The family says they were also told that Pfc. Johnson was found dead in her barracks with a gunshot wound to the head. The information conflicts with details reported to a family relative by fellow soldiers of LaVena in Iraq who say that Johnson was actually found dead in a contractor's tent.
An Army Cover-Up?
When asked why he thinks the government would knowingly withhold essential information pertaining to the death of his daughter, Johnson has a theory.
"It's probably involving somebody with some rank and some prestige, and they [the U.S. Military] are covering for them," says the father, who is also a veteran.
Retired Army Col. Ann Wright, who works to raise awareness of sexual assault in the military, is not stunned by Johnson's theory. According to the Associated Press, 15 percent of female veterans seeking care from VA facilities from time served in Iraq and Afghanistan show signs of sexual abuse.
"It's very difficult to report these things, particularly if the perpetrator is a member of your chain of command," explains Wright, referencing the abuse of military power, sometimes in the form of "command rape."
The Johnsons continue to press the government for details of what they believe really happened — that LaVena Johnson was murdered, possibly at the hands of a fellow service member.
"Nobody, in any kind of public position, has the right to be above the law," Johnson says.
Statement Regarding PFC LaVena Johnson Investigation
CID's extensive investigation found PFC LaVena Johnson's death to be from a self-inflicted gunshot. This finding coincides with the opinion rendered by the Office of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner, whose findings also determined the death to be from a self-inflicted gunshot.
CID conducted a very thorough investigation, as well as a very thorough review of the case and stands by the findings of our investigation.
As with all CID cases, if new information pertinent to this investigation becomes available, CID will reopen the investigation if warranted.
Jeffrey Castro, U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command - Public Affairs