Local News

Army closes investigation into Bragg baby deaths

Posted May 5, 2011 6:03 p.m. EDT

— Army investigators said Thursday that they have closed their examination of the unexplained deaths of young children in Fort Bragg housing without determining the cause of the children's deaths.

A dozen children under age 2 have died in homes on post since the beginning of 2007. Two infants died in the same house on post within three months, prompting the Army to launch an investigation last summer.

The Army Criminal Investigative Command and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission tested 10 homes where the babies lived with their families for problems with carbon monoxide, mercury vapor, mold, lead, asbestos, pesticides and toxins in the drywall. All tests were negative or were at levels well below the standard for human exposure set by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, officials said.

Army Secretary John McHugh expressed frustration in late March with the lack of answers to the deaths and ordered a team of chemists, architects and environmental health experts to conduct another analysis.

CID spokesman Chris Grey said Thursday that all tests have turned up no leads, so the Army was closing the case on 10 of the deaths.

"After extensive testing and investigating, the review did not discover any evidence or information that points to criminality associated with the deaths or any identifiable common environmental link," Grey said in a statement.

The two most recent deaths, which occurred after CID have started its probe, will remain under investigation for now "to ensure that each death case garners all the investigative attention it deserves," he said.

CID will reopen any of the closed cases if new evidence surfaces, he said.