EVANS MILLS, N.Y. – A Fort Drum soldier was arrested at a hotel in southern Ohio early Wednesday on a warrant charging him in the stabbing deaths of two fellow servicemen at an apartment near the military post in northern New York.
The bodies of Waide James, 20, and Diego Valbuena, 23, each with multiple stab wounds, were found Tuesday morning in an apartment complex housing mostly military families in Evans Mills near the post's main entrance. Fort Drum is the 10th Mountain Division's home base.
A warrant was issued charging Joshua Hunter, 20, with two counts of second-degree murder, county prosecutor Cindy Intschert said at a news conference. Based on a tip provided by New York authorities, Hunter was arrested at a hotel in Wheelersburg, Ohio, at about 2:30 a.m. Wednesday, said Capt. David Hall of the Scioto County Sheriff's Office.
Deputies called Hunter's cell phone and told him to surrender, which he did without incident, Hall said. Hunter is in custody at the county jail in nearby Portsmouth, Ohio.
"The impression we have right now is there's only one suspect," Tim Dowe, the Jefferson County undersheriff, said in a telephone interview.
Dowe declined to provide a motive or say whether a murder weapon was recovered. Autopsies were scheduled Wednesday.
Hunter did not have a lawyer. He will likely be appointed one during a video arraignment at 11 a.m. Thursday with Portsmouth Municipal Court, Hall said.
Hunter indicated to deputies that he did not intend to fight extradition, Hall said.
The killings came a little more than three weeks after an Army psychiatrist was accused of killing 13 people at Fort Hood in Texas.
Hunter's father, Jim Hunter of Ona, W.Va., told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that his son spent 15 months in Iraq and had been back for about four months. He said he had seen his son in October and "seemed to be doing good."
Jim Hunter described his son as "a pretty outgoing kid" who was married, but had no children, and lived off base.
Sheriff's deputies in New York, he said, had not provided much information. "They told us not to come up until they get him from wherever he's at," he said.
In September, James and Valbuena graduated from Fort Drum's Warrior Leaders Course, which teaches skills required to lead, train, fight and accomplish the mission as noncommissioned officers. They and Hunter all listed each other as friends on their MySpace pages.
On his MySpace page, Valbuena wrote that he was born in Bogota, Colombia, and had joined the military in August 2008. He also wrote that he'd been deployed to Iraq.
"We're just trying to digest the news," Valbuena's brother, Sergio Valbuena, told The Associated Press on Wednesday. "It's really hard."
Specialists James, of Cocoa, Fla., and Valbuena, of Port Saint Lucie, Fla., served as motor transport operators with the Headquarters Battalion of the 10th Mountain Division, according to Fort Drum's public affairs office.
James joined the Army in March 2007 and arrived at Fort Drum in July of that year, while Valbuena joined in August 2007 and came to Fort Drum in January 2008. Both have received awards and decorations including the Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, and overseas service ribbon.
On his MySpace page, Hunter says that he's married and has a dog, that his favorite book is J.D. Salinger's "The Catcher in the Rye," and his hero is James Dean. In an expletive-laced tirade posted on the site, he also describes himself as "cold and heartless" and says unhappiness "can be a way of life."
"i am angry at the world and i will take it out on anyone," he wrote.
He writes that he graduated from Cabell Midland High School in Ona in 2007 and attended Calvary Baptist Academy in Hurricane, W.Va., from 2005 to 2006.