WASHINGTON (FOX19) - Military records in the nation's capital, obtained by FOX19's investigative team, show that two of the suspects in the murder and dismemberment case in Northern Kentucky received multiple medals for their service.
But in at least one case, FOX19 has uncovered signs of trouble while one of the Marines was deployed in Afghanistan.
As authorities announce Wednesday they're suspending the search for more of the victim's body parts and identify the victim for the first time, the military records FOX19 obtained give some insight into the lives of two of the three men who, according to a sheriff's spokesman, wanted to "rid the world of evil" by kidnapping, killing, and dismembering a suspected heroin dealer.
Stephen E. Harkness of Verona, Kentucky, served as a water support technician with the Marines in Afghanistan. Just like it sounds, a water support technician is responsible for making sure fellow Marines get drinking water and are able to take showers.
According to Harkness's military record, he served only about two months in Afghanistan. But a Marine's tour of duty in Afghanistan usually lasts about seven months, a spokesman for the 2nd Marine Logistics Group at Camp Lejeune tells FOX19.
Harkness was under the command of the Camp Lejeune-based logistics group.
"I cannot confirm the specific reason why his deployment to Afghanistan appears to be shorter than the normal six to seven month period," said Lt. Jim Stenger, a Marine Corps spokesman at Camp Lejeune. He said Marines' personnel records are protected by the federal Privacy Act.
Another sign of trouble in Harkness's life is the fact that he left Kentucky in March 2011 as a lance corporal, according to a newspaper profile of him at the time.
However, the records obtained by FOX19 show that when he left the Marines a year ago this month he had been demoted one notch to private first class.
Boone County sheriff's spokesman Tom Scheben said Tuesday that at least one of the suspects in this case was dishonorably discharged from the Marines.
"One of them, for example, is an ex-Marine," Scheben said. "And I say ex-Marine because he was dishonorably discharged, to the best of my knowledge. And two of his buddies, I guess, fall into that same mindset, perhaps. Not the Marine mindset; the dishonorably discharged Marine mindset."
Scheben told FOX19 this afternoon he had no further information to provide. The Marines won't comment about Harkness's discharge.
Harkness's record indicates he received the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, and NATO Medal for service in Afghanistan. Just as their titles indicate, these medals honor service only. In and of themselves, they are not necessarily indications of particular ability, honor, or courage under fire.
Jefferey W. Allen of Verona, Kentucky, also served in the Marines. He was assigned to the 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion at 29 Palms, California.
This battalion is known as the "Wolf Pack."
They're the Marines who quickly deployed to the Middle East after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in the summer of 1990.
Allen never served overseas, according to the military records obtained by FOX19.
A press release from November 2010 shows the 3rd LAR was headed to Afghanistan about four months before Allen joined the Marines.
The battalion was scheduled to return in May 2011. Allen joined the Marines on March 7, 2011, possibly missing his chance to serve in Afghanistan.
FOX19 has contacted a 29 Palms spokesman to see if Allen's battalion deployed during any other periods during Allen's time in the Marines.
Allen sure didn't serve long, though. He left the Marines on October 29, 2012, just 20 months after joining. The Marines won't say what type of discharge Allen received.
Harkness, Allen, and 23-year-old Anthony Baumgartner of Florence now face charges of murder, kidnapping, abuse of a corpse, and tampering with physical evidence.