Editor’s Note: This story was updated on 12/05/2020 to reflect the latest revelations around the case.
As reported in the Army Times, MSG William J. Lavigne was found dead in the training area of Ft. Bragg in North Carolina. A review of his uniform and decorations shows he was likely assigned to Delta Force at USASOC. The body of Timothy J. Dumas of Pinehurst, North Carolina was also found at the scene. Dumas was a veteran who had previously been stationed at Ft. Bragg.
A recent Army Times story has confirmed our initial reporting that Timothy J. Dumas had been a Warrant Officer who had served for 19 years, most of them at Ft. Bragg.
The Army states the deaths were not the result of training activity at Ft. Bragg. This rules out the two men being accidentally killed in an area where live ordinance is expended.
The latest update is that foul play is suspected in their deaths.
There were no weapons found at the scene according to Army investigators.
In 2018, MSG Lavigne was involved in the deadly off base shooting of Sergeant First Class Mark Daniel Leshikar at Lavigne’s home. According to an interview conducted with Leshikar’s mother in 2018, Lavigne and Leshikar were described as best friends. The details of the deadly confrontation are murky, but after the two men returned to Lavigne’s home following a vacation in Florida with their families, an argument broke out. Leshikar was locked out of the home but gained entry when Lavigne’s daughter opened the door for him. Armed with a screwdriver, he then confronted Lavigne who shot him. Civilian authorities found the shooting a justifiable homicide and no charges were filed against Lavigne. There is no indication that the Army took any action, under the UCMJ or otherwise, against Lavigne.
According to the Army, MSG Lavigne had enlisted in 2001. In 2007, he had graduated from the Special Forces Qualification Course. Assigned to the 1st Special Forces Group and then to USASOC, he had deployed multiple times to Afghanistan and Iraq. Lavigne’s numerous awards and decorations include two Bronze Stars, one with a “V” device for valor.
Revenge for the 2018 shooting of SFC Leshikar could have been a factor in this case given the unusual circumstances of Lavigne and Dumas’ deaths. It could also explain the limited information coming from civilian authorities and the Army’s CID.
In another curious angle to this story, Stars and Stripes relates that the two victims may have been involved in an ongoing investigation related to heroin and fentanyl trafficking on the base.
CBS reports that shell casings were found at the scene of the homicides. Backing Stars and Stripes’ story, CBS quotes an unnamed source who said that both men were the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation involving drug use and trafficking.
It could also be that the drug investigation is linked to the murder of Ft. Bragg paratrooper, Spc. Enrique Roman-Martinez’s whose decapitated head and other remains were found at Cape Lookout National Sea Shore on May 29. Roman-Martinez had been camping with some friends. According to his friends, he walked away from the campsite on May 22. The next day they reported him missing.
Given MSG Lavigne’s rank, experience, and status as a member of Delta Force, one would expect that generals at the Pentagon would also be calling HQ at Ft. Bragg and asking their own questions. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Mike Milley, is a veteran of the 5th Special Forces Group and was posted to Ft. Bragg as Commander of the United States Army Forces Command. The Acting Secretary of Defense, Christopher Miller was also with the 5th Group.
These latest deaths at Ft. Bragg could not come at a worse time for the Army as Congress is currently investigating the deaths of some 28 servicemembers this year at Ft. Hood in Texas.
Correction: The original version of this report incorrectly identified Mark Leshikar as a 1st Sergeant. He was a sergeant first class (SFC).