"Shocking Cold Case Breakthrough: Ex-U.S. Soldier Found Guilty of Murder on German Army Base"

A man was convicted in the 2001 murder of Amanda Gonzales, a U.S. Army soldier who was 19 at the time of her death.

"Shocking Cold Case Breakthrough: Ex-U.S. Soldier Found Guilty of Murder on German Army Base"
08 May 2024, 06:18 PM
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Former U.S. Army Soldier Convicted of Killing Pregnant Colleague in Germany

A former United States Army soldier has been convicted of killing a pregnant colleague in Germany more than two decades ago. Jurors in federal court in Pensacola, Florida, found 43-year-old Shannon Wilkerson guilty of murder for the 2001 death of Amanda Gonzales, another former soldier, at a base in Hanau, the U.S. Department of Justice announced on Tuesday. 

Wilkerson beat and strangled Gonzales to death inside her room at Fliegerhorst Kaserne, a former U.S. Army base and military barracks, on Nov. 3, 2001, the Justice Department said, citing court documents and evidence shown during the criminal trial. His conviction on a second-degree murder charge could carry a maximum sentence of life in prison. A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for Aug. 8.

Gonzales was 19 at the time of her death and four months pregnant. Authorities say that Wilkerson believed she was pregnant with his child. 

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, which helped lead the decadeslong probe into Gonzales' murder, previously said that her body was found in the barracks room two days after her death, on Nov. 5, 2001, because she had not shown up for work. Gonzales was employed as a cook on the U.S. Army base in Hanau.

A medical examiner later ruled that asphyxiation had caused her death, and homicide investigation got underway, according to the FBI.

Wilkerson was arrested in Florida on a first-degree murder charge in February 2023, more than 21 years after Gonzales was killed. By then, he had been discharged from the Armed Forces, although the timeline of his discharge and the reasons for it have not been made clear. Neither have many of the details surrounding Gonzales' murder and Wilkerson's possible motives for carrying it out. CBS News contacted the U.S. Department of Justice for more information but did not receive an immediate reply.

"The defendant violently beat and murdered Amanda Gonzales — a fellow soldier who was pregnant at the time — at a U.S. Army base in Germany in 2001," said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Nicole Argentieri, head of the Justice Department's criminal division, in a statement. "His conviction yesterday, more than two decades later, is a testament to the Justice Department's unrelenting pursuit of justice. Many dedicated law enforcement officers and prosecutors persisted for years, pursuing every available lead and never wavering in their search for evidence to hold the victim's killer to account for his heinous crime."

Charged under the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act, Wilkerson faced prosecution in U.S. federal courts for crimes committed internationally as a former military service member. Despite no longer being under the governance of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, authorities stated after his arrest that the act provides the framework for the operation of the military justice system in the U.S.