Dead Army nurse's husband charged with arson

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Associated Press Writer

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP) — The husband of a Fort Bragg Army nurse whose remains were found in a brush fire three days after she went missing was being held Monday on a charge of first-degree arson over a fire in her apartment building.

Marine Cpl. John Wimunc, 23, was in the Cumberland County jail on $500,000 bond. His wife is Army 2nd Lt. Holley Wimunc, a nurse from Dubuque, Iowa, who had been missing since a fire was discovered in her Fayetteville apartment Thursday.

Holley Wimunc’s father said authorities told him that remains found late Sunday in a brush fire near Camp Lejeune are those of his daughter. John Wimunc is stationed at Camp Lejeune, about 130 miles southeast of Fayetteville.

Fayetteville police, who scheduled a 3 p.m. news conference to discuss the case, began searching for Holley Wimunc on Thursday after she failed to show up for work at Womack Army Medical Center and co-workers could not find her at home. Investigators found evidence of a fire in her apartment. Her car was in the parking lot, but she was gone.

Maj. Cliff W. Gilmore, a spokesman with the 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune, said the Naval Criminal Investigative Service took John Wimunc and Lance Cpl. Kyle Alden into custody Sunday morning and then transferred them to Fayetteville police.

Alden, 22, was being held on $250,000 bond. Both are scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday.

The warrants say John Wimunc and Alden are charged with burning a house inhabited by Daniel and Dena Babcock located at 146 Wayah Creek. Holley Wimunc lived at 146-C Wayah Creek, and it wasn’t immediately clear how the Babcocks were involved. Fayetteville police did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

Holley Wimunc’s father in Dubuque, Jesse James, said the family has lost its “thread of hope” since authorities told them the remains of a woman found in the brush fire were those of his daughter.

“It is with profound sadness that our family just received the news from authorities that our beloved daughter Holley is dead,” James said in a statement.

District Attorney Dewey Hudson had said Sunday that the remains might be those of Wimunc. The body appeared to have been burned prior to the brush fire, he said.

Division of Forest Resources personnel found the remains when they responded to a fire in the Sneads Ferry area near the southern border of Camp Lejeune late Sunday afternoon.

Onslow County Sheriff Ed Brown said the fire appeared to have been set in an effort to cover up a crime.

Brown said officers guarded the brush fire site overnight Sunday and forensic experts with the FBI planned to remove the remains Monday.