SAPULPA, Okla. — A Sapulpa family is seeking answers after a soldiers’ remains were found outside of Fort Hood in Texas.
Private Gregory Wedel-Morales is from Sapulpa and joined the army in 2015, and was most recently stationed in Fort Hood.
Just days before he was to be released from the army, Wedel-Morales disappeared. The army gave him an AWOL status, then classified him as a deserter after 30 days.
The family says they begged the army to investigate and search for him, but no search efforts happened until February 2020.
On Friday, his remains were found in a field just ten minutes away from Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas. They were discovered thanks to information from a tip to police.
Investigators with Killeen Police Department say they believe foul play was involved in his death. They are searching for suspects and leads at this time.
Since Wedel-Morales has a “deserter” status, he cannot be buried with military honors like the family wants. They say the army is waiting on an autopsy to see when he died before changing his status to active military. They wish to honor his service through a military burial and bury him in the Fort Gibson National Cemetery.
The family has started a petition to change the army’s protocol to quickly categorize someone as AWOL or deserter. They say if an investigation began sooner, It could have prevented his death or led to more information and leads early on.
The army is offering a $25,000 reward for information in this case.
Fort Hood officials say Wedel-Morales’ case is not linked to the disappearance of Vanessa Guillen, who has been missing since April.
Fort Hood released the following statement regarding Wedel-Morales status:
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of PV2 Gregory Morales. Our thoughts and prayers are with his Family, Friends and Fellow troopers as they grieve his passing. The unit is fully cooperating with the local authorities who are leading the investigation. We cannot take further action on his status until an autopsy is complete and the cause of death and the time of death are determined. Unit leadership is in contact with his Family and providing support, as permitted by Army policy, during this difficult time. We will remain in contact with the Family and investigators throughout this process, " said LTC Chris Brautigam, Public Affairs Officer, 1st Cavalry Division.