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Family of soldier who hanged himself at Fort Hood want answers

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Logan Castello was born to be a soldier. At age 7, he wore an army camouflage outfit for Halloween and from that day on he would hardly take it off, his mother recalls.

He never had plans other than to join the military. Disappointed that he narrowly missed out on a place at the Naval Academy, he set his eyes on the Army and enrolled after a brief spell in college.

And basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia, was everything young Logan had expected. ‘Every time we spoke, he was happy and accomplished. He was in a leadership position in his unit and he was excited,’ mom Patty Troyan told DailyMail.com in an exclusive interview.

But then Castello was transferred to Fort Hood, the troubled Texas base that has been rocked by more than two dozen deaths over the past year.

Within two months Logan Castello, 21, was one of those dead. He committed suicide by hanging himself with the leash he had bought for Ham, the golden retriever puppy he and his new wife Kayla had gotten just a month earlier.

‘I don’t know what happened at Fort Hood, but it broke him,’ said his mother. ‘He left home excited, positive, motivated. He was proud to be going to Fort Hood and starting his career.’

Logan Castello was a soldier at Fort Hood before taking his own life in November 2019. He committed suicide by hanging himself with the leash he had bought for Ham, the golden retriever puppy he and his new wife Kayla (left) had gotten just a month earlier

Castello’s widow Kayla said: ‘Demons took over my husband’s head, and as sad as it is, no one has an answer for it or ever will’

The base has been plagued by a string of tragedies and suspicious deaths with a total of 28 soldiers dead and foul play is suspected in at least five of the deaths 

Now, 10 months after her son’s death, Troyan is left waiting for answers as to what went so tragically wrong. She has still not received the autopsy report, nor any explanation as to why he had been seeing an army psychiatrist in the days leading up to his death.

‘The base cares more about its equipment than its soldiers,’ Kayla Castello said of Fort Hood 

‘We found in his belongings a prescription for Vistaril (a sedative used to treat anxiety) and a prescription for a beta blocker,’ said Troyan, 46, who lives in St. Clairsville, Ohio, close to the West Virginia border. ‘I am not sure how many times, but I know he had been seeing a psychiatrist. We cannot get the records.

‘He did not have any mental health history at all,’ added Troyan, a prison social worker. ‘There was nothing to indicate what was going to happen.’

Castello’s widow Kayla added: ‘Demons took over my husband’s head, and as sad as it is, no-one has an answer for it or ever will.’

She said just four days earlier they had gone to see a concert by Illenium, a favorite artist. ‘It was one of the happiest I had ever seen him,’ she told DailyMail.com.

‘And the night before he took his life we took our dogs to the lake and we talked about how perfect it was and how happy we were. It was impossible seeing him ever doing such a thing.

‘I definitely believe Fort Hood could have done more for him. If you’re a healthcare professional and your patient tells you they are having suicidal thoughts, you don’t just pat them on the back and send them off for the day.

‘The base cares more about its equipment than its soldiers,’ she said.

But she said she does not specifically blame the Army for her husband’s death. ‘I could go on about the many problems of Fort Hood but no, a military base cannot cause someone to do that to themselves.’

Kayla Castello, 22, went to high school with Logan. They married in September 2019, two and a half months before he killed himself. She has moved back to Ohio since her husband’s death

‘And the night before he took his life we took our dogs to the lake and we talked about how perfect it was and how happy we were. It was impossible seeing him ever doing such a thing,’ Kayla told DailyMail.com. Logan is pictured walking his dog Ham

The problems at Fort Hood — which houses some 50,000 solders — have been in the national spotlight since Private First Class Vanessa Guillen, 20, went missing in April. Her bludgeoned body was found in July. Aaron Robinson, also 20, a soldier suspected of her murder, shot himself dead when police tried to take him into custody.

Commanding officer Maj. Gen. Scott Effland was removed from his post three weeks ago after complaints that he had not been transparent about the Guillen investigation.

But still the troubles continue. Just on Friday a soldier was arrested at Fort Hood for making ‘homicidal threats’ to his leadership.

Eight Democratic members of Congress last week toured the base — nicknamed ‘The Great Place.’ They said they found poor living conditions in barracks and base housing and a culture of fear and low morale.

‘I’m deeply concerned about the soldiers here and their families,’ said Rep. Jackie Spieir of California, chair of the military personnel sub panel of the Armed Forces Committee, who led the delegation.

Former Army Ranger Rep. Jason Crow of Colorado said the barracks were among the worst he had ever seen. He said he photographed wasp nests in the stairwells, sagging blinds in nearly every room that had them and a basement classroom that had chairs missing legs.

‘In the military, the small things are big,’ Crow said. ‘The command has a big job in front of it. They’ve got to get in front of units and fix this stuff quickly.’

Patty Troyan agrees. ‘It is appalling that so many kids have died,’ she told DailyMail.com. ‘Obviously the base is mismanaged and needs restructure from the top down and there needs to be a lot of reform to protect the soldiers.

‘But I am not confident that there will be reforms.’

Vanessa Guillen, 20, vanished from the base after telling her family she was being sexually harassed. Her body was discovered in July

Corlton Chee (left) died on August 30 after a training exercise. In May of this year the body of Army Pfc. Brandon S. Rosecrans (right) was discovered with gunshot wounds and his Jeep was found three miles away engulfed in flames

Pvt. Mejhor Morta, 26, of Pensacola, Florida was found dead July 17 in the vicinity of Stillhouse Hollow Lake, around 15 miles from the Fort Hood base

Te body of Sgt. Elder Fernandes, 23, (left) was discovered after he went missing back on August 17. Fort Hood soldier, Pfc. Gregory Morales (right) was reported missing from the base a year ago on August 20, 2019. The 24-year-old’s remains were found on June 21 in a field in Killeen

The body of Spc. Francisco Gilberto Hernandezvargas, 24, left, was recovered from Stillhouse Hollow Lake following a boating incident. Shelby Tyler Jones, right, was shot dead at a convenience store in Killeen in March

Fort Hood did not respond to DailyMail.com’s request for comment. After the congressional delegation’s visit, acting commanding officer Maj. Gen. John Richardson issued a statement, Military.com reported.

‘The past several months have been difficult and challenging at Fort Hood,’ Richardson said. ‘We will work collectively with our communities, Fort Hood units, U.S. Army Forces Command, the Department of the Army and our elected officials to address these complex and challenging issues.’

Guillen and Castello are only two of nearly 30 Fort Hood soldiers to die in the past 12 months. There have been five homicides in 2020 alone, as well as six suicides, five accidental deaths, one killed in combat and eight from illness or undetermined causes.

2020 FORT HOOD DEATHS BY CAUSE: 

Accidents – 8

Suicide –  6

Homicides – 5

Undetermined – 6

Illness – 2

In combat – 1 

Most recently Private Corlton Chee, 25, died on August 30, two days after collapsing during training. His family have alleged foul play saying his body was found with bruises and scratches. Five days earlier Sgt. Elder Fernandes, 23, hanged himself from a tree after claiming he had been sexually abused by a senior officer.

‘The soldiers who took their own lives deserve the same recognition as those who were murdered,’ Patty Troyan told DailyMail.com.

‘Just because they weren’t found in a shallow grave doesn’t mean their deaths weren’t just as impacting.’

Logan Castello died on November 20 last year. Troyan and her ex-husband, Logan’s father Ken Castello, were due to join him for Thanksgiving at the apartment he shared with his wife in Killeen, the Texas town that hosts Fort Hood.

‘I spoke to him two days before he died,’ said Troyan. ‘We were talking about the Thanksgiving plans and he said he was inviting guys who didn’t have leave and weren’t going home and he said ‘Mom, this is going to be the best Thanksgiving ever.’

‘That was the last time I ever spoke to him.’

Instead of a family celebration in Texas, Troyan got to visit Fort Hood for her son’s memorial in December. ‘Everybody was very gracious to us,’ she said. ‘The service was beautiful.

‘If they had taken as much effort with him when he was alive as they did after he was dead, then we wouldn’t have needed the memorial.

Troyan said she had noticed subtle changes in her son during phone calls after he went to Fort Hood. ‘He was kind of shying away from career military and said he might just finish his four-year contract.

‘I definitely noticed there was a change in his attitude, but he assured me that he was fine, that he felt Fort Hood was mismanaged and it wasn’t exactly what he had expected. But he never sounded depressed.

Kayla said she too noticed changes after her husband joined the military. ‘I guess that’s what they do to them,’ she said. ‘But in the last few weeks there was nothing out of the ordinary.

‘Of course, he had his not-so-good days, we all do. But most days he was okay — or portrayed to be okay.’

Kayla said she noticed changes after her husband joined the military. ‘I guess that’s what they do to them,’ she said. ‘But in the last few weeks there was nothing out of the ordinary’

Kayla said just four days before his death they had gone to see a concert by Illenium, a favorite artist. ‘It was one of the happiest I had ever seen him,’ she told DailyMail.com

Kayla Castello, 22, went to high school with Logan. They married in September 2019, two and a half months before he killed himself. She has moved back to Ohio since her husband’s death.

Troyan says Castello was removed from his unit’s training rotation and he missed a trip to California for field training.

‘He was ineligible for deployment for one year because he sought mental health treatment and he was placed on isolated job duties,’ she said.

‘I spoke to him one day and he was sitting in a car watching a parking lot and he had to do that for 24 hours alone. He said it was just in case anything happened in the parking lot. I don’t know why he was there. This was after he sought help.’

‘He should have been hospitalized. If someone reports suicidal ideation to a professional, in my experience, they are obligated to protect them from themselves.

‘Part of my job responsibilities in the prison is doing assessments for suicidal risk. If an inmate reports thoughts of any type of self-harm, the standard protocol is to place them on watch status in our medical building where they are monitored. They are evaluated every day, they are provided coping mechanisms, evaluated by a doctor and every precaution is taken to stabilize them and keep them safe. They have very limited property.

‘I absolutely think that should have happened to my son. He should have been hospitalized.’

As the first anniversary of her son’s death grows close, Patty Troyan says her immediate goal is to go through a week without crying in her office. ‘I haven’t done it yet,’ she said.

‘I cry every day. When he left for Fort Hood and I was hugging him on the front porch and I started to cry, he said: ”Mom, why are you crying?” He said: ”I’m gonna be fine. This is exciting. I can’t wait to start my life.” I told him this was the first time in his life that I didn’t know exactly when I would see him again.

‘I never saw him alive again.’

But she says she wills herself to go on for the sake of Logan’s younger brother who is now 11. ‘He saves my life every day. I have to take care of him and he needs me. Logan was his hero.

Troyan supported her elder son in his ambition to join the armed forces. ‘I wanted him to do whatever it was he wanted to do. I wanted him to take his own path.’

But she is adamant she does not want his brother to follow in his footsteps. ‘I would do everything I could to dissuade him,’ she said.

‘I’m not even going to encourage him to go very far away. He needs to be close enough that I can get to him if something is wrong, because I won’t go to another child’s funeral.

‘He told me he might go to Belmont College, a community college just up the road.

‘I told him that’s a fabulous idea, it’s practically Ivy League, you don’t need to look any further.’

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