NC to seek death penalty in killing of Army wife from Dubuque

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP) - North Carolina prosecutors will seek the death penalty against a Camp Lejeune Marine accused of killing his Army wife last summer.

Prosecutor Cal Colyer disclosed the state's decision during a hearing Wednesday attended by Cpl. John Patrick Wimunc and his lawyers. Colyer said the death penalty is warranted because evidence shows Wimunc not only killed his estranged wife but endangered others by trying to burn her apartment after the crime, The Fayetteville Observer reported Thursday.

Wimunc's defense attorneys had no comment.

John Wimunc, 23, is charged with first-degree murder, second-degree arson and conspiracy to commit second-degree arson.

Second Lt. Holley Wimunc, 24, of Dubuque, Iowa, was a maternity ward nurse at Fort Bragg hospital when she was killed.

The couple was getting a divorce after about a year of marriage, investigators said.

Two months before her death, Holley Wimunc got a temporary restraining order to keep her husband away from her for 10 days. She said in the complaint that her husband put a gun to her head and threw her around their living room.

Holley Wimunc's parents said their family could not decide whether to urge prosecutors to pursue the death penalty.

"We have to let the people who know far more about this situation make those decisions," her father, Jesse James said by telephone from Iowa, where he is dean of admissions at the University of Dubuque.

"Whether they put John Wimunc to death or don't put John Wimunc to death," James said, "there's no such thing as closure."

Holley Wimunc was reported missing July 10, 2008, after investigators found a smoldering fire in her apartment. Three days later, firefighters near Camp Lejeune, about 100 miles east of Fort Bragg, found her charred remains in a shallow grave.

A hatchet was partially buried in her back and her legs had been severed at mid-thigh, according to an autopsy report. Fragments from a projectile were recovered from her head and left hand, the report said.

John Wimunc and Lance Cpl. Kyle Ryan Alden, 22, of Camp Lejuene, were charged the day after the remains were found. Both are combat engineers assigned to the 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, 2nd Marine Division.

Alden was charged with being an accessory after the fact, second-degree arson and conspiracy. He is accused of helping John Wimunc destroy evidence, bury the body and trying to throw investigators off by offering up a phony alibi. A police affidavit supporting a search warrant said Alden admitted his involvement.

Holley Wimunc was one of three female soldiers at Fort Bragg killed last year. In each case, a soldier or Marine who was romantically linked to the victim was charged with murder.


Information from: The Fayetteville Observer,

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

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