Paratrooper's family wants answers in mysterious death: 'It was so cruel what they did to him'

Enrique Roman-Martinez's remains were found a week after his disappearance.

July 16, 2020, 9:31 PM

The family of Specialist Enrique Roman-Martinez wants answers from the U.S. Army about the circumstances of his death and dismemberment after he disappeared during a Memorial Day camping trip with fellow soldiers to North Carolina's Outer Banks.

Six weeks after his partial remains washed up ashore, his loved ones still do not know what happened.

Roman-Martinez's family in California said that Army officials at Fort Bragg, North Carolina have not been forthcoming with details about the case, leaving them with unanswered questions about the 21-year-old paratrooper serving in the famed 82nd Airborne Division.

"It was so cruel what they did to him," Roman-Martinez's sister, Griselda Martinez, said in an interview with ABC News affiliate KABC earlier this week. "Why did they have to do that to him? He's already gone. Why did they have to go the extra step to do this to him?"

"It was really hard for us, too," she added.

PHOTO: A sign shows Fort Bragg information, May 13, 2004 in Fayettville, North Carolina.
A sign shows Fort Bragg information, May 13, 2004 in Fayettville, North Carolina.
Logan Mock-bunting/Getty Images

Roman-Martinez was camping at South Core Banks over Memorial Day weekend, with seven other soldiers, when he mysteriously disappeared from the camp site.

An unidentified person placed a call to 911 around 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 23, and said Roman-Martinez was last seen wearing blue shorts and no shirt around midnight, 19 hours before the call was placed.

The paratrooper's partial remains were found a week later, on May 29, on Shackleford Banks Island, part of the Cape Lookout National Seashore. His body was identified using dental records.

Roman-Martinez's phone and wallet were later found at the camp site, leading his family to wonder what could have prompted him to leave without them in the middle of the night.

"Because my brother can't see without his glasses, so for him to walk out in the middle of the night without his glasses, it's not likely," Martinez said. "He can't see, where would he go?"

Martinez told the Fayetteville Observer that Army officials have not told the family much about the ongoing investigation into what happened to her brother.

"Over Memorial Day weekend we lost Enrique to a senseless act of violence," Major General Christopher Donahue, the commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, said in a statement issued Thursday. "We are doing everything we can to support his family and find justice for Enrique."

"I've personally spoken with his family to assure them that we will not stop in our pursuit to bring those responsible to justice," he added. "The U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command has offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to the apprehension and conviction of the person(s) responsible for the homicide. I encourage anyone with information related to this case, regardless of how small, to contact the Fort Bragg CID Office."

An Army official told ABC News that there is no suspicion of a reprisal or hate crime motive in the case.

Donahue described Roman-Martinez as "a valued member of our team" and expressed his condolences to his family, friends and fellow paratroopers.

"My family's thoughts -- and the thoughts of the leadership of the 82nd Airborne Division -- are focused on Enrique's family and battle buddies as we mourn together," he said.