Medical examiner ruled his death a homicide by strangulation.
In October, I blogged that the Navy opened an investigation to determine if two members of Navy SEAL Team 6 strangled Staff Sgt. Logan J. Melgar, a 34-year-old Green Beret, in Mali last June.
The Daily Beast has now released a report the men killed Melgar after he uncovered their theft scheme to pocket money from an informant fund.
The Intercept identified one of the SEALs as Petty Officer Anthony E. DeDolph, a former professional MMA fighter. The other suspect has not yet been identified.
The Daily Beast reported that the U.S. presence in Mali is small, but the small amount of special forces “aid U.S. diplomats, Malian soldiers and their French partners in gathering intelligence on a confluence of capable local militants trending Islamist.”
This means their actions could include cutting corners since they have little oversight. The report continued:
For example, part of the intelligence gathering operation in Mali involved a fund used to pay informants.
Melgar, two special operations sources say, discovered the SEALs were pocketing some of the money from the informant fund. The SEALS offered to cut him in, but Melgar declined, these sources said.
Right before he died, he told his wife Michelle “that he had a bad feeling about two of his partners in that effort, both of whom were members of SEAL Team Six.” He didn’t offer more details, but promised to tell her more when he came home.
Melgar was found dead on June 4:
It is unknown what specifically started the June 4 altercation at 5 a.m. but it escalated. Melgar lost consciousness—and, worse, stopped breathing. The SEALs attempted to open an airway in Melgar’s throat, officials said. It is unknown whether Melgar died immediately. The SEALs and another Green Beret, according to former AFRICOM officials, drove to a nearby French clinic seeking help. Melgar was dead when he arrived at the clinic, the official said. Asphyxiation was the cause of death.
The SEALs said that Melgar was drunk when he took part in “hand-to-hand fighting exercises,” but Melgar didn’t drink on June 4. His autopsy showed no drugs or alcohol in his system. Another source said that Melgar never drank alcohol.
The medical examiner ruled Melgar’s death a homicide from strangulation. From The Intercept:
It was only after the autopsy that DeDolph and his teammate claimed the three roommates had been “grappling” at roughly 5 a.m. in their apartment, when Melgar was put in a “chokehold.” Grappling and chokeholds are techniques often used in MMA. DeDolph and his teammate eventually told investigators that Melgar passed out while they were grappling, and they tried to resuscitate him before taking him to the medical facility, according to the military officials.
“NCIS can confirm we are investigating the death of SSGT Melgar on June 4 and that the case was transferred to NCIS from Army CID on September 25,” said Ed Buice, a spokesperson for Navy Criminal Investigative Service. “Beyond that, NCIS does not discuss details of ongoing investigations.”
Skepticism rose almost immediately:
A second former Africa Command official said Brig. Gen. Donald Bolduc, then commander of Special Operations Command-Africa, was skeptical of the initial reports from the outset. He alerted Army Criminal Investigation Command and told commanders in Mali to preserve evidence.
Melgar’s wife, Michelle, was also suspicious, three sources tell The Daily Beast. She raised concerns about the cause of death and allegations of drinking, according to three people familiar with the investigation, including providing investigators emails sent by her husband about problems he was having with the SEALs.
The military flew out the two Navy SEALs back to headquarters in Germany and placed them on administrative leave.DONATE
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