Ft. Bragg soldier’s death still under investigation six months later


LUBBOCK, Texas — More than six months after the death of her son, Heather Baker places flowers on Caleb Smither’s gravesite. It’s a Wednesday afternoon. Large clouds fill the sky over Resthaven Cemetery before beginning to pour.

“He was actually the epitome of what love looks like,” Baker said.

Smither was a paratrooper with Fort Bragg’s 82nd Air Division. His autopsy indicates Smither died January 21. He was found dead in his barracks. However, six months later, his death is still being investigated.

“You’re asking me questions that even after six months, I have no answers to,” Baker said.

Caleb told his mom he hit his head and sustained a concussion just before his death. His autopsy report leaves Baker with more questions than she knows the answers to:

“Where his first line supervisor might have been… where his battle buddies might have been…where his roommate was… why he was left to literally decompose in his room on base with soldiers everywhere all aorund him… it’s unacceptable and I had expected to be able to have an open casket and finding out almost a week later that his body was too decomposed to be viewable? That’s unacceptable,” Baker said.

She feels the autopsy report doesn’t add up.

“His autopsy leads me to believe that there’s been medical malpractice,” Baker said.

Also keeping up with other Gold Star Families who have lost their loved ones under suspicious circumstances, Baker believes Vanessa Guillen’s death has been a sort of turning point.

“Vanessa kind of broke down a door that we Gold Star Families some of us have been fighting to open and unlock for over ten years,” Baker said.

Baker believes army leadership should be held accountable.

“The consistent theme between all of these cases is that leadership doesn’t seem to be being held accountable and I feel like the solution is independent investigations,” Baker said.

Baker said she will continue to seek justice for her son, and others who are also in the military.

“Their freedom is important to me and it’s sad to me that they themselves fight for our freedoms and our liberties and they don’t even get to enjoy their freedom and their liberties,” Baker said.

Baker plans to speak at a protest at Fort Hood on August 1.

EverythingLubbock.com has reached out to Ft. Bragg about the status of the investigation but have not heard back.

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