Private Richard Halliday ➜ Disappeared after leaving his barracks at Fort Bliss. The army is accused of failing to properly respond to his disappearance, and Richard’s family continues to call greater transparency as they search for their missing son.
July 23, 2020 (Thursday)
Fort Bliss Army Base,
El Paso, Texas, USA
Alternative Name: Unknown
Missing from: Fort Bliss Army Base, El Paso, Texas, USA
Date Missing: July 23, 2020 (Thursday)
Taken By: Unknown
Richard Halliday is the much beloved son of Robert and Patricia Halliday, adopted at five years old from Poland. The Hallidays were a military family, living in Germany where Robert served until he retired. The Hallidays then continued living abroad in Germany and Ireland for some time, offering Richard a highly globalized youth.
Richard is a bright young man, comfortable handing new situations and adapting. He even picked up two difficult languages – German and Korean. He is also physically fit, with a black-belt in karate and hobbies in travel, hiking, and camping.
In April 2018, Richard proudly stepped up to carry on the family legacy, joining up with the US Army in April 2018. He wanted to work towards a college degree and saw this as a solid opportunity. By 2020, Richard was a private assigned to D Battery in the 1-43rd Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade under the 32nd Army Air Missile Defense Command. He was stationed at Fort Bliss, a US Army Base in El Paso, Texas.
Richard’s initial reports were very positive and he seemed to be excelling under the military’s structure. He came in first on various training assignments and had received medals for different achievements. He performed well during his 9 months stationed in Qatar and was the fastest runner in his unit. He was capable and it showed – promoted several times in a surprisingly short period, faster than most of his peers.
Then suddenly a little into his second year, something seemed to happen that changed his situation. He began to have problems with the leadership above him and expressed an interest in getting out of the army. He found himself disciplined and under severe punishments and was concerned about his future (see the discussion regarding his Article 15 below). He was clearly under substantial stress and unhappy, but agreed to just wait it out.
Everything changed on Thursday in July, when Richard was supposedly noted leaving his barracks at the Fort. He was apparently dressed in regular clothes (cargo pants, t-shirt, hoodie, and running shoes) instead of his military gear, meaning he was not headed for work. Where he went from there, whether or not he ever left the base, what happened while he was gone – these are the questions that have never been answers. The following day, Richard failed to report to work on time and was immediately declared AWOL (absent without leave). Labeled a ‘deserter’, he was written off and the military moved on.
Richard has not been seen since and many wonder if more questionable circumstances were in play.
It wasn’t until thirty-six days after he disappeared that his parents learned he was even missing. Concerned they had not heard from Richard, his parents finally contacted his commander asking if everything was alright. The commander informed them at that point that Richard had disappeared, simply noting he had been labeled a deserter. At this point, no search or investigation had been launched.
The military initially reported that Richard’s passport was missing, which strengthened the claims he had left on his own (especially with his international experience). However, after a month passed, it was found that his passport had always been in their possession, found amongst his things in the barracks. Richard had also spoken to his parents the day before and given no signs of planning to leave.
A female witness then informed the family she had seen Richard’s credit card on another soldier on September 26. According to her, she met the soldier on a dating app and they agreed to meet at a Sonic that day. He volunteered to pay, but when he grabbed his wallet several cards fell out. Including a blue-and-white one with Richard’s name on it. The soldier allegedly suggested Richard had fled to Cancun with a girlfriend and he was using the card to make the army think Richard was still local (Link).
The military later reported that the soldier did not have Richard’s card and that the woman had recanted. However, the woman herself spoke again with the family and testified that she had told the military investigators about the card and had not changed her story (Link). Richards credit card were later found to be maxed out (did the card balance shows they were used after Richard’s disappearance? No information has been released about this).
The military as an employer had stationed Richard in a location of their choosing – apart from his family, friends, and anyone else who might have personally known to monitor his safety (his family were in Florida at the time). His location was uncertain at any given time with deployments and the possibility of being stationed elsewhere, making it difficult for him to have connections off base who would know when he was missing or not.
He was in a place the military chose, living on the military base, and under the responsibility of military commanders. This situation is not uncommon amongst global organizations, but it does place an ethical duty upon the employer to monitor the health and well-being of their workers. They failed in this duty when they did not alert authorities or his family upon his disappearance.
According to the base commander Major General Sean Bernebe, the standard procedure was such that a missing soldier was automatically assumed a deserter. No further actions or investigation required. This despite the fact that military personnel were potentially the only people in a position to note a problem and sound the alarm.
The policies have since changed, but time will tell and at what cost?
As late as September, the army was still reporting that Richard had left the base voluntarily and in violation of his orders (Link). However, none of the sources we found offer explicit evidence regarding anything surrounding Richard’s disappearance. Nothing seems to prove he ever left the base and even the source that shows he left his barracks is not clearly identified. Was there a video? Witnesses? Where did the description of the clothing come from?
Given the amount of security, oversight, and video recordings that are maintained on any base, it seems incredible that the military cannot determine when a soldier left, the path by which he left, or anything related to his leaving. This either speaks to a very serious lack of transparency or a serious failure of security. Either way, it is concerning.
We are of course open to the idea we missed something or to anyone who can explain and will update this article immediately.
The US Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID) did not step in to investigate until September 1, 2020, whereon they announced their investigation revealed no signs of foul play or suspicious circumstances. February 2021, the CID testified that they had invested 500+ Hours into investigating Richard’s disappearance. Forensic specialists were brought in to inspect the barracks and 80 other rooms within. The military has performed multiple searches of the area surrounding the fort including local homes, railroad tracks, homeless areas, drainageways, waterways, and the local Franklin Mountain State Park and Indian Peak Trail.
The army is also offering a $25,000 Reward for any information that might lead to finding Richard (CID, 2020).
The Halliday family have expressed grave concerns that the military is not properly communicating with them despite promises of contact. They do not believe the military provided all the information they possess regarding Richard’s time in the months leading up to and after his disappearance. They also suggest the military is not seriously attempting to look for Richard or investigate the surroundings of his disappearance.
At this point, the Halliday’s are spearheading the search for Richard and continue to appeal to the public for information into the days leading up to, the disappearance, and the aftermath. They have also asked persons across the border in Mexico to keep an eye out and share Richard’s information incase someone there comes across anything.
Petition to Rescind Article 15
The Find Richard Halliday FB Page have asked the public to sign a petition requesting the army rescind an Article 15 laid against Richard in April 2020. This charge refers to Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice which gives a commander authority to determine punishment where the offense is deemed minor (as opposed to something requiring judicial proceedings, like a court marshal) (Article 15 Fact Sheet). The petition asks that both Richard’s Article 15 charge be removed and present Article 15 charges be delayed until the practice is reviewed and investigated. It argues this practice gives commander unmonitored power over soldiers below.
Richard was given an Article 15 charge demonstrating a ‘pattern of mis-conduct’ where in there were at least two examples within 90 days.
- Underage Drinking (he was 20 with a 0.04BAC) – the limit was 0.08BAC. (It does not appear he was driving.)
- Disobeyed a battery commander’s ‘Shelter in Place’ order
- ‘The order was given 27 March 2020 at 2100 hours the evening the Battery returned from the field and after Day Zero recovery was completed. The order was given to the acting 1SGT to pass on to the Platoon Sergeants to give to the Soldiers.’ (Go Petition)
After the underage drinking incident, Richard was flagged (meaning he could no longer receive any positive marks or promotions, no classes, etc. until it was removed which could significantly impact his career), had to take classes, and was given a $1,000 bond.
The Suitcase Detective spoke with someone experienced in the military who stated this was not a particularly surprising decision for underage drinking as the military is strict about these issues. They said had he been driving, it could haver resulted in a discharge and certainly would have normally resulted in the flagging and possibly an automatic Article 15. Another person said that removal of one’s rank would not be uncommon either. In this case, no Article 15 was forthcoming until later.
Disobeying an Order
Per Richard’s Mother (Link): On the evening of March 27th, an order for shelter in place was given by the commander to an SFC to be passed to the lower ranks. This was to be the first day that Richard’s unit had returned from their post in Qatar (Day Zero). It is not clear when the soldiers were actually informed of the order or if Richard knew of the order. They were allowed to leave for fuel, for food, for medical appointments, and for work assignments. Rumors say soldiers were able to pay $80.00 under the table for some time out of the barracks during this time in a racketeering scheme but we haven’t seen the evidence of this yet (Link). At some point the next morning, Richard left base on a solo drive for reasons unknown. It is not clear if it was for fuel or for food (allowed exceptions).
This is the event that finally triggered the Article 15, although it referenced also the underage drinking situation.
After the Article 15 was filed, Richard was given a strict punishment – demoted by three ranks and assigned 45 days of extra duty (working early morning to midnight) along with 45 days of restriction (house arrest) and 50% reduction in pay for two months. He also remained flagged. The petition says he was working in difficult conditions (outside in 90F+ temperatures and a mask for hours on end) and had become worn out. They argue that he was targeted as an example and that the Article 15 was being misused.
It was shortly after this that Richard vanished.
One does wonder why a soldier on strict punishment like this was not under increased observation for mental health and stability. When a soldier who was performing exceptionally well is suddenly set back and faces career altering issues, one would suppose the military had an ethical duty to monitor psychological well-being. How then was a soldier in this situation overlooked when he went missing in the middle of such a mess?
For more information, see the Petition. To see the document listing the charges as issued by the military, see this image.
- Date of Birth: –
- Age at Disappearance: 21
- Ethnicity: Caucasian
- Nationality: American
- Gender at Birth: Male
- Hair: Black
- Eye Color: Brown
- Height: 5’9″
- Weight: 162 lbs
Distinguishing Marks or Factors
- Speaks German and Korean
- Black Belt in Karate
- Gray or Turquoise Cargo Pants
- Gray T-Shirt
- Charcoal Gray Zip-Up Hoodie
- Gray Tennis Shoes with Red, Yellow, and White Paint stains
If You or Anyone You Know Has Information About The Disappearances, Please Contact:
- Fort Bliss CID Office at 915-568-1700
- Fort Bliss Military Police at 915-744-1237
- Submit an anonymous report at https://www.cid.army.mil/report-a-crime.html
- Cavallier, A. (2021) ‘Parents plead for safe return of Fort Bliss soldier Pvt. Richard Halliday more than six months after his disappearance’, NBC News, 23 February. Link
- US Army (2020) ‘Action Plan to Prioritize People and Teams’, October. Link
- Borunda, D. (2020) ‘Foul play suspected in the disappearance of Fort Bliss soldier, family says’, El Paso Times, 10 October. Link
- Borunda, D. (2020) ‘Family expands search into Juárez for missing Fort Bliss soldier Pvt. Richard Halliday’, El Paso Times, 4 October. Link
- Paloma, N. (2020) ‘Woman comes forward with possible lead in case of missing Fort Bliss soldier’, Border Report, 26 October. Link
- Valencia, J. (2020) ‘Fort Bliss soldier leaves post; whereabouts unknown’, 4News, 3 September. Link