FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. - The husband of a Fort Bragg Army nurse whose remains were found amid a brush fire was charged Monday with first-degree murder and a fellow Marine was charged with being an accomplice.
Marine Cpl. John Wimunc, 23, also was charged with first-degree arson and conspiracy to commit arson in the death of his wife, Army 2nd Lt. Holley Wimunc, a nurse from Dubuque, Iowa. Her body was found Sunday — three days after a fire was discovered in her Fayetteville apartment about 130 miles northwest of Camp Lejeune, the Marine Corps base where the men are stationed.
Authorities also charged Marine Lance Cpl. Kyle Alden, 22, with first-degree arson, conspiracy to commit arson and accessory after the fact to first-degree murder. Both were arrested Sunday morning at Camp Lejeune.
The arrests were made after police interviewed Alden.
"We were able to corroborate a lot of the things he told us," Fayetteville Detective Jeff Locklear. "We used that information, interviews with witnesses ... to get the arrest warrant."
Both men were currently being held without bond in the Cumberland County jail and are scheduled to appear in court Tuesday. It wasn't immediately clear if they had attorneys.
Fayetteville police began searching for Wimunc when she didn't show up for work Thursday at Womack Army Medical Center. Co-workers could not find her at home.
Her car was in the parking lot, but she was gone. Investigators found evidence of a fire in her apartment.
Sgt. Chris Corcione said Monday that Wimunc was last seen alive the night of July 8, when she went out with friends and used her ATM card. He said investigators found several points where a fire was started inside her apartment. The fire was concentrated in the back bedroom.
While the interior walls of the burned room were black with soot, Corcione said, the fire burned itself out and left behind useable evidence. Police believe Wimunc was dead when she was taken out of the apartment, but they are not yet sure when her body was taken to Onslow County, where the brush fire occurred.
Dewey Hudson, the county's district attorney, said Wimunc's body was found near Alden's residence. Clothing and "items that a military person would have possessed" suggested it was her.
"It seems that someone tried to torch the body in the shallow grave," Hudson said. "It seems to me that the fire in that location came from the burning inside the grave."
Hudson said the attempt to burn the body set off a brush fire that drew the attention of authorities, and the body was located by Division of Forest Resources personnel near the southern border of Camp Lejeune late Sunday afternoon. He said detectives likely would never have found her body had it been burned in a brush-free area about 100 feet away.
Maj. Cliff W. Gilmore, a spokesman with the 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune, said both suspects are assigned to the division's 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion. Wimunc has served two tours in Iraq, including one tour that ended in January; Gilmore said he didn't immediately know if Alden had served in combat.
Holley Wimunc's father in Dubuque, Jesse James, said the family had lost its "thread of hope."
"Holley was a proud St. Ambrose University graduate, excited about both her chosen field of nursing and her career in the U.S. Army, following a long family tradition of service in the Unites States armed forces," he said in a statement. "She was an even more proud mother of her wonderful son and daughter whose activities and personalities never failed to give her joy."
Corcione said Holley Wimunc's two children weren't in Fayetteville when the fire was reported because she had sent them to live with her father because of a "domestic situation."
Police said the case had no connection to the death of another female Fort Bragg soldier, Spc. Megan Touma, of Cold Spring, Ky. Her decomposing body was discovered in late June in a motel near the base. Authorities have made no arrests in that case.