“Two members of elite SEAL Team Six, Petty Officer Anthony E. DeDolph and Chief Petty Officer Adam C. Matthews, along with two Marine Raiders face charges that include felony murder, conspiracy, obstruction of justice, burglary, hazing, and involuntary manslaughter in the strangulation death of a Green Beret, Army Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar. All four were charged with felony murder and with lying to investigators,” the Daily Beast reported Thursday.
Thirty-four-year-old Logan Melgar, a Texas Tech graduate, joined the Army in 2012 and was a two-tour Afghanistan veteran. He was found strangled June 4, 2017. The New York Times learned in October 2017 that the Navy’s “criminal authorities” had begun a criminal investigation into Melgar’s death, which occurred while the Navy’s special forces, SEAL’s TEAM 6 and the Marine Raiders, along with Army’s Green Beret’s, were on “a secret assignment,” according to military officials at that time, in West Africa’s capital of Mali in Bamako.
The special forces were being housed at embassy housing in Bamako and “were assigned to the West African nation to help with training and counterterrorism missions.”
According to the NYT’s report, Melgar’s “superiors in Stuttgart, Germany, almost immediately suspected foul play, and dispatched an investigating officer to the scene within 24 hours.” Soon the Army sent its own Criminal Investigation Command and after investigating for several months they turned their findings over to the Navy’s Criminal Investigative Service in September 2017.
“The story surrounding the slaying of Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar,” according to a Daily Beast exclusive report on November 2017, kept “unraveling, starting with the SEALs-turned suspects’ assertion that the soldier was drunk the night he died.”
“This account is based on five members of the special-operations community who were not cleared to speak publicly.”
Logan Melgar hadn’t had a drink on June 4.
The Green Beret sergeant’s dry day became a key to unraveling the narrative spun by the elite Navy commandos whom military investigators now suspect killed him, officials familiar with the case said.
Melgar, a staff sergeant in the Army’s 3rd Special Forces Group, was specifically selected for an intelligence operation in the West African nation of Mali. He was well respected by the American Embassy staff and the partner forces there, a former U.S. Africa Command official said. But shortly before he died, Melgar told his wife that he had a bad feeling about two of his partners in that effort, both of whom were members of SEAL Team Six.
Not wanting to say much more, Melgar informed his wife, Michelle, that he’d tell her the full story when he got back home, according to an official speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation is still ongoing.Daily Beast; Nov 12 2017
What follows next is a tale of “dirty money” and a “damning excuse,” about the special forces that “operate in the shadows,” and “what their actions actually look like on the ground can be much dirtier than the heroic image the Pentagon prefers to portray.”
When gathering intelligence, for example, informants are paid from a fund set up for that use. According to the sources, Melger allegedly found out the two SEALs “were pocketing some of the money from the informant fund,” and “offered to cut in” Melger, but the sources say he declined.
(Later, it would be added that, according to sources speaking with the Daily Beast, there was “an ongoing disagreement with the Green Beret and DeDolph over the SEALs’ professionalism” and that “Melger was upset with lapses in operational security,” and that the two SEAL members “were soliciting prostitutes and taking them back to the safe house in Bamako,” and “the place ran like a frat house.”)
What followed next would appear to be a series of panic and cover-up.
Circumstances surrounding Melger’s death started with DeDolph and, at the time, an unnamed other SEAL teammate – who turned out to be Adam Matthews – saying they found Melger “unresponsive” and took him to a clinic nearby, then turned into DeDolph and Melger were wrestling and Matthew “came in and joined the horseplay,” and the three men “fell down together and when they stood up, Melgar wasn’t breathing,” according to a May 2018 NBC News report.
While it was not known specifically what started the “altercation,” the Daily Beast reported, or why the SEALs were in Megler’s room at 5 am that morning, what was known is Melgar “lost consciousness – and, worse, stopped breathing.” According to initial reports the two SEALs “attempted to open an airway in Melger’s throat,” according to officials, and the two SEALs and another Green Beret transported Megler to a clinic was already dead when they arrived.
The cause of death was listed as asphyxiation.
Melger, the SEALs then said, was “drunk during so-called combatives – that is, hand-to-hand fighting exercises.” Sources said at “least one operational report” the was written and submitted by the SEAL teammates “included an account that Melgar was drunk.”
According to the autopsy report, there were “no drugs or alcohol” in Melger’s system. According to a “former AFRICOM official who saw the report,” said that it was “the worst excuse the SEALS could have made up.” According to another source, they believed Melger didn’t drink “at all.”
Three months after Melger was found dead the two SEALS, DeDolph and Matthews, had been moved from “witnesses” to “persons of interest,” and “a medical examiner concluded that Melgar died of ‘homicide by asphyxiation,” or strangulation,” according to the autopsy report.
Melgar was part of a six-man intelligence operation in Mali supporting counterterrorism efforts against al-Qaeda’s local affiliate, known as al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Melgar reported the violation to his chain of command, drawing the ire of the SEALs and two Marine Raiders, who were also on the team assigned to assist with counterterrorism.
Then on June 4, 2017, Melgar was invited to an embassy party, and the rest of the team was not. While Melgar was gone, the two SEALs and two Marine Raiders plotted to haze Melgar for the slight, according to the source familiar with the investigation’s findings.
“They planned for hours,” the source familiar with the investigation report said.Daily Beast; Nov 15 2018
Investigation findings allege the four men, “drove to the Marine quarters … to obtain duct tape,” then returned and “confronted” Melger. The “alleged conspirators ‘entered the bedroom of SSG Melgar by breaking through his locked door,’ restrained him with the duct tape,” and DeDolph, who, it was reported by the Intercept last year, was a professional MMA fighter, “put Melger in a chokehold.”
When the men realized Melgar wasn’t breathing they attempted to revive him first by administering CPR then “opened a hole in his throat.”
After leaving the clinic where they had taken Melger and returned to the safehouse, witnesses, who were familiar with the investigation, said the men “engaged in a cover-up.” Allegations include conspiracy to “clean up evidence and coaching witnesses … providing a false timeline of events to the Navy chain of command … “purposefully” left out the duct tape … and disposed of the alcohol they kept in the shared Army-Navy quarters, and lied to investigators.”
Charges were filed against on four men on Wednesday, and while all four names in the charging sheet were redacted, the names of Navy SEALs DeDolph and Matthews have been known since last year, the names of the two Marine Raiders are still unknown at this time.
“A preliminary hearing in military court is scheduled for December 10.” The four mean could face up to life in prison.
A spokesperson for U.S. Special Operations Command said these charges do not reflect the conduct of U.S. Special Operators all over the world.
“We will not allow allegations or substantiated incidents of misconduct erode decades of honorable accomplishments by the members of US Special Operations Command,” Captain Jason Salata said. “If these allegations of misconduct are substantiated, they represent a violation of the trust and standards required of all service members.”
“We hold ourselves and each other accountable on a daily basis because we know that lives are on the line.”NBC News; Nov 15 2018