Mystery Surrounds Death of U.S. Solider

AP
Friday October 05, 2007

Flashback: Were War Critic Soldiers Killed To Send Message?

There is a new mystery in Afghanistan and at its heart is the death of a U.S. soldier and the family she left behind.

Top lawmakers have gotten involved and are seeking answers from the Pentagon about Ciara Durkin and the details surrounding her death. She was killed by a gunshot wound, inside the tightly secured Bagram air base in Afghanistan.

Massachusetts Army National Guard Spc. Ciara Durkin, 29, on home leave in early September, gave her siblings what now seems ominous advice. She told them that if anything were to happen to her while she was serving to investigate.

Friday, Ciara was found dead near a church in the Bagram airfield in Afghanistan. She had been shot in the head. So far, the Army only has said that her death was not combat related.

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"We need answers. We'd like answers. We want to know how our beloved Ciara spent the last moments of her life and why was she taken from us," Ciara's sister Maura Durkin said.

Ciara was part of a National Guard Finance Unit and her siblings say recently she had told them that she was uncovering some things she didn't like  and that she was making enemies.

They thought she was joking.

Most frustrating to the family, the Army is offering very little information and no explanations. A military spokesman told ABC News that a "round-the-clock" investigation is under way.

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who has been helping the family, says it's not enough and he and is demanding answers.

In a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Kerry asked why the family had not been given autopsy results and why the Army hadn't answered the family's request for an independent autopsy.

The Durkin family, nine siblings in all, moved to Massachusetts from Ireland when Ciara was a girl. Ciara was openly gay, but her brothers and sisters doubt that had anything to do with her death.

"We keep being told it takes time, and while we understand and appreciate that, we are desperate for information," sister Diedre Durkin said.

Ciara's brother Pierce Durkin said she sounded heartbreakingly upbeat on the day she died. It was his birthday and she left him a voice mail.

"I had just missed her call and she said 'Hey Lorbell, I love you very much, I can't wait to see you,' and then she started singing 'Happy Birthday,'" he said.

Pierce said that an autopsy has been done and that results will be delivered Friday. He added that the family plans to commission an independent autopsy.

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