Fort Hood Soldier Arrested in Connection With Killing of Chelsea Cheatham, Whose Body Was Found in Motel Room

Cory Grafton, 20, is being held in lieu of $1 million bail.
Cory Grafton is being held in lieu of $1 million bail, police said. Killeen Police Department

A Fort Hood soldier has been arrested in the 2019 killing of 32-year-old Chelsea Cheatham, whose body was found in a Texas motel room. Spc. Cory Grafton, 20, was taken into custody Tuesday and has been charged with first-degree murder, according to the Killeen Police Department. He is being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Bell County Jail.

Grafton, who is on active duty at the sprawling Army base, was at the scene when Cheatham was killed at a Days Inn motel in Killeen, police said. His DNA recently matched samples taken from the victim's body in an autopsy, authorities said.

A cause of death was not released by police.

Grafton is the latest person to be arrested in a series of alleged violent crimes connected to the troubled base outside Killeen, which is the third-largest U.S. military installation.

There are several congressional, police and military investigations involving deaths in and around the base, which has the highest number of crime, sexual harassment and sexual assault cases in the Army, the U.S. Army Secretary has told reporters and Congress this year.

Public scrutiny of the installation began in April, when 20-year-old soldier Vanessa Guillen disappeared from her post. Her dismembered body was found two months later, about 20 miles away, buried in concrete. A fellow soldier, who shot himself to death as authorities approached, was her killer, according to the military and police.

A civilian was arrested in connection with Guillen's death and has pleaded not guilty and currently awaits trial. 

The U.S. Army announced in September that Fort Hood’s top commander, Maj. Gen. Scott Efflandt, was being reassigned to deputy commanding general as investigations of Guillen's death and allegations of sexual harassment were conducted.

A September investigation published by The New York Times said that since 2016, more Fort Hood troops have died from homicides in the area than have died in combat zones. The reported found 159 noncombat deaths of Fort Hood soldiers since the beginning of 2016, which included seven homicides and 71 suicides.

RELATED STORIES

Fort Hood Officials Say Vanessa Guillén Died 'in the Line of Duty'

Vanessa Guillen's Killing Gives Way to Claims of Sexual Harassment, Abuse in the Military, and Hope for Change

Fort Hood Commander Relieved of Post, Denied Transfer After Deaths of Vanessa Guillen and Other Soldiers