Friday, August 07, 2009

Who killed Jim Kitterman?

If you ask me, it's awfully convenient ... to pin the murder on a man who was dead. - Peter
The Abduction and Murder of Jim Kitterman

According to a security alert, on May 21, 2009, contractor Jim Kitterman, 60, was said to have been abducted just after leaving a shop in the International Zone. On the following day, May 22, Kitterman's body was found. He was reported as blindfolded with his hands bound, stabbed twice in the heart with his throat slit, his body "bundled in a plastic bag and dumped in a lot less than a mile from the contractors' residence" [1]. In contradiction, it was also reported he was found in his car.

It's worth noting that conflicting details of the basic who, what, where, when, and why are an ongoing theme in the reporting of the abduction and murder of Jim Kitterman.

CTU

Five men, four from security company Corporate Training Unlimited (CTU), were subsequently detained by American and Iraqi authorities, and then later released.

Kitterman knew CTU principals for years, the result of having first hired CTU to provide security. Kitterman eventually moved his company headquarters to inside the CTU compound not far from the US Embassy in Baghdad. From years of working together in Iraq, Kitterman was said to be friends with CTU founder and owner, Don Feeney Jr., 55. Feeney and his son were two of the five men held for a short time.

At the time of Kitterman's abduction and murder, Feeney was out of the country. Three of the five men were at an Embassy party. It's unknown where the fifth man was or what alibi he provided but he was cleared of any involvement.

In late July, a Washington Times article reported that two Iraqis told investigators a deceased American was Kitterman's assailant.

Americans held in Iraq: FBI violated rights
By Bill Gertz, Washington Times, July 20, 2009
A total of five men [Donald Feeney Jr., his son Donald Feeney III, Mark Bridges, Micah Milligan of CTU and independent contractor, Jason Jones] were first arrested by FBI agents, Iraqi police and U.S. Army personnel in Baghdad's Green Zone on June 3 after the killing of American contractor Jim Kitterman, who was found stabbed to death in Baghdad May 22.

The men were later cleared of the murder charges by the Iraqi government, based on testimony from two Iraqi witnesses. A translated Iraqi court document stated that an investigator informed the judge in the case that the witnesses had testified that the murder was committed by an American man who was himself killed around the time of the Kitterman murder.
Pin the murder on the dead man

There's an uncomfortable convenience surrounding the sudden death of Jim Kitterman's 'assailant' so shortly after the murder.

While the assailant is not named, Larry Eugene Young, 42, who also worked for CTU, was killed that very same night - May 21. Young died in a mortar attack that struck his housing unit within the CTU compound. The next day on May 22, discussion at a forum frequented by overseas contractors mentioned the time of the mortar fire that killed Young as 22:45 [2]. However, some news outlets reported 20:00 or 20:15. Within the same discussion thread one commenter later wrote that Kitterman was shot multiple times in the head, not stabbed as reported, his body found near a 'water point' [3].

Contractors Detained in Gruesome Green Zone Slaying
By Nathan Hodge, Danger Room, Wired magazine, June 8, 2009
An employee of CTU was killed last month when a mortar reportedly struck his trailer inside the Green Zone. Feeney told the Fayetteville Observer [4] the employee, Larry Eugene Young, “was sleeping in his hooch when a mortar hit his trailer with a direct hit … He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
The following excerpt [5] is from same the article:
Larry Eugene Young, 42, died instantly when a mortar hit his trailer inside the secured CTU compound, said Susan Lackey, a spokeswoman for CTU. Young, a former soldier from Ulysses, Kansas who served in Fort Bragg’s 7th Special Forces Group, had worked in Iraq since 2003, the past four years for CTU. He had an Iraqi wife and daughter, as well as three children from a previous marriage.

Don Feeney, one of CTU’s founders, said he had given Young a personal trailer in the compound so Young could be with his wife and daughter. The wife and daughter were not in the trailer when the mortar hit, Feeney said.
There's not much public information about Young. He seems to have been well liked just judging by the fact that a colleague took the trouble to put up a memorial thread in his name, RIP Wild Weasel, and others took the time to comment on a discussion forum.

There's a little background information in the announcement at the Garnand Funeral Home of Southwest Kansas:
Larry Eugene Young
April 16, 1967 - May 21, 2009
Baghdad, Iraq

Visitation: 10:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m., Wednesday, June 10, 2009 at Garnand Funeral Home in Ulysses, Kansas.

Larry Eugene Young, age 42, died May 21, 2009 in Baghdad, Iraq. He was born April 16, 1967 at Russell, Kansas, the son of Francis L. “Butch” and Roxana (Smith) Young.

Larry grew up and attended school in Ulysses. While in high school Larry ran cross country. He enjoyed working on cars and hunting, and working with computers. Larry married Velika Ortiz on December 26, 1990 in Panama. To this union three sons were born, Sammy, Larry, and Ralph. Larry served as a Sergeant E6 in the Special Forces for the United States Army from 1985 to 1998. He has spent the last seven years in Iraq working security for Dyna Corp and CTU companies.

Larry married Suzie Ikzar on September 17, 2006 in Baghdad. She survives. Other survivors include three sons, Sammy Young of Liberal, Kansas, Larry Young and Ralph Young both of Hutchinson, Kansas; two daughters, Saba Young and Merriam Young both of Baghdad, Iraq; and his parents, Butch and Roxana Young both of Ulysses.
It seems like an enormous stretch to believe that just one man, Young, who is also conveniently dead, is solely responsible for the abduction and murder of Jim Kitterman. My first cynical thought upon reading the Washington Times article: how much were the two Iraqis paid? My second cynical thought: who paid them? My third thought: anyone tell Young's family?

News Reports

Why so much trouble reporting this particular story? The facts wander all over the place: Kitterman was found in his car. He was found lying next to a water tank. He was found wrapped in plastic. He was found dumped in a lot in a plastic bag. He was last seen arguing with a security guard. He was last seen alone at the end of the day at the Embassy. He was abducted outside a shop....

The only thing everyone seems to agree on: Kitterman was brutally murdered.

I'm struck by the complete lack of interest of the news media to pursue facts in a more orderly manner. Or at least notice what was presented by different sources don't line up.

Here are some questions I'd like to see the news media pursue:
  1. Was Kitterman stabbed or shot or both?
  2. Where was his security that night?
  3. Why was Kitterman blind folded? (that makes no sense if he knew his attacker)
  4. Did someone specifically target the CTU compound for a 'mortar attack' on that particular night?
  5. Why wasn't Young at the Embassy party?
  6. What time was the mortar attack that night - was there more than one?
  7. Did anyone investigate Young's death or was it just written off as a run-of-the-mill mortar attack with no further inquiry?
  8. Were the mortar attack and the Kitterman murder orchestrated by the same person(s)?
  9. Was Kitterman targeted because of an association with CTU and/or owner Feeney?
  10. Was Kitterman mistaken for Feeney?
  11. Will yet another murder investigation in Iraq just end up in the cold case files just as the investigation into the murder of Ryan Manelick faltered?
Always questions....but with the 'evidence' of the two Iraqis, it looks like it's case closed for Jim Kitterman.

Footnotes

[1] Contractor Held in Green Zone Death Is Released
By Anthony Shadid, Washington Post, June 11, 2009

[2] RIP Wild Weasel
See comment by Sniper111 May 22. 2009 at 17:47

[3] Ibid
See comment by Goose375 May 23, 2009 at 09:31

[4] Contractor had ties to Bragg, region
By John Ramsey, Fayetteville Observer, May 27, 2009,
http://www.fayobserver.com/article?id=327512 (original url - no longer active)

[5] Excerpt from Contractor had ties to Bragg, region
Contractor Casualties Iraq and Afghanistan - Larry Eugene Young
Defense Base Act Workman's Compensation blog
http://www.dbacomp.com/Casualties.html

Additional Reading

American Killed in Baghdad's Green Zone Identified
By Ernesto Londoño and Steve Fainaru, Washington Post, May 23, 2009

Green Zone Killing heightens security fears
By Chelsea J. Carter, Associated Press, May 23, 2009

Slain American Led Construction Firm
By Ernesto Londoño and Steve Fainaru, Washington Post, May 24, 2009

Civilian contractor with Ariz. ties killed in Iraq remembered
By Elias C. Arnold, The Arizona Republic, May 25, 2009

Five U.S. contractors held in slaying of another in Iraq
CNN, June 6, 2009

Five U.S. contractors held in slaying of another in Iraq - includes video & grainy photos of some of the men
CNN, June 6, 2009 at 6:10 pm

Murray mother's longing for justice may be satisfied
By Matthew D. LaPlante, The Salt Lake Tribune, June 7, 2009

Contractor detained in Iraq has history of exploits - includes photo
By Greg Barnes, The Fayetteville Observer, June 9, 2009

Iraq police free 3 U.S. contractors
By Ned Parker , LA Times, June 11, 2009

By Tom A. Peter, Christian Science Monitor, June 11, 2009

Iraq Clears 5 US Contractors in Killing of American Businessman
By VOA News, Voice of America, June 11, 2009

Fayetteville contractors detained by Iraqis
By Robert H. Reid, The Associated Press, June 12, 2009

2 U.S. Contractors Transferred From Iraqi Jail
By Nada Bakri, Washington Post, June 15, 2009

Related Posts

Update on Kitterman
July 20, 2009

Contractor abducted and killed in Iraq
May 24, 2009

6 comments:

Peter said...

Possibly one other question: was the mortar attack even a mortar attack? An American soldier, Alberto Martinez, was accused of "fragging" two officers in June 2005 by placing a bomb on a window. When investigators surveyed the scene they assumed for some time it was simply an insurgent rocket attack.

Of course, this is mostly crime-drama-esque speculation. But who knows what really goes on in the Green Zone?

Susie Dow said...

It's unclear to me who has jurisdiction over an investigation into a mortar attack in the IZ. Military, civilian, Iraqi, American? My hunch is no one bothered to look into it and just accepted it as is.

Unfortunately, the use of forensics is relatively new in Iraq. For instance, fingerprinting has only recently entered into use by law enforcement and court proceedings. So, Iraqi investigators would of course have to rely very heavily on American investigators expertise. Who arrived first? How badly was the scene compromised?

Right off the bat, the investigation probably started off on the wrong foot much like I believe the investigation into the disappearance of Kirk von Ackermann's did. The assumption was that he was snatched by insurgents. As far as I know, no one ever approached his disappearance as a traditional murder investigation.

I have the feeling that both the Young and Kitterman investigations have followed the same fate.

Anonymous said...

Kitterman and Larry where both killed by the same people

Anonymous said...

What nobody seems to mention is that of the 5 arrested, one was not even in the country at the time of the murder, 3 were inside the Italian Embassy all night and the other was just sleeping at the CTU compund while he was in transit and had no idea of who Kitterman was.

The Iraqi judicial system has found all 5 to not have any connection to the murder whatsoever. The FBI insists on pushing the scenario that CTU employees killed Jim despite them all being accounted for (the 3 in country on VIDEO).

It just makes me question the US governments motives in pushing this horrible incident onto people who had nothing to do with it. Keep in mind Don Feeney had several high profile run-ins with the Dept of State after he rescued kidnapped children from other countries in the 1980's...

Susie Dow said...

Anonymous 2 - Please read my post again. I actually did provide the information that three of the men were at an Embassy party and that CTU founder Don Feeney was out of the country at the time of the murder.

My intent is not to point fingers at possible suspects but rather to call attention to the fact that both Young and Kitterman deserve better.

The investigation to date appears thoroughly botched.

Unfortunately, I also have no faith whatsoever in the Iraqi judicial system - a system that for decades was sorely abused to the point that executions were based on circumstantial evidence. Gossip is no replacement for cold hard evidence.

The entire reason for my post was that I question the quality of investigation. Why? There are significant voids in the investigation into the disappearance of Kirk von Ackermann, now the longest missing American in Iraq. Coincidentally, von Ackermann's employer remains the prime 'suspect' even though there's good reason to believe he was originally the intended target.

Sound familiar?

Regards the US government's 'motive' - I put it down to lack of interest. Both DoD and State cycle staff and personnel in and out of the region so often that no one does follow up. Steve Fainaru details this in his book on the Jonathan Cote kidnapping, Big Boy Rules.

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