By Gary Mitchell
A Cannon Air Force Base airman is being held in a Wichita Falls, Texas, jail in connection with the February death of a female airman, a Texas newspaper reported last week.
Garry M. Little, commander of the Office of Special Investigations at Sheppard Air Force Base, said authorities detained the man Wednesday and brought him to Wichita County Jail for the federal investigation.
Little said he was unable to release the name of the man being held, describing him as only an active-duty member of the armed services.
Jail records indicate the only person placed under federal hold in the jail Wednesday was a 30-year-old Cannon airman, the Wichita Falls Times Record News reported.
The man is a staff sergeant assigned to the 27th Logistics Readiness Squadron at Cannon. He works as a fuels laboratory supervisor, said Capt. Mike Garcia, acting chief of public affairs at Cannon. Garcia said that was all the information available.
Garcia would not say if the Cannon airman is a suspect in the homicide.
“We’ll be able to release more information if and when there’s a preferral of charges, and that looks like it may be within a week,” Garcia said.
No charges have been filed in the death of Senior Airman Shelby Dawn Orelup, 22, Little said.
Orelup had been strangled, according to toxicology reports, said Master Sgt. Jeff Szczechowski, a public affairs spokesman at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls.
Orelup’s body was found about 2:35 p.m. Feb. 28 in a ditch near an area drinking establishment on Sheppard Access Road leading to the air base, according to Wichita Falls news accounts.
A hearing would be held in the next seven days to determine whether the man should continue to be detained, Sheppard base officials said.
The suspect being held could face a special court-martial, which would be handled by Sheppard, or a general court-martial, where a local hearing would be held before the case would be passed to another base, Sheppard officials said.
The case could still be handled locally under Texas law if authorities decide to follow that route, Air Force officials said.
Sheppard Air Force Base doesn’t have a detention facility, which is why the suspect is being held in the county jail in Wichita Falls.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.