FORT BLISS, Texas -- A military investigation launched in the wake of a U.S. Army private at Fort Bliss who went missing found "no evidence of toxic leadership, maltreatment of soldiers, criminal activity or negligence in leadership performance," officials said Friday.
But the investigative report did acknowledge that soldiers were under "remarkable stress" over the past year due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the pace of the training and deployment cycle of troops.
The probe, ordered by Fort Bliss commander Maj. Gen. Sean Bernabe, stemmed from last year's disappearance of 21-year-old Pvt. Richard Halliday, who vanished on July 23 after leaving his barracks room at the post - and has not been seen since despite a massive search effort.
Last month, Bernabe disclosed that special agents with the Army's Criminal Investigation Division (CID) "devoted over 540 investigative hours on (Halliday's) case, issued 50 subpoenas and five warrants, conducted over 160 interviews, and executed eight local searches," without any success in finding Halliday. His family has previously suggested they think he may have been the victim of foul play.
The Army on Friday reiterated a $25,000 reward it has offered for credible information about Halliday's disappearance. Tips in the case can be given by calling Fort Bliss CID at 915-568-1700 or go online at cid.army.mil.
In the months after the Army initially declared him AWOL, hundreds of soldiers and volunteers conducted searches both on- and off-post looking for Halliday, including along a 20-mile stretch of the Franklin Mountains and in McKelligon Canyon - but to no avail.
Prior to the findings released on Friday, Halliday's disappearance had already prompted one policy change after the soldier's parents complained it took the Army more than a month to notify them once their son went missing.