Local News

Fort Bragg soldier accused of fraud after wife's suicide

Posted May 23, 2012 4:47 p.m. EDT
Updated May 23, 2012 6:55 p.m. EDT

— The 82nd Airborne Division is looking into fraud allegations against a Fort Bragg soldier following the suicide of his wife earlier this month.

About 10 months ago, Spc. Isaac Goodwin married 22-year-old Katherine Morris in Virginia. Morris' mother is alleging that Goodwin only married her daughter to defraud the U.S. Army into giving him extra money for housing.

Marguerite Morris said that, by wedding her daughter, Goodwin became entitled to a Basic Allowance for Housing, which upped his pay by about $700 a month so that he could afford to live off-post with his wife. But Goodwin and Katherine Morris never shared a home in North Carolina, Marguerite Morris said, and Goodwin kept the money for himself.

Marguerite Morris said the phony marriage drove her daughter to depression and, ultimately, suicide.

"She loved him and she just couldn't – it was overwhelming to her that someone had fraudulently married her and betrayed her trust in so many facets," she said.

After meeting with Marguerite Morris on Wednesday, commanders with the 82nd Airborne Division ordered an investigation. 

Goodwin, who was granted emergency leave from Afghanistan after his wife's death, said the allegations are false and that he married his wife "because I love her."

He welcomed the Army investigation.

"I have nothing to hide. I support the Army. I love the Army," Goodwin said.

Goodwin, who is staying with his parents in Columbia, S.C., before resuming his deployment, has not been charged with any crime. The Army has appointed an investigating officer who will review evidence and conduct interviews to determine whether disciplinary action is warranted or whether the case should be referred to law enforcement for possible criminal charges.

Marguerite Morris said the two met at a social event and dated for several months before getting married. Her daughter, who planned to enroll in officer training school with the Air Force after graduating from University of Maryland, didn't tell her parents about the marriage. Her mother said that was because Goodwin told her not to.

"He convinced her somehow that if they didn't marry when she got accepted (to officer training school), they would have a problem with the military," Marguerite Morris said. "Being young and just not knowing about those sort of things, she just kind of fell for it."

After the wedding in a Virginia courtroom, Katherine Morris returned to Maryland to finish school and Goodwin prepared to deploy to Afghanistan. 

"He married her, took the license back to Fort Bragg and immediately filed for the financial benefits," Marguerite Morris said. "Every month, up to December or January, he pocketed that money."

In December, Katherine Morris tried to kill herself, her mother said. That's when her parents found out about the marriage. After that, Marguerite Morris said, Goodwin began sending his wife some of the housing allowance he was getting.

On May 6, just three weeks before graduation, Katherine Morris was found dead in her car near a mall in suburban Baltimore. The medical examiner ruled it a suicide.

Now, Marguerite Morris is determined to create awareness about what happened to her daughter in the hopes that other women won't enter into what she called a "marriage of convenience."

"This is not about revenge. This is about justice for her, because she wanted her story told," she said. "It's not just about her pain. It's the pain of others (too)."