Army Sergeant Tyrone Hassel III not only excelled as an active-duty soldier but also demonstrated his dedication as a loving father, dutiful son, and devoted husband. On New Year’s Eve in 2018, his wife, Kemia Hassel, made a 911 call reporting that her husband had been shot. Unfortunately, Tyrone succumbed to his injuries, leaving the police puzzled about the assailant’s identity. ’20/20: Love. Honor. Betray’ explores how law enforcement gathered evidence, ultimately revealing that it was Kemia Hassel who orchestrated her husband’s murder in collaboration with her boyfriend, Jeremy Cuellar.
Who is Kemia Hassel?
Army Specialist Kemia Hassel, an active-duty soldier, entered into matrimony with Army Sergeant Tyrone Hassel III at a young age. They met while serving the country and ultimately on May 17, 2017. Initially, their marriage appeared stable and strong, seemingly fortified by a shared understanding of the demands of their military professions. The couple soon expanded their family by welcoming a son, Tyrone Hassel IV. Despite the facade of stability, their life behind closed doors suggested a different story. Allegedly, 22-year-old Kemia expressed dissatisfaction with her 23-year-old husband’s demanding work schedule.
The couple was stationed at the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, at Fort Stewart, Georgia, for some time. It was at this military assignment that Kemia encountered another soldier, Jeremy Cuellar. A romantic relationship developed between her and Jeremy, and given the close-knit nature of their living quarters, news of the affair spread quickly among their peers. Rumors circulated that when Tyrone became aware of the infidelity, he allegedly opted to ignore the situation and chose not to confront his wife about the affair.
During a vacation back in Benton Harbor, Michigan, Tyrone and Kemia, accompanied by their son, resided at Tyrone’s father’s residence in St. Joseph Township. On December 31, 2018, Tyrone attended a cookout organized by his father while his wife opted to stay home. Upon returning with food for his wife, Tyrone was shot in the driveway of the house. Kemia made the 911 call and reported the shootout. He had sustained three gunshot wounds and ultimately succumbed to the injuries at the hospital.
After the case initially went cold for a few days, a crucial breakthrough emerged when the police received a tip about a week following the incident. The tip originated from another army official who was acquainted with Jeremy Cuellar. This individual disclosed that Jeremy had discussed the murder with him, leading the authorities to suspect his involvement. Subsequently, he was taken into custody, and during interrogation, he confessed to the crime, providing detailed information about Kemia’s role in orchestrating the entire incident.
Kemia, on the other hand, proved more resistant during police questioning. To establish her culpability, she underwent a polygraph test, which played a pivotal role in confirming her involvement in the crime. The investigation brought to light that she had been planning to murder her husband for a long time. She said that the plan had come to fruition between February and October 2018, when she and Jeremy were stationed in South Korea. She and her boyfriend communicated extensively through Snapchat, a social media app known for its disappearing messages, in an attempt to avoid detection.
She disclosed that Jeremy had made four visits to Michigan between December 19 and December 31, receiving regular updates from her about her husband’s whereabouts. Kemia admitted her full culpability, acknowledging that she was as guilty as her boyfriend in orchestrating and executing the crime. When questioned about why she hadn’t pursued a divorce instead of resorting to such a drastic measure, Kemia revealed to the authorities that her motive extended beyond the desire to end the marriage. She admitted that a significant factor in her decision was the prospect of benefiting from the $400,000 life insurance that she would receive in the event of Tyrone’s death.
Kemia Hassel is Serving a Life Sentence Today
Having initially pleaded not guilty to the charges against her, Kemia Hassel faced trial in July 2019. The jury ultimately found her guilty of conspiracy to commit murder and first-degree murder. Following the trial, she received a life sentence without the possibility of parole. In 2022, she sought a new trial, arguing that her defense counsel failed to challenge the admissibility of her self-incriminating police statements and neglected to present evidence of her being a victim of battered woman syndrome. The Michigan Court of Appeals dismissed her petition. At 26, Kemia is currently incarcerated and serving her sentence at the Women’s Huron Valley Complex in Michigan, marking the culmination of a legal process that unfolded after the murder of Army Sergeant Tyrone Hassel III.