Fort Bliss provides update on Missing Soldier Case, Pvt. Richard Halliday

By Lt. Col. Allie PayneJanuary 14, 2021

FORT BLISS, Texas— Pvt. Richard Halliday went missing from his place of duty July 24, 2020. Fort Bliss efforts to locate Pvt. Halliday are ongoing and will continue until he is found. The whereabouts of Pvt. Halliday remain unknown.

Fort Bliss U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID) Office Special Agents lead our efforts to determine Pvt. Halliday’s whereabouts. To date, these Special Agents have devoted over 540 investigative hours on this case, issued 50 subpoenas and five warrants, conducted over 160 interviews, and executed eight local searches.

On July 24, 2020, the day Pvt. Halliday went missing, his unit conducted a series of immediate searches. The unit looked for him at the following locations: the unit’s work areas and motor pools, barracks and common areas, installation fitness centers and outdoor recreation areas, and local area hospitals and jails.

On September 1, 2020, the El Paso Police Department assisted CID with searches of four areas in El Paso based on electronic geolocation. On September 3, a large team consisting of 40 CID agents, eight installation law enforcement patrols, and 160 Soldiers and volunteers conducted a six-square-mile search centered on the headquarters of the 1st Battalion, 43rd Air Defense Artillery. This search combed through the Headquarters

building, 80 unit barracks, and the unit’s maintenance area.

On September 5, the installation searched West Fort Bliss areas. This effort focused on the installation Rail Operations Center, Sanitary Landfill road, known sinkholes, water drainages, sewage systems, water canals, and unoccupied buildings.

On September 23-24, the installation focused on parks and recreation areas. On these days, we covered over 200 miles of trails in the Franklin Mountain State Park and Indian Peak. Over 200 Soldier volunteers and Special Agents searched by ground, while U.S.

Army helicopters searched by air. On these dates, CID Agents also canvassed homeless areas and residential areas in El Paso.

On October 15 and 20, the Border Patrol Search/Trauma/Rescue Unit (BORTAC) and a Human Remains Detection (HRD) K-9 searched four miles of McKelligon Canyon.

On November 30, BORTAC and the HRD K-9 searched Pvt. Halliday’s last known location in the unit footprint. This included his barracks, basements, and motor pool locations on Fort Bliss. From December 27-29, Installation law enforcement patrols and Game Wardens searched the urban training areas within the installation boundaries. Eight Military Police (MP) Patrols searched 19 distinct training sites.

CID remains the lead agency in this investigation. Further, we have marshalled key capabilities from a host of military and interagency partners. These partner agencies include: the El Paso Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of State (DoS), the US Department of Justice (DoJ), the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), the Bureau

of Alcohol/Tobacco/Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), the National Central Bureau, Texas Department of Public Safety (also known as Texas Rangers), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the El Paso Police Department (EPPD), and the El Paso Sheriff Department.

On July 25, 2020, Pvt. Halliday’s unit changed his duty status from “Present for Duty” to “Absent without Leave (AWOL)”. On August 27, Pvt. Halliday’s unit changed his status to “Deserter”, thereby dropping him from the unit rolls. Both duty status changes followed Army policy at that time. On August 28, the “Deserter” status triggered Pvt. Halliday’s

entry into the National Crime Information Center database.

On November 25, under the new Army Directive 2020-16 for Missing Persons, Pvt. Halliday’s unit changed his status to “Duty Status -Whereabouts Unknown (DUSTWUN)” and later to “Missing.” This classification as “Missing” went into effect on December 5, 2020. This classification of “Missing” is retroactive to July 24 – the day Pvt. Halliday’s unit realized he was not present.

“I arrived at Fort Bliss on September 29 and joined this effort to find Richard Halliday as it was underway. I came in with a fresh set of eyes and I was able to look critically at our actions beginning July 24 when Richard’s unit determined him missing,” said Maj. Gen. Sean C. Bernabe, senior mission commander at Fort Bliss.

“First, despite attempts, we failed to make timely initial contact with the Halliday Family when we discovered Pvt. Halliday missing. This failure caused us to lose the trust of the Halliday Family. We are working hard to regain their trust. Our failure drove us to change the procedures we take here at Fort Bliss when we discover that a soldier’s whereabouts

are unknown,” Bernabe said.

Fort Bliss continues to make a broad appeal for information from the public to help us find Pvt. Richard Halliday. We would like to remind our community and anyone who receives this message that they can help us find Pvt. Halliday. We will continue to leverage every resource to find Pvt. Halliday through social media, posters, and the support of our

interagency partners. There is a $25,000 reward for credible information. You can report tips, leads, or valuable information anonymously by phone or online. You may call Fort Bliss CID at 915-568-1700 or go online to