Suicide – or rape and murder?

// 25 July 2008

(Post may be triggering)

Three years ago, a US soldier, also an African-American woman, was found dead – the US Army ruled it was suicide. Now consider this description of how LaVena Johnson was found:

Her body was found in a tent belonging to the private military contractor KBR. She had abrasions all over her body, a broken nose, a black eye, burned hands, loose teeth, acid burns on her genitals, and a bullet hole in her head.

Yeah. Sounds like suicide.

Democracy Now has an interview with her parents, who have been pushing hard for an investigation. I didn’t watch the whole video, but from the transcript… well… let’s just say her parents ended up pouring over Army photos of her dead body and realising she’d probably been raped, then doused in lye to destroy the DNA evidence. Click here to find the petition.

Comments From You

Renee // Posted 25 July 2008 at 9:43 pm

When I first heard about the case of Laveena johnson I was angered and hurt. I cannot imagine what her last hours must have been like and for her parents to have to see their child like that is something I couldn’t even begin to imagine. I wanted to blog about it but I just could not and still cannot find the words to convey all of the mixed emotions that I feel, not only as a WOC but a mother. I am not a religious person but God please give this family justice because they will never know peace on this earth,.

Laurel Dearing // Posted 26 July 2008 at 10:47 am

who would possibly think someone would burn their genitals with acid? if it was some extremely bizarre fetish she wouldnt kill herself straight after! the only way this could have not been another person is if the whole tent had violently collapsed on her! i dont know why im even reasoning it out. its so obviously not a suicide! how disgusting that people can cover it up so easily. people would blame the man and not the military, but if that is their attitude then i hope they get what they deserve.

Eleanor Turner // Posted 27 July 2008 at 3:05 am

I read that transcript and that’s got to be one of the most appalling things I’ve read in a long time. Her poor, poor parents… I really feel for them. What a horrific way to die and what a way for her parents to have to sort through the muck and lies for answers.

I strongly suggest that everyone who reads this blog also reads the interview linked here. Warning: your blood may boil.

Aimee // Posted 27 July 2008 at 10:33 am

I read this yesterday and still cannot find the words to display my disgust. I cannot understand, however, what reason the army would have for covering up a rape and murder, surely the consequences of the lies and the coverups are worse for public opinion that catching a punishing the people responsible?

Laura S // Posted 31 July 2008 at 12:42 pm

I’ve been following this story, also listened to the democracy now interview with the parents of this young woman. It’s just apalling & throws up so many issues. Contractors have been provided with a loophole that ensures no charges will be brought, no matter how they behave. (See Blackwater etc) The military is complicit in this rape and murder, and unfortunately it doesn’t stop there.

(Apologies if this has already been covered)

There is a study of earlier veterans of war that indicates 30% of women are sexually assaulted and/or raped. The woman who wrote this article found levels of sexual assault of up to 90%.

She also found that women were dying of dehydration due to not drinking enough water, as they were afraid of having to go to the toilet in the night in case they were raped.

Instead of making women feel safe, and making the men aware that this would not be tolerated, the military told the surgeons who did the autopsies to stop briefing that the cause of death was dehydration, and even that it was women who were dying.

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