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Ex-Soldier From Florida Charged With Pregnant Soldier’s 2001 Cold Case Killing On German Base
U.S. Army Pfc. Amanda Gonzales was found asphyxiated to death inside the barracks at Germany’s Hanau Army Airfield in 2001. She was four months pregnant at the time.
A Florida man and former soldier was jailed on murder charges in the killing of a pregnant soldier whose body was found in the barracks of a former U.S. military airfield in Germany more than two decades ago.
Shannon L. Wilkerson was identified as the accused killer of 19-year-old U.S. Army Pfc. Amanda Gonzales, who was found dead at a Hanau, Germany air base in 2001, the Department of Justice announced on Thursday.
Wilkerson was arrested and charged with one count of first-degree murder. He pleaded not guilty during a court hearing on Thursday, according to a court filing cited by Stars and Stripes. Officials added that the 42-year-old was charged under the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act, which gives the federal government jurisdiction to charge former Armed Forces members with alleged crimes committed on foreign soil.
On Nov. 5, 2001, Gonzales’ body was found on her third-floor barracks room at Germany’s Hanau Army Airfield. Her death was ruled homicide by asphyxiation. At the time of her death, Gonzales was on her first Army assignment and was assigned to the 127th Aviation Support Battalion as a cook.
Wilkerson was also a member of the U.S. Armed Forces at the time, federal prosecutors said last week. He was later discharged. Authorities haven’t specified what specific evidence tied Wilkerson to Gonzales’ murder after nearly 22 years.
"We are confident that someone out there knows something about the untimely death of this Soldier and her unborn child, and we are not giving up,” The United States Army CID spokesperson Chris Gray said in a 2011 statement. "We strongly encourage anyone with information to contact us immediately."
In the wake of her death, friends and family of Gonzales had described her as an “inspiration,” who was “loved by many,” according to a rewards flyer from 2001 that was cited by Stars and Stripes. At the time of her slaying, she was four months pregnant. Her unborn child was expected in March 2002.
Over the decades, the unsolved case had tormented Gonzales’ family.
"It's frustrating as hell," Gonzales’ father, Santos Gonzales, said in a 2008 interview with Stars and Stripes. "That was my first daughter, my only daughter ... I know she had been in a struggle. I want some answers and maybe get a little closure."
For her family, the pain of Gonzales’ killing was further exacerbated by the added loss of her unborn baby.
"They took away my daughter and first grandchild," Gloria Bates, Gonzales’ mother, told Stars and Stripes in 2008. "But I've actually forgiven (whoever killed her daughter). I've found it in my heart."
Wilkerson faces the possibility of life in prison if convicted in the 2001 killing. It's unclear if he's retained legal representation to comment on his behalf. The case remains open and active. The FBI is investigating.