Widow of slain Fort Hood soldier arrested in animal cruelty investigation

Published: Jul. 16, 2020 at 4:13 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 17, 2020 at 10:24 AM CDT
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FORT HOOD, Texas (KWTX) – Penny Morales, the widow of Fort Hood Pvt. Gregory Wedel-Morales, who was declared AWOL after disappearing in August 2019 and whose remains were found last month during a search of a wooded field, was arrested Thursday at her on-post residence in what officials said is an animal cruelty investigation.

Fort Hood MPs received a complaint about animal cruelty or neglect at around 10 a.m. Thursday, the post said.

Morales, the post said, “was placed under apprehension at her on-post residence and transported to the Military Police Station for possible cruelty to non-livestock animals charges.”

“There is no indication that this incident was related to the case looking into the death investigation of Pvt. Gregory Morales,” officials said.

Morales disappeared without a trace on Aug. 19, 2019.

He was first declared AWOL and later was added to the Army's deserters list.

His fate remained a mystery until skeletal remains were found on June 19 during a K-9 search of a wooded field in the 3200 block of Florence Road in Killeen.

Fort Hood's Criminal Investigation Division contacted Killeen police in reference to a tip it received.

Investigators later determined the remains were Morales'.

His name was removed last week from deserters list and on Wednesday Fort Hood confirmed he’ll be reinstated and is entitled to a military funeral and benefits, Fort Hood confirmed Wednesday.

"His status was administratively changed based on trustworthy investigative updates into his disappearance in coordination with investigators," the post said in a press release Wednesday.

The change in status means Wedel-Morales, who was posthumously promoted to Pvt. Second Class, may now be buried with full military honors, the post said.

“While no words or gestures can make up for the loss of a family member, friend, or fellow soldier like Gregory Morales, we hope that this news will comfort his family and the friends he served with in this time of terrible grief,” said Maj. Gen. Jeffery Broadwater, commanding general of the 1st Cavalry Division.

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