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A Fort Hood soldier has been arrested in connection to the murder of a woman who was found dead in a motel room last summer.
Cory Grafton, 20, was taken into custody on Tuesday in relation to the June 2019 murder of 32-year-old Chelsea Cheatham, the Killeen Police Department announced in a news release. After investigators with the KPD’s homicide unit received a tip that Grafton was present when Cheatham was killed, they worked with the Texas Rangers to have Grafton’s DNA tested; Grafton’s DNA allegedly proved to be a match to DNA recovered from the scene, and authorities arrested Grafton on Tuesday afternoon, police said.
Cheatham was found dead at a Days Inn in central Texas on the night of June 3, 2019, according to police. Officers arrived on the scene that day in response to reports that a woman had been found unresponsive; although police and paramedics attempted life-saving measures, she was pronounced dead and the results of an autopsy later concluded that her manner of death was homicide.
During the course of the investigation, an unnamed person who worked with Grafton allegedly told police that he had confessed to killing Cheatham, according to the Killeen Daily Herald. Grafton’s sergeant also recounted to authorities a statement Grafton allegedly made after what may have been a suicide attempt in October; he allegedly said that he was hanging out with Cheatham when she “said some stupid s—t” to him and he “said some stupid s—t back” while having his hands around her throat, an affidavit obtained by the outlet reportedly states. Grafton’s current or previous cellphone was reportedly also linked to Cheatham’s, although he initially denied ever having any conversations with her over the phone.
Grafton is a soldier with the 1st Cavalry Division, NBC News reports. Lt. Col. Chris Brautigam, a spokesperson for the division, confirmed to the news organization that their unit is cooperating with the authorities.
Grafton is facing a murder charge and remains jailed on a $1 million bond, online records show. It is unclear if he has an attorney that can speak on his behalf.
The Fort Hood military base has made numerous headlines in relation to violent crimes that have either taken place on the base or were allegedly perpetrated by soldiers stationed there. Most recently, soldier Vanessa Guillen disappeared while working a shift at the base; her body was found months later, in July, with authorities concluding that she had been beaten to death with a hammer. The man suspected of killing her — Army Specialist Aaron Robinson, who was also stationed at Fort Hood — took his own life before police could arrest him, but his girlfriend Cecily Aguilar, stands accused of helping him dispose of Guillen’s body. She pleaded not guilty in July to three counts of conspiracy to tamper with evidence.
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