Two NY soldiers stabbed to death, a 3rd in custody

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A Fort Drum soldier was arrested at a hotel in southern Ohio early Wednesday on a warrant charging him in the stabbing deaths of two fellow servicemen at an apartment near the military post in northern New York.

The bodies of Waide James, 20, and Diego Valbuena, 23, each with multiple stab wounds, were found Tuesday morning in an apartment complex housing mostly military families in Evans Mills near the post’s main entrance. Fort Drum is the 10th Mountain Division’s home base.

A warrant was issued charging Joshua Hunter, 20, with two counts of second-degree murder, county prosecutor Cindy Intschert said at a news conference. Based on a tip provided by New York authorities, Hunter was arrested at a hotel in Wheelersburg, Ohio, at about 2:30 a.m. Wednesday, said Capt. David Hall of the Scioto County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies called Hunter’s cell phone and told him to surrender, which he did without incident, Hall said. Hunter is in custody at the county jail in nearby Portsmouth, Ohio.

“The impression we have right now is there’s only one suspect,” Tim Dowe, the Jefferson County undersheriff, said in a telephone interview.

Dowe declined to provide a motive or say whether a murder weapon was recovered. Autopsies were scheduled Wednesday.

Hunter did not have a lawyer. He will likely be appointed one during a video arraignment at 11 a.m. Thursday with Portsmouth Municipal Court, Hall said.

Hunter indicated to deputies that he did not intend to fight extradition, Hall said.

The killings came a little more than three weeks after an Army psychiatrist was accused of killing 13 people at Fort Hood in Texas.

Hunter’s father, Jim Hunter of Ona, W.Va., told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that his son spent 15 months in Iraq and had been back for about four months. He said he had seen his son in October and “seemed to be doing good.”

Jim Hunter described his son as “a pretty outgoing kid” who was married, but had no children, and lived off base.

Sheriff’s deputies in New York, he said, had not provided much information. “They told us not to come up until they get him from wherever he’s at,” he said.

In September, James and Valbuena graduated from Fort Drum’s Warrior Leaders Course, which teaches skills required to lead, train, fight and accomplish the mission as noncommissioned officers. They and Hunter all listed each other as friends on their MySpace pages.