Local News

Third Lejeune Marine Being Questioned About Parachute-Tampering Incident

Posted July 11, 2003 2:35 a.m. EDT

— A third Marine has been taken into custody in connection with an investigation into the 2nd FSSG parachute-tampering incident, as well as an active narcotics investigation.

Cpl. Clayton A. Chaffin, 28, an air delivery specialist from Franklin, Ohio, was being held at the base brig, said 2nd Lt. Kate VandenBossche.

Chaffin also was being held in connection with an ongoing narcotics investigation, Camp Lejeune officials said in a news release.

Chaffin's civilian attorney, Vaughan Taylor of Jacksonville, said he could not comment on any matters of evidence. Chaffin was scheduled to have a hearing at the base brig on whether he should be detained longer.

"He maintains his total innocence with regard to this matter," Taylor said.

Under military law, a suspect can be held without charges for a limited time in pretrial confinement, said Lejeune spokesman Staff Sgt. James Connolly.

Officials did not say what role they believe Chaffin may have played in the parachute sabotage.

Another Marine accused of tampering with the parachutes is scheduled to go to court-martial July 29. Lance Cpl. Antoine D. Boykins, 21, of Baltimore, is charged with 13 counts of attempted premeditated murder, 13 counts of reckless endangerment and one count of conspiracy to commit premeditated murder.

Charges were dismissed against a third Marine, Lance Cpl. Julian C. Ramirez, 25, of Los Angeles.

Three Marines were injured Sept. 21, 2002, when their parachutes failed to open when they jumped from about 1,250 feet; their reserve chutes deployed safely. Other jumps for that day's exercise were canceled, and investigators later found that 13 of the 22 parachutes had been sabotaged.

At a hearing in March, a military prosecutor said Boykins and Ramirez cut parachute suspension lines because they had been disciplined and were angry with their platoon commander.

The charges against Ramirez were dismissed the following month after his attorneys argued that no forensic evidence linked Ramirez to the crime.

All three Marines are members of the 2nd Transportation Support Battalion, 2nd Force Service Support Group, Connolly said.