Army declares missing Fort Bragg soldier dead

mquillin@newsobserver.comMay 22, 2013 

Though hundreds of searchers have combed through miles of woods, brush and swamp looking for Spec. Kelli Bordeaux since she disappeared more than a year ago, no trace of the Fort Bragg Army medic has been found. Now the Army has declared her dead.

Army Adjutant General Brig. Gen. David Macewean declared Bordeaux deceased on Monday based on the findings and recommendations of a military board of inquiry convened at Fort Knox, Ky., in April to look at the case. The declaration does not presume Bordeaux is actually dead, the Army said in a statement, but allows for the family to receive survivor benefits.

Bordeaux, 25, was last seen April 14, 2012, leaving a bar near her Fayetteville apartment with an acquaintance. Fayetteville police have said they don’t believe she ever made it home. A friend in Bordeaux’s unit called police the next morning when she didn’t report to work.

Volunteers spent hours every weekend through the summer searching for Bordeaux, and continued to search less frequently afterward. According to a website dedicated to the case, www.findkelli.com, another search was conducted May 4.

Bordeaux grew up in St. Cloud, Fla., and joined the military as a way to save money for college and to help people and make a difference in the world, her family has said. She had been at Fort Bragg since November 2011.

No one has been charged in her disappearance.

The man who gave Bordeaux a ride to the bar and left with her several hours later is a registered sex offender. Police say the man, Nicholas Holbert, was living in his car and in woods behind the bar at the time Bordeaux went missing. He had served time for taking indecent liberties with a 5-year-old child, and was returned to jail last fall when police say he violated the terms of his release.

He was released again on May 10, according to state Department of Public Safety records.

Bordeaux was assigned to the 601st Area Support Medical Company, 44th Medical Brigade, and served as a combat medic.

“Specialist Bordeaux was a Soldier like no other. Kelli absolutely loved being in the Army and that attitude was reflected in everything she did,” Lt. Col. Heather A. Kness, commander of the 261st Multifunctional Medical Battalion, said in a statement. “Her infectious optimism, team spirit, and desire to serve our nation as a combat medic are an indelible legacy that will live on with every Soldier in the 261st Multifunctional Medical Battalion.

“Kelli’s entire family is in our thoughts and prayers, especially her mother, husband, sister and brother,” Kness said.

A reward of $33,000 is being offered for information that leads to an arrest and conviction in the case.

Quillin: 919-829-8989

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