An Air Force colonel facing life in prison for rape at an October court-martial apparently took his own life Sunday, police said.
Colorado Springs police spokesman Sgt. Tim Stankey said Monday that officers were called to Col. Eugene Marcus Caughey’s home in northeast Colorado Springs just after midnight Sunday on a reported suicide. Police did not say what killed the former vice commander of Schriever Air Force Base’s 50th Space Wing.
“We are investigating it as a death of an undetermined origin,” Stankey said. “We are waiting on autopsy results from the Coroner’s Office.”
Stankey said there’s no suspicion anyone else was involved in Caughey’s death.
Caughey, 46, came under scrutiny in 2015 while serving in the No. 2 post at the Schriever wing after he was allegedly caught with an unregistered firearm at a residence on the base. In December, the Air Force issued a 14-count charge sheet against the colonel after months of investigation revealed an alleged series of extramarital affairs dating to 2013, and an allegation of rape.
Caughey was suspended from his Schriever job and reassigned to Air Force Space Command’s headquarters pending trial.
An additional charge sheet, released to The Gazette on Monday, alleged that Caughey had forced a woman to give him oral sex and photographed a naked woman “without her consent.”
A 23-year Air Force veteran, Caughey’s responsibilities included running a 22-nation missile defense war game in 2014 for U.S. Strategic Command. At Schriever, he was the No. 2 officer in the wing, which oversees the military’s navigation and communication satellites.
He was also a survivor of the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon, according to a story in Schriever Air Force Base’s website.
That sterling record, though, hid a troubled life revealed at pretrial hearings.
At a March hearing, Caughey’s alleged victims were identified by initials, and at least a half-dozen came up in an alphabet soup that led to several pauses for clarification. Caughey’s civilian lawyer, Ryan Coward, portrayed several of the women as spurned lovers, driven by rage after they learned of the married colonel’s philandering.
Tim Grantonic, Air Force Office of Special Investigations special agent, testified that at least two of the women began asking questions, investigating the colonel’s love life even as Air Force officials ran a military investigation.
During hearings, most evidence against Caughey was shielded from public scrutiny, but that was likely to change during his October court-martial.
Witnesses were expected to include six paramours and a woman who alleged that Caughey raped her “while holding her against the wall and floor,” court papers say. That rape charge could have brought life behind bars under military law.
Another incident set to be aired at the trial was an allegation that the colonel took a picture of his genitalia “while in uniform and seated in his office.”
In pretrial hearings, lawyers for Caughey questioned the colonel’s mental stability. Coward argued that a military review of Caughey’s sanity failed to consider evidence from his “civilian providers.”
On Monday, Coward called Caughey’s death a tragedy.
“I think Col. Caughey served honorably for more than 20 years, and what happened is very unfortunate,” he said. “His family is dealing with a lot, and I would ask that folks respect their privacy as they deal with the loss.”
Assembling a jury to try Caughey was a mountainous task for the Air Force, which was rounding up colonels and generals from around the Pikes Peak region for his court-martial because military jurors must be equal to or senior in rank to the accused.
© 2016 The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.