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Fort Hood Soldier's Remains Are Found At A Nearby Lake

Pvt. Mejhor Morta's body was found on Friday in the area of Stillhouse Hollow Lake. He was stationed at nearby Fort Hood, Texas.
U.S. Army photo
Pvt. Mejhor Morta's body was found on Friday in the area of Stillhouse Hollow Lake. He was stationed at nearby Fort Hood, Texas.

Police are investigating the death of a Fort Hood soldier whose body was found at a nearby lake — the third service member from the Texas base to be found dead in the past month.

Pvt. Mejhor Morta, 26, was found unresponsive on July 17 in the area of Stillhouse Hollow Lake, according to the Fort Hood Press Center. His death is currently being investigated by the Bell County Sheriff's Department.

Morta's body was spotted shortly after midnight last Friday by fishermen who were in a boat near the base of the man-made lake's dam, the sheriff's department said in a statement sent to NPR. Law enforcement agents located his remains after being called to the scene.

An autopsy was ordered by Justice of the Peace Garland Potvin; the preliminary results show the cause of death is "consistent with a drowning," the sheriff's department says. A full autopsy report is pending from the medical examiner's office in Dallas.

Army records list Morta's home as Pensacola, Fla. He entered the service in September of 2019 as a Bradley Fighting Vehicle mechanic, and was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, in May of 2020.

"The Black Knight family is truly heartbroken by the tragic loss of Private Mejhor Morta," battalion commander Lt. Col. Neil Armstrong said, as he extended his condolences to Morta's family and friends.

News of Morta's death comes weeks after the body of Pfc. Vanessa Guillen was found near the Leon River, north of Austin. She had been missing since April. Officials say Guillen was killed at the base by a fellow soldier who then hid her remains. The main suspect in that case, Aaron David Robinson, killed himself as law enforcement was closing in.

In late June, military and civilian law enforcement agents found the skeletal remains of another Fort Hood soldier, Pvt. Gregory Scott Morales, 24, in a field in nearby Killeen.

The authorities had received a tip about a body. Morales had been missing since Aug. 19, 2019 – just days before he was to be discharged. Authorities said last month that they suspect foul play in his death.

Police officials have not said whether they consider Morta's death to be suspicious, or if it might be connected in any way to the deaths of Guillen or Morales.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.