When the reports of US Army soldiers in Afghanistan allegedly killing civilians started floating around in 2010, the severity of the accusations was still unknown. The investigation eventually revealed what no one was prepared for – severed fingers, disturbing photos of soldiers with Afghan victims, drug use, conspiracy to murder, and much more – basically indicating the brutality of what had taken place. The allegations were leveled against one unit in particular, which included the members of the 5th Stryker Brigade or the Bravo Company, then headed by Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs.
This incident pertaining to the “kill team,” which was also highlighted in a Rolling Stone report, caught the attention of director Dan Krauss, who first created a documentary titled ‘The Kill Team’ in 2013 with soldiers central to the narrative and then adapted it into a feature film later of the same name in 2019. While the involvement of 12 soldiers was initially suspected, five of them, including Gibbs, were finally charged with at least three murders of innocent civilians in Afghanistan. It was alleged that the team “killed for sport” and was responsible for three murders over a couple of months in particular.
In the first one, the victim was a 15-year-old boy who was killed with a grenade and shots fired by a machine gun. The others were also unarmed victims who were killed with weapons planted next to them, which is also part of the charges of many of these soldiers. These shocking crimes all came to be associated with Gibbs, especially since he confessed to collecting body parts as trophies, even if he didn’t plead guilty to his involvement in the murders. Apart from him, Andrew Holmes, Michael Wagnon, Jeremy Morlock, and Adam Winfield were also implicated in the case but met different fates.
Andrew Holmes is Out of Jail
Andrew Holmes from Idaho was only 18 when he began his training and immediately got posted in Afghanistan with the unit to search for Taliban bombers. The former Private First Class, who was the youngest of the lot, admitted that during one of his patrols with his senior Jeremy Morlock, he came across a teenager, Gul Mudin, who he knew wasn’t armed. He claimed that Morlock then threw a grenade he had acquired from Gibbs previously and instructed Holmes to fire at the boy.
At that point, Holmes felt this was what his training was leading to, and he followed his superior’s instructions and even admitted to having posed with his corpse, the photo of which later was revealed to the world. He even admitted to acquiring a finger that came as a “gift” from Gibbs for his first kill. Holmes pled guilty to charges of murder, drug use and possession of a body part, which was given to him allegedly by Gibbs during his court martial in September 2011. He has since expressed regret for his involvement and claimed that he feels bad about the victim’s family.
He was sentenced to seven years in jail but was released early as he took the opportunity to work on himself and finally got released in 2015 for good behavior. Post his release, his father, Forest Holmes, felt he could use a barber’s certificate he acquired in 2008 for his new life ahead to get a job. While his current whereabouts are unclear, after getting released, Holmes got a job as a technician at an RV lot near Garden City in Idaho. He has received support from his family throughout and feels grateful for the same, and hopes that he can do something with his life.
Michael Wagnon is Hoping for an Honorary Discharge
Not much is heard in this case about Army Specialist Michael Wagnon because his charges were dismissed pretty early on, and he didn’t receive any jail time. From Pallyup, Washington, Wagnon was accused in the second murder of Afghan civilian Marach Agha, along with Gibbs and Morlock. He was the eldest of the lot at that time at 30 years old, even older than Sergent Gibbs, who was 26. In his testimony, Wagnon admitted to shooting an Afghan man but only because he thought the man had fired at Gibbs. He claimed he wasn’t involved in any illegal activity and was just trying to help his colleague.
Wagnon was released from custody in June 2011, and his charges were dropped “in the interest of justice.” After his release, he is believed to still be working at the base as a soldier. While Wagnon was pleased after this verdict, he was most recently spotted in July 2019 trying to get an honorable discharge, which was given to Justin Stoner for acting as a whistle-blower in the case. When Wagnon was released, he was given an “other than honorable” discharge, which he wanted to convert to an honorable discharge in 2019. This is the last that was heard from Wagnon, and the events after that are unclear.
Jeremy Morlock is Still in Jail
A name that has been associated with all three murders is of former Army Specialist Jeremy Morlock, who was 23-years-old when he allegedly participated in the killings. During the investigation, Morlock admitted to murdering all the civilians but claimed that he was instructed to do that by Gibbs, who he feels was the mastermind. Morlock, in 2011, was sentenced to 24 years in prison with a possibility of parole after seven years since he agreed to testify against his colleagues and highlight their involvement. He has maintained that Gibbs always disliked Afghans, which is why it was his idea to kill for sport.
While Morlock also insisted on Wagnon’s involvement in one of the murders, Wagnon was still cleared of his charges. He also claimed that Holmes was a willing accomplice, even if Holmes insisted that he only killed since he felt the pressure of following his superior’s instructions. Apart from Holmes, Morlock has also been spotted in the pictures of the crime scene that were released. It is believed that he is still serving his sentence of up to 24 years in military prison.
Adam Winfield is Married Now
A former Specialist whose rank was reduced to Private after the controversy, Adam Winfield is probably the most known soldier of the lot due to his involvement as the lead in Krauss’ documentary and feature film of the same name. Just like Stoner, Winfield knew something wrong was happening all along and tried to resist his team’s efforts to make him kill innocent people. The investigation has also taken note of his Facebook messages to his father, Christopher Winfield, who was an ex-marine, where he allegedly discussed that he felt stuck with colleagues who were involved with murder and didn’t know how to not get involved without endangering his life.
Despite these conflicts, Winfield confessed to being a willing participant in the third murder of Mulah Adahdad since he claimed at this point he had started believing Gibbs would kill him if he protested. Even the investigation suggested from different accounts of Morlock and the other soldiers that Gibbs was planning to target Winfield for not cooperating with the team. Due to these circumstances, he was given a reduced sentence of three years and was freed from prison in 2012 with a bad conduct discharge. Even if not much is known about his current whereabouts, Krauss claimed in an interview that Winfield went on to study American history in the hopes of living a normal life and even got married in 2019.
Read More: The Kill Team’s True Story, Explained