Fort Bliss soldier missing since 2020 declared dead

Fort Bliss soldier missing since 2020 declared dead

EL PASO, Texas (EL PASO MATTERS) — A Fort Bliss soldier who has been missing almost four years has been declared dead by the Army, officials announced on Friday.

An Army board of inquiry determined that Richard Halliday died on July 23, 2020, the day he was last seen at Fort Bliss, an Army statement said. The statement does not provide a manner or cause of death, or any indication that Halliday’s remains were recovered.

“On April 24, 2024, the Army informed the Halliday family that the preponderance of evidence provided during a board of inquiry supported changing the duty status of Pvt. Richard Halliday from missing to deceased,” the statement said. “The BOI determined that Pvt. Halliday died on July 23, 2020. The Army expresses its deepest condolences to the Halliday family and notes that this determination will allow us to further support the family under the Army Casualty Program.”

Halliday was a 21-year-old private assigned to the 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command, and his disappearance drew media attention in El Paso and elsewhere over the following months.

Records made public by the Army Criminal Investigation Division earlier this year showed that Halliday was facing numerous personal and legal challenges in the months before his disappearance.

He was arrested for driving while intoxicated by El Paso police, was stopped at the U.S.-Mexico border with a high-powered rifle, and had attempted suicide. Days before he disappeared, he told a friend that he was going to go to the Red Sands area of East El Paso and shoot himself, investigators reported.

Halliday was in the process of being administratively discharged from the Army, and was supposed to be closely watched by his unit. But the soldier assigned to monitor him on the day he disappeared didn’t report for duty on time, the records showed.

His parents, Robert and Patricia Halliday of South Carolina, have been critical of the Army’s investigation of their son’s disappearance. They have said the Army didn’t notify them their son was missing for more than a month.

Patricia Halliday has stated on social media that Richard was murdered, but hasn’t made public any supporting evidence. Over time, she has accused a number of El Paso officials and journalists of “interfering” with her son’s case, including the authors of this story. She has tied her son’s disappearance to the 2019 Walmart mass shooting a year earlier, also without providing any evidence.

The investigative files made public earlier this year show that the Army has treated Halliday’s disappearance as a cold case. In its statement to El Paso Matters and KTEP Public Radio Friday, the Army said: “We ask anyone with information about the case to contact the Army Criminal Investigation Division, which continues to maintain their investigation.”

In a social media broadcast Wednesday, after the Army notified the Halliday family that their son was now being listed as deceased, Patricia Halliday reiterated her claim that Richard was murdered. She also said on social media that she and her husband turned away the two soldiers who came to their home on Wednesday to notify them of the status change.

Fort Bliss originally considered Halliday absent without leave, or AWOL, and then switched his status to missing, which led to an investigation.

The year he disappeared, the Army changed its policy for soldiers who do not show up for duty. They are now classified as absent unknown status, which prompts law enforcement to assist in efforts to find the soldier.

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