Plymouth soldier's family seeking justice in Kuwait trial

PLYMOUTH Adrian Wilhelm not only wants justice, he wants to see it happen. The Plymou
Cory Frolik
May 24, 2010

 

PLYMOUTH

Adrian Wilhelm not only wants justice, he wants to see it happen.

The Plymouth resident said he needs to raise about $17,000 to pay for him and two family members to attend the military inquiry into the alleged bullying and abuse of his deceased son. Wilhelm is seeking donations to fund the trip.

The Article 32 hearing -- similar to a civilian grand jury or preliminary hearing -- is expected to take place in Kuwait in late September or early- to mid-October.

"The exact hearing date has not been determined, (but) it is expected to occur within the next month," said Lt. Col. Kevin Olson in an e-mail.

Wilhelm's 19-year-old son, Keiffer Wilhelm, killed himself with a gunshot to the head Aug. 4.

A military investigation into the incident determined Keiffer, a 2008 graduate of Willard High School, was allegedly bullied by four Multi-National Division South soldiers. The soldiers are accused of mistreating others in their platoon with verbal abuse and physical punishment such as excessive exercise and ridicule, Olson said.

The four soldiers -- Staff Sgt. Enoch Chatman, Staff Sgt. Bob Clements, Sgt. Jarrett Taylor and Spc. Daniel Weber -- face about 25 charges, ranging from reckless endangerment to cruelty.

All of them face dishonorable discharge and between eight to 25 years in jail.

The four soldiers were removed from duty and will continue working in an administrative capacity until their military hearing, Olson said.

It's an event Wilhelm, his wife and his father don't want to miss.

Wilhelm said he is unsure whether he'll be allowed to speak at the trial, but he doesn't want to risk passing up the chance to let the court and the perpetrators know the pain Keiffer's death has caused his friends and family.

"I want to see the people who did this to him and see they don't walk away," Wilhelm said.

Keiffer's family members and friends have said the young man had no history of depression and was in high spirits up through the time he shipped off to Iraq.

It came as a shock when he killed himself less than 10 days into his deployment in the Maysan province, a southeast portion of Iraq located along the Iran border.

His mother, Kathe, told the Associated Press her son called her twice from Iraq to say he was being forced to run with rocks in his pockets that bloodied his knees and spent hours in a dirt pile doing push-ups and sit-ups.

Kathe also told reporters her son complained that his things went missing. Keiffer's girlfriend, Amanda Lane, told the Register the same thing -- that in phone conversations, he said he was upset that his stuff was disappearing.

Wilhelm said if there's money left over after the trip is covered, it will be used to buy his son a decent headstone.

Want to donate:

What: The Memorial Fund for Keiffer Wilhelm

Donations can be made to the FirstMerit Bank, 501 Fort Ball Road, Willard, 44890.