March 26, 2008 – Saginaw, TX — After returning from his third tour of duty in Iraq in three years, Lance Cpl. Eric Acevedo just wasn’t the same, his relatives said.
The athletic teen who had enlisted in the Marines just after graduating from high school in 2003, a few months after the war began, had nightmares, fought with his girlfriend and gained weight. The 22-year-old, whose breaks between deployments were less than a year, suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, said his father Andres Acevedo.
Early Saturday morning, 13 months after returning from his last tour, he went to his ex-girlfriend’s townhouse, broke through a ground-floor window and stabbed her repeatedly with a kitchen knife, police said. A blood-covered Acevedo then paced in the parking lot as officers rushed to the tan wood-and-brick townhouse complex and arrested him, neighbors said.
Eric Acevedo, 22, is charged with capital murder, which carries the death penalty, and remained jailed Wednesday on $1 million bond.
“I gave him to the government nice and healthy, and the government returned somebody who is capable of doing something like that,” Andres Acevedo told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Mollieann Worden, 32, frantically called 911 during the attack but was dead when officers arrived a few minutes later, Officer Kim Allison said. Worden’s 10-year-old daughter had been spending the night at a friend’s house and is now staying with relatives.
Andres Acevedo said his son and Worden dated more than two years and broke up a few months ago. He said he picked up his son from Worden’s house at least twice, after his son called to avoid being arrested, when the couple fought.
Police in Saginaw, a working-class suburb of Fort Worth, never received any domestic disturbance calls at the townhouse where Acevedo had lived with Worden or at another home they previously shared, Allison said.
The Marine’s father and an aunt, Alicia Rodriguez, told the Star-Telegram that Eric Acevedo had been a good kid who never caused problems. Andres Acevedo said that a military doctor last year diagnosed his son with post-traumatic stress disorder and placed him on medication that seemed to calm him down.
But according to Veterans Affairs records, Eric Acevedo has not enrolled in the VA North Texas Health Care System or applied for any VA benefits.
Dwayne Parker, one of Worden’s neighbors, said that before the couple broke up, Eric Acevedo sometimes talked to him but rarely mentioned Iraq.
“He tried to act normal, but it seemed like he was hiding something,” Parker told The Associated Press. “He was scared to go back.”
Parker said Worden, a striking brunette with soft brown eyes, had moved on and had been spending time with her new friends at church. Just two days before she was killed, she proudly showed off two new star tattoos on her finger — covering another tattoo that once read “Eric,” Parker said.
“I’ve never seen her as happy as that,” Parker said. “She was such a sweet person, and she didn’t deserve this.”
Acevedo, who was stationed at Twentynine Palms, Calif., was deployed for about seven months in 2004 and again in 2005-06, and for six months in 2006-07, said Master Sgt. Ronald J. Spencer, a spokesman with the Marine Corps Mobilization Command in Kansas City. In the war zone, Acevedo carried a machine gun as part of a patrol team, Spencer said.
“He was a good Marine,” Spencer said.
Acevedo’s awards included the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, National Defense Medal and Combat Action Ribbon.
Spencer said he could not release Acevedo’s medical records or say if he had been disciplined, citing privacy laws.
After his last deployment, Acevedo had completed active duty and was to serve his last four years in the Marine Corps’ Individual Ready Reserve, Spencer said.
Acevedo used a VA loan to buy a $44,000, two-bedroom house in January in Blue Mound, a Fort Worth suburb, said his real estate agent, A.J. Macias of Sharp Realty in Saginaw. Macias said Acevedo was in good spirits during the process and did not talk about Iraq except to say he was glad to be back home.
Neighbors said he kept to himself and was rarely home.
“This is a shocker to me,” Macias said of Acevedo’s arrest. “He was very calm, very professional, a true Southern gentleman.”
Acevedo’s court-appointed attorney Lex Johnston said he had not spent much time talking to his client and could not comment on statements made by the family, such as whether he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.