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xx Robert Hornbeck - April 16, 2006 - GA
« Thread started on: Apr 26th, 2006, 7:34pm »

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Army Spc. Robert Hornbeck is shown in an undated photo provided by his family. More than 70 volunteers turned out Tuesday evening, April 25, 2006, to help search for Hornbeck in the downtown area of Savannah, Ga. Hornbeck, a 23-year-old soldier stationed at Fort Benning, Ga., went missing April 16 after being out with friends
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xx Dad Searches for Missing Soldier Son
« Reply #1 on: Apr 26th, 2006, 7:36pm »

SAVANNAH, Ga. -- When his father called looking for him, Spc. Robert Hornbeck answered his cell phone and spoke just a few words before the connection went dead: "Dad, I'm on the stairs."

Outside the downtown DeSoto Hilton hotel, Eric Hornbeck called back but got no answer. This was the spot he'd been given to pick up his son and an Army buddy after a night of bar-hopping
Nine days after that brief phone call, nobody can find a trace of 23-year-old Robert Hornbeck, who returned to Fort Benning in January after a year in Iraq and vanished during a weekend getaway to Savannah.

"For three days, I checked garbage bins, alleys. I even chased some homeless people out of abandoned buildings," the soldier's father said Tuesday. "You can speculate until you're blue in the face. And, Lord knows, I have."

More than 70 volunteers turned out Tuesday evening to help search for Hornbeck. They walked along streets and alleys peering into bushes, looking in garbage bins and handing out fliers.

"My daughter's engaged to a soldier who's in Iraq right now and I wanted to do whatever I can to help this family find their son," said Martina Christensen.

A private search and rescue crew used dogs to pick up Hornbeck's scent in the hotel parking garage but did not find him, said his stepmother, Beth Hornbeck. She said a hotel maintenance worker told her that he thought he saw Hornbeck in the garage the night he went missing.

The weekend of April 16, when Hornbeck disappeared, father and son traveled to Savannah to catch up while staying with a relative in town. Robert Hornbeck brought a friend, Jeremy Stone, from his unit at Fort Benning. Eric Hornbeck came with his wife from Lapeer, Mich.

They had much to celebrate. Hornbeck was preparing to leave the Army at the end of April and return to the University of Michigan, where he studied psychology for two years before joining the Army in 2004.

He also had a wedding date to marry his college sweetheart in July.

After a Saturday night of playing pool near the Savannah riverfront, Hornbeck's father and wife retired at about 11 p.m. while the soldier and his friend stayed downtown to keep the celebration rolling.

Eric Hornbeck said Stone woke him with a phone call shortly after 3 a.m. asking for a ride.

"Obviously they'd been drinking. He said they were lost, they were at the Hilton," he said. "Robert was madder than hell because Jeremy had taken his cell phone to call me, and Robert didn't want dad to come rescue him."

Eric Hornbeck arrived at the hotel about 7 minutes later, he said. He found Stone, who said he'd lost sight of Robert Hornbeck just minutes earlier. Then Eric Hornbeck called his son's cell phone.

"He answered the phone and said something about, `Dad, I'm on the stairs,'" he said. "I can't say if it went dead or he hung up. But that was the end of the conversation."

Police checks of Robert Hornbeck's cell phone, credit card and bank account records show none have been used since he went missing, said Lt. Mike Wilkins, spokesman for Savannah-Chatham County police.

"We have no evidence that Mr. Hornbeck is a victim of any crime," Wilkins said. "All searches to this point have not yielded any information on his whereabouts."

Fliers posted in downtown storefronts with Hornbeck's photo and a full-page ad his father bought in Sunday's Savannah Morning News haven't turned up any fresh tips. Neither has a $10,000 reward offered by the family.

The longer he searches, Eric Hornbeck becomes more worried that his son is either dead or "he has postwar trauma and he's holed up somewhere."

"You never know. People do snap," he said. "But nobody had any indication that was the story. I hope it is the story. That's our only hope."

http://tinyurl.com/oocca
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xx Friends on Missing Soldier Search
« Reply #2 on: Apr 27th, 2006, 10:37am »

The search continues for a missing Third Infantry Division soldier. But there may have been a break. Three different people reported seeing someone matching Robert Hornbeck's description, all within a few hours' time Tuesday morning.

Hornbeck disappeared from Savannah, but these three sightings have rejuvenated the search west of here, with crews focusing on Interstate 16 in Bulloch County.

The phone calls started early Tuesday morning, sounding like more than just a coincidence. "Exact descriptions," said Capt. Rick Rountree of the Bulloch County Sheriff's Department. "Blue shirt, khaki pants, ball cap turned around backwards. All of them gave us the exact same description."

The Bulloch County sheriff's deputies answered the three separate calls all within a couple hours of each other and all within a ten-mile stretch of I-16.

"We got the last call at 8:17am," said Capt. Rountree. "I was here within 15 minutes."

By then, the person matching Hornbeck's description was gone again. Meanwhile, friends back in Fort Benning are trying not to think about what the possible sightings mean.

"I don't like to think about the possibilities, because you could run the entire gamut and none of them are good in my mind," said Sgt. Michael Scoutten.

"Our immediate concern is for his safety," said Sgt. David Van Ergen. "He's not the kind of person to just run off."

Friends say they can't imagine Hornbeck would have gone AWOL. He's days away from getting out of the Army, and was looking forward to getting married in just a few months.

"If he was in trouble, he wouldn't try and run from it," said Scoutten. "It's not in his character, at least from what I've seen."

http://www.wtoctv.com/Global/story.asp?S=4826991&nav=0qq6
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xx Body Thought to Be Missing Soldier Found
« Reply #3 on: Apr 28th, 2006, 5:40pm »

By RUSS BYNUM


SAVANNAH, Ga. Apr 28, 2006 (AP) A body believed to be that of a missing Fort Benning soldier was discovered inside a piece of air conditioning equipment Friday at a downtown hotel after guests complained of a foul odor in the lobby.

A maintenance worker at the DeSoto Hilton hotel found the body.

Spc. Robert Hornbeck, 23, was last seen outside the hotel April 16 after a night of bar-hopping with an Army buddy.

Savannah-Chatham County police said they had not confirmed the body's identity, but some of Hornbeck's belongings were found near the remains.

"Detectives are conducting a comprehensive and thorough investigation to determine the reasons behind this man's death," said Lt. Mike Wilkins, a police spokesman. "At this time, investigators do not have any reason to believe this person was the victim of a crime."

An autopsy was scheduled for Sunday.

Eric Hornbeck, the soldier's father, was informed of the discovery by police.

"The are all just coming together and digesting it," said Ron Palefsky, a private investigator the family hired to help with the search. "I think the best way to describe it is they're in shock."

Hornbeck had traveled to Savannah to spend Easter weekend with his father and stepmother. He had returned to Fort Benning in January from a yearlong tour in Iraq with the 3rd Infantry Division.

Hornbeck planned to leave the Army at the end of April and return to the University of Michigan, where he studied psychology before joining the Army in 2004. He was scheduled to marry his college sweetheart in July.

Family members spent nearly two weeks combing Savannah's historic district for him. They posted fliers with Hornbeck's photo in store windows, took out a full-page ad in the local paper and offered a $10,000 reward. About 70 volunteers turned out Tuesday night to help search the area again.

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=1903095
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xx Family Confirms Body Is That of Missing Soldier
« Reply #4 on: Apr 29th, 2006, 10:39am »

The family of a missing Third Infantry Division soldier has confirmed that the body found today in the DeSoto Hilton on Savannah's Liberty Street is that of Robert Hornbeck.

Beth Hornbeck told WTOC that the body had the same tattoo and clothes as her stepson.

Plenty of people were following, or involved in, the search for Robert Hornbeck.

People didn't necessarily think all along that Hornbeck had been there, but when they heard somebody had been found, they didn't hold out much hope that it wasn't him.

Before word started leaking out that the body might be Robert Honbeck, a lot of people had already guessed it was him anyway: "Yeah, probably," "I would assume that," and "I wasn't as surprised as I should have been," are just three responses from folks finding out about the discovery.

Esther Shaver owns a bookstore across from the hotel. She says right around the time Hornbeck disappeared, she heard a lot of noise out on the street, and called police about it.

"There were some people at the corner by Pinkie Masters," says Shaver. "They then were told to move. They moved around to the other side and I heard someone say 'Have you found him yet?'"

She and others had been wondering what happened ever since.

Just on the other side of the hotel at the Mellow Mushroom, there have been flyers up for almost two weeks seeking help. Tourists may have come in Friday wondering what was going on -- but it didn't take long to get them up to speed.

Katie Mae Ferguson, a server at the restaurant, says, "As soon as people read the flyers, and we explain, they understand."

People who's been following the strange story say it's a sad situation, and one that should have been resolved before now.

Talia O'Brien, another server, says "They might not have been doing all they could to look for this guy."

Police say they have no reason to believe the body is anyone else, but they're not going to go on the record saying it's him until they get forensic evidence back.

They expect to have that sometime Saturday morning.

http://www.wtoctv.com/Global/story.asp?S=4835193&nav=menu89_2
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xx Autopsy: G.I. Accidentally Killed in Ga
« Reply #5 on: May 1st, 2006, 8:13pm »

By Court TV NY


SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) A Fort Benning soldier missing 12 days before his body was discovered in a downtown hotel died after he got caught in an industrial-sized air conditioner, officials said Saturday.
A maintenance worker at the DeSoto Hilton hotel found the man's body Friday in an area accessible through a maintenance door after guests complained of a foul odor in the lobby.

He died after being struck by a large, spinning blower wheel, said Lt. Mike Wilkins, a spokesman for Savannah-Chatham County police.

At this point, it appears to be an accident," he said.

An autopsy Saturday confirmed the identity of Spc. Robert Hornbeck, 23, of Lapeer, Mich., who was last scene outside the hotel April 16 after a late night of bar-hopping with an Army buddy. He answered his cell phone briefly after his father arrived just after 3 a.m. to give him a ride. He said, "Dad, I'm on the stairs," then the connection went dead.

Family members spent nearly two weeks combing Savannah's historic district for him. They posted fliers with Hornbeck's photo in store windows, took out a full-page ad in the local paper and offered a $10,000 reward.

"At least we have closure and we can get him home and do the proper things to honor him," said Kirk Hornbeck, the soldier's uncle in Savannah.

Police had not determined how Hornbeck got into the hotel maintenance area or what he was doing there. He was not a guest at the hotel. Blood toxicology tests were also being performed. Hornbeck's father had previously said he suspects his son was intoxicated.

"I think maybe he'd in fact had too much to drink," Kirk Hornbeck said. "He might've thought he was going out the right door to the outside and got turned around inside the building and ended up in the wrong spot."

The soldier had traveled to Savannah to spend Easter weekend with his father and stepmother. He had returned to Fort Benning in January from a yearlong tour in Iraq with the 3rd Infantry Division.

Hornbeck planned to leave the Army at the end of April and return to the University of Michigan, where he studied psychology before joining the Army in 2004. He was scheduled to marry his college sweetheart in July.

Hornbeck's father was traveling back to Michigan on Saturday, where the family planned to bury Hornbeck with military honors, his uncle said.

http://www.crimelibrary.com/news/ap/0406/3001_missing_soldier_found.html
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