Mid questioned in probe of slaying Killing occurred in Texas

freshman placed on leave

September 06, 1996|By Tom Bowman and Scott Shane | Tom Bowman and Scott Shane,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer JoAnna Daemmrich contributed to this article.

A U.S. Naval Academy freshman was placed on leave Saturday after she was questioned by Texas police in connection with a homicide that occurred before her arrival this summer in Annapolis, academy officials and Navy sources said.

The 18-year-old midshipman allegedly told her roommates last week that she had information concerning a December 1995 slaying. She also said her boyfriend, a cadet at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., had information as well, according to law enforcement sources, who said the victim was another woman the cadet was dating.

The roommates immediately notified academy officials and police from Grand Prairie, Texas, interviewed the midshipman at the academy last week. Adm. Charles R. Larson, the academy's superintendent, alerted Lt. Gen. Paul E. Stein, superintendent of the Air Force Academy, sources said.

One Navy source said the women had been sitting around asking, "What's the worst thing you've ever done in your life?"

Capt. Tom Jurkowsky, an academy spokesman, declined to discuss the specifics of the case, releasing a statement that said, "Law enforcement officials interviewed a midshipman regarding knowledge of an alleged incident."

"The midshipman is presently on leave out of the area at home and will be until such time as the matter in resolved," said Jurkowsky. "The investigation is ongoing and no charges have been filed against any midshipman pertaining to the matter."

Cadet interviewed

Neil Talbott, an Air Force academy spokesman, said only that police from Grand Prairie this week interviewed a freshman male cadet "regarding possible knowledge of the incident." Talbott was uncertain whether the cadet was still at the academy.

The midshipman and the cadet apparently were questioned about the murder of Adrianne Jones, a 16-year-old honor student at Mansfield High School in Mansfield, Texas, between Dallas and Fort Worth.

Her body was found Dec. 4, 1995, near the edge of a field in an undeveloped section of Grand Prairie, which abuts Mansfield, said Deputy Chief Brad Geary of the Grand Prairie Police Department. She had been shot twice in the head.

Jones returned home from her job at a Mansfield restaurant the night of Dec. 3, but her family reported her missing the next morning. A passer-by found her body at 7: 30 a.m. that day.

Geary said he could not confirm or deny that his department had questioned the military academy students, though he did say he spoke yesterday with representatives of the Naval Academy and the Air Force Academy. He said his department is actively investigating Jones' murder.

"We've interviewed many people, but the case remains open," Geary said. "When you deal with a murder investigation, you're constantly running into dead ends."

Grand Prairie police in December arrested and charged a 17-year-old Mansfield youth with Jones' murder. But they dropped the charges and released the youth in January after he passed a polygraph test.

In January, they questioned a 16-year-old female classmate of Jones who was known to have a dispute with her. She also passed a polygraph test, and police said she was no longer a suspect.

Scholar and athlete

In an interview with the Dallas Morning News, Jones was described by her father, William Jones, as an outgoing and energetic girl who carried three honors courses while running cross-country. She worked 25 or more hours a week and was restoring a vintage 1940 Ford truck, he said.

But Tracy Whitus, 16, of Mansfield, who said she was Jones' best friend, said Jones had been sneaking out of the house at night during the months before her death to "party" with young Mansfield men.

"She was somebody everybody liked," Whitus said. "She had a good head on her shoulders. But a teen's going to make some mistakes."

Whitus said she had never heard of the midshipman.

Academy sources said the midshipman's roommates were immediately placed in other rooms, although Jurkowsky would only say, "We took all the appropriate action we thought was necessary."

Midshipmen are required to fill out an application asking if they have ever been arrested, convicted or fined. There are also background checks completed by the Defense Investigative Service. "There was nothing that indicated any problems to us," Jurkowsky said.

But Naval Academy officials appeared to violate Navy regulations by not alerting the Naval Criminal Investigative Service about the information and instead informing only police in Texas.

"A lot of people are upset at the Naval Academy and how they handled this," said one Navy source, who said NCIS officials and top Navy officials in the Pentagon are particularly incensed. They believe academy officials sought to avoid more negative publicity for the troubled institution by dealing quietly with local authorities in Texas and placing the woman on leave.

Under Navy regulations, suspected or alleged crimes "coming to command attention must be immediately referred to NCIS regardless of whether being investigated by state, local or other authorities."

Jurkowsky, the academy spokesman, refused to say why NCIS was not contacted, saying, "We took all the appropriate action at the time."

"We were notified officially yesterday afternoon by academy officials," said Ernest A. Simon, an NCIS spokesman, who declined to say whether he thought regulations were violated.

Pub Date: 9/06/96

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