More details have emerged about the U.S. soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians, including nine children, last week. According to the AP, 38-year-old father of two Robert Bales had, "joined the Army after a Florida investment job went sour, had a Seattle-area home condemned, struggled to make payments on another and failed to get a promotion or a transfer a year ago."
Bales is currently at Fort Leavenworth's military prison and may face criminal charges this week. While military sources have suggested that Bales was drinking (which is prohibited) when the rampage occurred, and that marital issues were on his mind, his lawyer John Henry Browne said, "Public reports that Sergeant Bales' supervisors, family and friends describe him as a level-headed, experienced soldier are consistent with information gathered by the defense team. It is too early to determine what factors may have played into this incident and the defense team looks forward to reviewing the evidence, examining all of Sergeant Bale's medical and personnel records and interviewing witnesses."
The AP looked at records in Washington State, where Bales and his wife lived with their two children: "His legal troubles included charges that he assaulted a girlfriend and, in a hit-and run accident, ran bleeding in military clothes into the woods, court records show. He told police he fell asleep at the wheel and paid a fine to get the charges dismissed, the records show." And Reuters reports that the Bales own two homes, "both of which are underwater, meaning the mortgage balances are greater than the value of the properties."
Their main home near Lake Tapps, a white house with four bedrooms about 45 minutes east of Tacoma, was recently listed for sale at $229,000, according to the online real estate service Zillow.com. But Zillow, citing public transaction records, shows they paid for $280,000 for it in 2005.
Another realty website, for John L. Scott Real Estate, promotes the property as a "short sale," which occurs when a bank is willing to allow a homeowner to sell at a price below what is owed on the mortgage, accepting the loss on the remaining balance.
A smaller second property in the city of Auburn, about 10 miles to the north of their Lake Tapps home, was purchased by Karilyn Bales, then Karilyn Primeau, in 1999 for $99,500. While the property is assessed at $148,000, property records show it was remortgaged for the amount of $178,500 in 2006.
That property is in poor condition and has a "Do not occupy" notice from city authorities, posted in November 2010 due to "lack of sanitary facilities, lack of water to building.
Bales was on his fourth tour of duty, and the NY Times look at his previous tours, including the tour where he injured his brain: Also, he was once deployed to "Panjwai, a rural stretch of grape fields and mud-brick villages outside the city of Kandahar, the province’s capital. But his unit appears to have been charged with building up the local police, a frustrating task that requires organizing often suspicious Afghan men into a security force. Although Panjwai is far quieter than it used to be, largely because of the Obama administration’s so-called surge, it is still violent in a low-grade, death-by-a-thousand-cuts way."
Browne has implied that Bales' fourth deployment strained him, but Army spokesman Col. Thomas W. Collins said, "Lots of soldiers have four deployments, and they’re not accused of things like this."