ster Jan 5, 2011

    With respect, there's an important legal distinction people need to understand:

    "Homicide" just means (quite literally) the killing of an adult human, by another human. No inference should be made over malice, premeditation, or intent.

    "Manslaughter," which is the accidental/unintentional killing of a human by another human is still classified as "homicide." So is "Voluntary Manslaughter" (i.e. the accidental killing of a human by another human through an act of criminal negligence).

    So is "Murder in the second degree" (i.e. the UNPREMEDITATED killing of a human by another human, such as during the commission of an unrelated crime like burglary).

    The fact that this is being investigated as a homicide means only three things: that they have ruled out suicide, natural causes (e.g. heart attack), and personal accident (e.g. accidentally shooting oneself while cleaning a gun).

    That is ALL this means...

  • crazyjohnbrown Jan 5, 2011

    SouthernLady05 - It has not been ruled a homicide, it is simply being investigated as a homicide. That is pretty much standard procedure for this type of thing.

    boots on the dirt - The trail that this soldier was found on was closed due to hunting season. It was posted at both ends of the trail. The trail was to be reopened the day after he was shot.

  • _Graysons_Mommy_ Jan 5, 2011

    Until they state the bullet that killed him..you cant assume it was the hunter...Aweful tragedy Godbless his wife and childen!

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