The parents of a U.S. Army private from Cattaraugus County who was stabbed to death May 13 have been told the soldier responsible for the slaying is in custody.
But Dale and Barbara Lavrey have been unable to get more information from Army investigators about the identity of the person accused of killing Pvt. Thomas Lavrey at Fort Riley in Kansas.
The Lavreys told The Buffalo News on Tuesday night that during a memorial service for their son at Fort Riley on May 24, they were advised by Army Investigator Brett A. Brandon that the Army had a suspect in custody.
The family has not been told whether someone has formally been charged.
Pvt. Lavrey, a West Seneca native who was living in Machias before he joined the service, was stabbed in the back of the neck in his bedroom at the base and his car was stolen afterward.
The Criminal Investigative Division at Fort Riley has declined to comment on the fatal stabbing when contacted by The News and other media outlets from Western New York and Kansas.
Investigators have told the family they cannot yet return Pvt. Lavery's personal items because of ongoing DNA-related evidence testing.
"There's no word for it," Dale Lavrey said of the frustration he feels about the lack of information the family has received. He said other military families in similar circumstances have told them it's common to get the runaround.
"With some 20,000 deaths in the military a year in combat and through suicides and murders, we found out the cover-ups just keep going on over and over and over, and families like ours are being lied to," Dale Lavrey said.
"We still don't know officially what happened to Tom," lamented his wife, Pvt. Lavrey's stepmother.
The Lavreys said they have been consulting lawyers about their legal options.
Pvt. Lavrey, 21, joined the Army in March 2010 after obtaining his GED. He had been stationed at Fort Riley since September 2010 and was a utilities equipment repairman for the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Special Troops Battalion, 1st Sustainment Brigade, 1st Infantry Division.
He was found unresponsive after breakfast May 13 and was pronounced dead a short time later at the Irwin Army Community Hospital.