(Corrects name of sister to Laura Blevins, 6th paragraph)
By Jim Forsyth
Feb 4 The suspect accused of shooting dead
former Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle and another man stole a
vehicle from the scene and told his sister "I traded my soul for
a new truck," investigators said.
Eddie Ray Routh was being held on $3 million bond on a
capital murder charge for the double-slaying on Saturday.
The fact that Routh, 25, of Lancaster, Texas, served in the
Marines from 2006 to 2010, including a tour in Iraq, put
attention on the psychological wounds of war. The new evidence,
which first came to light on Monday, suggests robbery could have
formed part of the motive.
Kyle, author of the book "American Sniper," was credited
with more than 150 kills as a sniper for U.S. forces in Iraq and
had been working with former warriors recovering from physical
and emotional injuries, sometimes inviting them to the shooting
Randy Fowler, an investigator with the Erath County Texas
Sheriff's Department, wrote in the affidavit that Routh drove to
his sister's home in Midlothian, about 50 miles (80 km) from the
gun range where the shooting took place, shortly after the
Routh was driving what his sister, Laura Blevins, described
as a "big dark or black Ford F-250 pickup that she had never
seen before," Fowler said in the affidavit.
"It substantiated Routh's claim that he had murdered Chris
Kyle and his friend, and he told the Blevinses that he had
killed Kyle and that he had 'traded his soul for a new truck',"
Routh was later arrested at his home in Lancaster Texas,
south of Dallas, after leading officials on a brief police chase
while he was at the wheel of the truck, which has been
identified as the truck that Kyle, Routh, and Kyle's friend Chad
Littlefield drove in to the shooting range earlier that day.
Routh's sister advised him to turn himself in, but Routh
said he wanted to get to Oklahoma to avoid Texas authorities,
the affidavit said.
Kyle, a friend identified as Chad and "another vet" arrived
at the shooting range about 3:15 p.m. Saturday, the affidavit
said, an employee of the Rough Creek Lodge shooting range.
"At around 4:50 p.m., he (another employee) went to the
shooting range and found Chris and Chad lying on the ground
covered in blood," the report said of one employee.
Twice in recent months, Routh was taken to a mental hospital
after behaving erratically, according to police reports from
Dallas and his hometown of Lancaster.
Investigators have discussed Routh's troubled past,
including brushes with the law in Lancaster and in Dallas.
Dallas television station KTVT quoted relatives of Routh
saying they believed he was a victim of the government's
inability to provide the mental health treatment he needed for
the emotional problems he suffered in combat.
Police in Lancaster took Routh to a mental hospital last
fall, after family members told officers he was threatening to
kill himself during an argument with his father, KTVT reported.
Law enforcement officers have not said Routh specifically
suffered from post traumatic stress, a severe anxiety disorder
caused by witnessing or participating in traumatic events, but
the killings renewed the focus on PTSD among veterans.
About 30 percent of returning Iraq and Afghanistan war
veterans suffered from some form of post-traumatic stress, the
Department of Veterans Affairs estimated in a report released
Kyle, who served four combat tours of duty in Iraq, won two
Silver Stars and five Bronze Stars for bravery, according to his
book, which covers his military service from 1999 to 2009.
(Editing by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Alden Bentley)