Friend: Soldier confessed to killing pregnant wife

FORT STEWART, Ga. — An Army soldier confessed that he killed his pregnant wife by persuading her to wear handcuffs during sex and then suffocating her with a plastic bag over her head, a former Army buddy testified before a court-martial Monday.

Prosecutors at Fort Stewart used testimony alleging the confession to open their case against 22-year-old Pvt. Isaac Aguigui, who is charged with murder as well as killing an unborn child. He faces an automatic life sentence if a military judge convicts him of murder in the July 17, 2011, death of Sgt. Deirdre Aguigui.

Capt. Janae Lapir, an Army prosecutor, said in her opening statement Monday that Isaac Aguigui wanted to be free from a rocky marriage and coveted the $500,000 in life insurance and benefit payments he received from the Army after his wife was found dead in their apartment on the southeast Georgia Army post. She called him “a schemer” who tricked his wife into letting him handcuff her.

“Sgt. Aguigui never had a chance to fight back because she never saw it coming,” Lapir said.

Civilian prosecutors say Aguigui used the insurance money to buy guns and bomb components for an anti-government militia group he started by recruiting other disgruntled soldiers. Aguigui pleaded guilty in a civilian court last summer to murder charges in the slayings of a former soldier and his girlfriend eight months after his wife died. Civilian prosecutors say he ordered their slayings to protect the group.

Aguigui is already serving a sentence of life without parole at a Georgia prison.

Friends of the Army couple testified Wednesday about constant fighting in their marriage over Aguigui’s drug use and infidelities by both husband and wife. Deirdre Aguigui, 24, was about seven months pregnant when she died, and friends said her husband had questioned whether the child was his.

Testimony in pretrial hearings showed the Army was delayed in bringing charges because the military’s autopsy failed to identify a cause of death for Deirdre Aguigui. Last year, a Georgia state medical examiner reviewed the case and gave a second opinion, saying she must have been choked or suffocated because every other potential cause could be ruled out. He noted marks on her wrists indicated she struggled violently as her hands were cuffed behind her back.

Aguigui’s friend Michael Schaefer testified that Aguigui at first told him his wife died from a blood clot. About a month later, after they had been up all night using cocaine, they got into an argument. Schaefer said he asked his friend point-blank what really happened to his wife.

“He told me he had strangled her with a bag,” Schaefer said. “He handcuffed her, put a bag over her head and strangled her” while also sexually assaulting her.

Capt. Scott Noto, one of Aguigui’s defense attorneys, noted that Schaefer never mentioned a confession during several previous interviews with Army investigators or when he testified at a pre-trial hearing for Aguigui last summer.

Schaefer said he was afraid to speak up until Army prosecutors granted him immunity from prosecution in Deirdre Aguigui’s death.

On Dec. 5, 2011, fishermen found the bodies of former Army Pvt. Michael Roark and his 17-year-old girlfriend, Tiffany York, in the woods of rural Long County near Fort Stewart. Both had been shot in the head.

Investigators arrested Aguigui and three other soldiers — Sgt. Anthony Peden, Pvt. Christopher Salmon and Pfc. Michael Burnett — and charged them in the deaths about a week after the bodies were found. Aguigui pleaded guilty July 19. Salmon and Peden, who prosecutors say fired the killing shots, are still awaiting trial.

More in Local News

Shock from WSU suicide ripples through Snohomish County

Roughly 1 in 10 seniors, sophomores and 8th-graders said they had attempted to take their own lives.

$1,000 reward for info on who killed an eagle near Snohomish

After being shot, the raptor was treated at the Sarvey Wildlife Center but died overnight.

Woman confronts man leaving house with stolen item

“He swung at her with a crowbar, missing her.”

Police seek suspect in Wells Fargo bank robbery

He was described as white, in his 30s, heavyset, with blonde hair and a maroon sweatshirt.

Possible bobcat sighting keeps Snohomish students inside

The creature was spotted on the campus of Valley View Middle School around noon.

Stabbing in Everett follows dispute between brothers-in-law

The victim, 54, was hospitalized. The suspect, 29, had not been apprehended Thursday.

New leaders coming to county, state political parties

Hillary Moralez of Bothell takes over as chair for the Snohomish County Democratic Party.

Mom and brother turn in suspect in Stanwood robberies

The man is suspected of robbing the same gas station twice, and apologizing to the clerk afterward.

Derrick “Wiz” Crawford, 22, is a suspect in the homicide of his roommate. (Edmonds Police Department)
Roommate suspected in Edmonds killing found hiding in closet

Police had been searching for him for 10 days before locating him at a house in Everett.

Most Read