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Friends puzzled by death of Fort Hood soldier who evidently drowned

Published: Jul. 21, 2020 at 3:26 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 23, 2020 at 7:46 PM CDT
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FORT HOOD, Texas (KWTX) – Friends of Fort Hood Pvt. Mejhor Morta, 26, of Pensacola, Florida, found dead last Friday in the area of Stillhouse Hollow Lake, say they’re puzzled and concerned.

Some fishermen in a boat found Morta’s body just after midnight Friday morning at the base of the lake’s dam.

A preliminary autopsy report indicates his death is consistent with drowning.

"We used to talk about a lot of stuff and he told me he didn't know how to swim," said Jermaine Hamlin, who underwent basic training with Morta at Fort Benning, Ga.

Hamlin said he didn’t know if Morta liked to fish, but said he wouldn’t be surprised if the private had gone to the lake to meditate and read.

“He meant a lot to me,” he said.

“It’s kind of hard to talk about it…he always kept a smile on my face.”

Morta was discovered missing on July 16.

“As soon as his unit identified his absence, they immediately searched the unit area and reached out to his family and friends to attempt to locate him,” Fort Hood said.

Morta’s death was the fourth involving a Fort Hood soldier in the past two months.

Another friend from basic training, David Fox, expressed concern about safety at the post.

“In my duty station I feel safe, but for those in Fort Hood Texas I am sorry for them. I don’t know what’s going on there,” he said.

Pfc. Brandon Rosecrans was shot to death on May 18 along Fuller Lane just north of the western end of Stillhouse Hollow Lake.

His burning Jeep was later found near the 2500 block of Jubilation Drive.

He was killed just days before his 28th birthday.

On June 19 investigators found the skeletal remains of Pvt. Gregory Wedel-Morales during a K-9 search of a field in the 3200 block of Florence Road in Killeen.

He disappeared without a trace on Aug. 19, 2019.

He was first declared AWOL and later was added to the Army’s deserters list.

He has since been reinstated and posthumously promoted to private second class.

On June 30, contractors working on a fence along the Leon River discovered what appeared to be human remains that were later identified as those of Spc. Vanessa Guillen, 20, who was last seen sometime between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on April 22 in the parking lot of her 3rd Cavalry Regiment Engineer Squadron Headquarters.

According to court documents, another soldier who later killed himself as police approached beat her to death with a hammer.

He and his girlfriend, who remains in federal custody, later dismembered and tried to burn the remains, the documents say.

Morta joined the Army in September 2019 had had been assigned since Mayi to Fort Hood’s 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division.

“The Black Knight family is truly heartbroken by the tragic loss of Private Mejhor Morta. I would like to send my heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and loved ones,” said Lt. Col. Neil Armstrong, commander of 1st Bn. 5th Cav. Regt.

“My thoughts and prayers are with them during this difficult time. Private Morta was a great Trooper and this loss is felt by every member within our formation.”

The Bell County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the circumstances of Morta’s death.

Copyright 2020 KWTX. All rights reserved.

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