Army Veteran’s Throat Slashed By Fort Bliss Soldier In Fatal Drug Case
An Afghanistan war veteran's throat was cut after he begged for his life as he was killed during a drug...
An Afghanistan war veteran's throat was cut after he begged for his life as he was killed during a drug robbery earlier this month, according to court documents.
El Paso police have arrested five people — including a Fort Bliss soldier and two former soldiers — in connection with the slaying of Tyler Kaden Croke on May 7 in an apartment on the East Side.
A Fort Bliss spokesman confirmed Monday that Brandon Olsen, 27, is stationed at the Army post and that Zachary Johnston, 20, and Adam Acosta, 19, were former soldiers stationed at Fort Bliss more than a month ago.
Police also arrested Tristan Hunter Chilton, 21, and Stephanie Fernandez, 28, both of Socorro. All five have been arrested on capital murder charges.
According to a complaint affidavit filed by a homicide detective, Croke was killed during a drug robbery at the Cantera Apartments at 1501 Lomaland Drive. Croke, 23, had served in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan.
The complaint states Chilton told detectives that Acosta entered the apartment with a shotgun and was followed inside by three other suspects.
Chilton allegedly told detectives that Olsen and Johnston wrestled Croke to the floor and that Chilton held his legs down, the complaint states. A neighbor later told police that she had heard loud footsteps and a man pleading for his life.
During the confrontation, Johnston allegedly stabbed Croke and cut his throat with a knife, Chilton told detectives, according to documents. Olsen then allegedly “finished killing the victim by cutting his throat with a knife while the victim was attempting to crawl away,” the complaint states.
Drugs were then allegedly taken from Croke's home. Fernandez is accused of driving a black Nissan Xterra used as the getaway vehicle, according to documents.
The types of drugs that were stolen and how Croke might have known his alleged killers were not disclosed in the complaint document.
Shortly after 1:30 a.m., police went to the apartment after getting a call about an unknown problem and speaking to the neighbor who had heard a man begging for his life, documents state. After getting no answer at the apartment, officers opened the unlocked door and found Croke's nude body face down.
Apartment security cameras recorded a Nissan Xterra with a Texas flag/Eskimo hut sticker on its rear windshield parked at the scene. A witness had seen four people enter the vehicle, which had a person in the driver's seat, on the night of the killing, documents state.
During the investigation, detectives happened to spot the Nissan with the sticker on Socorro Road and followed it to an apartment in Socorro, where the Mission Valley Tactical Unit set up surveillance, documents state. The Nissan was later pulled over for traffic violations.
The driver, Chilton, was interviewed at police headquarters, where he allegedly told detectives what happened to Croke, documents state.
Fernandez, who was a passenger in the Nissan when it was stopped, was arrested on charges of possession of methamphetamine and cocaine and traffic warrants, police officials said. Olsen was arrested later.
Johnston and Acosta were arrested in Las Cruces and are awaiting extradition to El Paso, officials said.
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