A civilian white trans woman’s death at Fort Cavazos in Central Texas, just a day before her missing husband was discovered, remains a suspicious situation.
Cam Chamberlain, 28, reported that her 23-year-old husband, Craig Chamberlain, was missing on May 15; Army officials responded with the announcement that he was ‘willfully missing.’ Cam posted several distraught messages about the impact of his absence, including a lack of financial resources. The couple had been married since 2020.
On May 25, officials reported that Cam had died, providing no further details. Her friends claim that there has been no autopsy, obituary, or funeral. Army investigators launched a criminal probe. A spokeswoman for the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division declined to comment further, citing an ongoing investigation.
“I can’t even mourn her death the way family should, because it’s as if she never existed at all now,” said Shandy Eubank, one of the longtime friends.
On May 26, Craig Chamberlain was found by volunteer search parties in ‘rough shape.’ The Army conducted an administrative investigation into his disappearance, but have declined to disclose the details. There is no information on Craig Chamberlain’s current whereabouts.
Cam and Craig married in 2020 and relocated from San Diego to Fort Cavazos. The couple, according to Cam’s conversations with friends, experienced relationship difficulties. Cam reported that Craig had moved in with a friend and claimed her was preparing for a deployment to Korea. His wife then reported that the night before he was to be deployed, he told her that his assignment had been deferred by six months. While discussing his disappearance in May, she told a local newspaper, the Killeen Daily Herald, that she discovered he had not reported to work on the base starting in March. Craig’s family disputes Cam’s account, but miliary officials say that it is part of the administrative investigation.
After alerting authorities about his disappearance on May 15, Cam went to local media to ask for help, prompting military officials to issue a statement and launch an investigation. Cam’s final known contact with her friends was a text exchange on May 20. On May 25, her death was announced.
Obviously, the complicated nature of their relationship is both a key factor and something we’ll never entirely know without Cam’s participation in the conversation.
But it has been nearly two months and no word from the investigation into Cam’s death. The administrative investigation into Craig’s disappearance is completed so it would seem any involvement on his part would be known by investigators. It also seems natural that her death would be part of that investigation. What does the Army have to gain by refusing to disclose the cause of death?
When I first read this story, I flashed immediately back to the February 2021 murder of a Latina trans woman close to my hometown of Pittsburgh in New Wilmington, PA. Chyna Carrillo was violently murdered by her ex-military date. Police responded to the assault and killed him when he refused to stop beating her.
The man who murdered her, Juan Carlos Hernandez, was 30 years old. He appears to have been a native of Ohio and had recently returned there.
From prison. He was in prison for eight years (2013-2021) for murdering his 20-year-old wife in 2010 while they lived in North Carolina.
He served eight years for murdering his wife. He was released and he killed another woman, Chynaa.
It is outrageous that he served eight years for murdering his wife, but the commonality that caught my eye was the desertion – both Hernandez and Craig Chamberlain deserted or “willfully disappeared.” For Hernandez, who used his desertion time to murder his wife, those charger were dropped. And he went on to kill again.
Hernandez was a known murderer. Craig Chamberlain has not been tied to his wife’s death. But we don’t know where he is. I don’t know if the miliary must disclose incarcerations. And it seems reasonable that based on descriptions of his action that he in treatment somewhere either for the underlying reasons of his disappearance or simply the ordeal itself.
I’m not accusing Craig Chamberlain of anything. I”m saying that we know the military has more information than they are sharing. The cause of death of a civilian trans woman on the base should be shared. The secrecy of these investigations can cause harm to innocents. Like Chyna Carrillo.
And much like my post earlier this week noting a connection in anti-trans violence harming cisgender people, it is critical that we look at the ways that institutional oppression impact the community. We’ve had tremendous conversations about the ways misogyny, racism, and sexual violence are embedded in our military – we also talk about soldiers relying on food stamps and food pantries to feed their families. It is critical that we talk more directly about the realities that transgender and nonbinary individuals – both soldiers and civilians – experience on military bases.
These intersectional conversations and institutional changes must include gender identity as more and more out trans and nonbinary individuals are participating in the community in spaces that have historically been unwelcoming and unsafe.
The community and friends of Cam Chamberlain deserve an answer, no matter how awful. It is not up to the military to decide if anyone needs the truth – of course, we all do.
Rest in power, Cam.
May your memory be a revolution.