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A U.S. Army special forces soldier is accused of killing a mother of three and injuring the pregnant woman’s unborn child in Tennessee late last month.
Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Santiago, 33, was arrested for the alleged Sept. 27 murder of his wife, Meghan Santiago, according to a military press release, CNN reported.
Meghan Santiago was 32 weeks pregnant at the time of her murder, according to WTSP-TV, and her unborn child survived the attack. The expecting mother, who also initially survived the attack, was removed from life support days later, according to reports. The cause and manner of death in her murder weren’t immediately released by the military.
Joseph Santiago was stationed at Kentucky’s Fort Campbell, a military base north of the Tennessee border as a signal support systems specialist, according to ClarksvilleNow.com. Army officials, who offered condolences to Meghan Santiago’s family, have since vowed to assist law enforcement in any way possible with the pending homicide investigation.
“Meghan’s death is a tragedy,” Col. Brent Lindeman, commander of 5th Special Forces Group said in a statement issued by Fort Campbell’s Public Affairs Office. “Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends. This tragic event has shaken our entire unit. We take all allegations of domestic violence seriously, and we will provide every resource to ensure a thorough investigation."
The U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division is now on the case.
"The charges in this case are merely accusations and all soldiers accused of a crime are presumed innocent until proven guilty," the military’s release added.
Meghan Santiago’s family members said a funeral is now being planned. She’s survived by three children, including her newborn. Her loved ones said she’ll be remembered as a devoted and caring mother.
"Meghan was a good mom, ever since the time she found out she was pregnant, she was over the moon to be a mom," Kristen Varcak, her cousin, told WTSP-TV.
Meghan Santiago’s two other children are four and seven years old.
"She loved them so much,” Varcak said. “Until she took her last breath, she loved those kids."
The grieving family member added that their mother is “definitely their guardian angel now." The family has since coordinated an honor walk for the slain mother.
Other family friends said that she had previously warned them she was in a volatile situation. Her friend, Sandra Budowski, said that she’d checked in on her days before her death to see if she needed assistance leaving her marriage.
"I was like, I could definitely help you, let’s go," Budowski said. “She wasn't ready right at that point.”
Santiago was taken into custody on Sept. 28 and booked into the Grayson County Detention Center in Leitchfield, Kentucky. His attorney information wasn’t immediately available.
No further information regarding the open case was immediately released by officials. The Fort Campbell Public Affairs Office wasn’t immediately available for comment on Friday when contacted by Oxygen.com.
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