Florida Man Arrested for Cold Case Murder of Pregnant U.S. Soldier in Germany

The Justice Department has announced that Florida Man Shannon L. Wilkerson has been arrested in the Northern District of Florida for the November 2001 strangulation murder of U.S. Army Soldier Amanda Gonzales, 19, who was four months pregnant at the time.

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Gonzales worked as a cook in the Headquarters Supply Company of the 127th Aviation Support battalion while stationed at the U.S. Army base of Fliegerhorst Kaserne in Hanau, Germany, about 30 miles east of Frankfurt, as part of her first Army assignment.

Shannon Wilkerson

On November 3, 2001, Pfc. Amanda Gonzales failed to show up for duty and was found dead two days later in her 3rd-floor barracks, with the cause of death listed as strangulation.

For over two decades, no arrests were made in the murder case.

Amanda Gonzales

Now, a former Army soldier has been arrested on a first-degree murder charge in northern Florida about Gonzales’ death more than 21 years later, the Justice Department announced. The exact location of his February 23 arrest wasn’t given.

Shannon L. Wilkerson, 42, is accused of acting with premeditation before killing Gonzales at Fliegerhorst Kaserne, an indictment said.

Wilkerson was discharged from the Army in July 2004, according to the indictment, which didn’t explain his discharge. In 2001, Wilkerson and Gonzales were stationed at Fliegerhorst Kaserne. She was from the Brazos Valley region of Texas, according to KBTX-TV.

Wilkerson is charged under the Military Extraterritorial jurisdiction act, which gives U.S. Federal courts jurisdiction over crimes committed outside the United States by, among others, former members of the armed forces who are no longer subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Wilkerson is charged with one count of first-degree murder. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.

At one time, Wilkerson operated Cardio Zone in Andalusia, a gym inside the Covington Mall that opened in 2015. He was also employed at the Emerald Coast Dragway in Holt, Florida.

Gonzales’ mother, Gloria Bates, never lost hope and believed her daughter would one day receive justice, she told the military newspaper Stars and Stripes in 2008.

“They took away my daughter and first grandchild.”

Bates fought back the tears as she described getting the call from authorities.

“It’s a sense of relief,” she said. “I feel like we bought a rollercoaster ticket, and we’re waiting for this ride to show up, and the ride showed up, and they’re like, ‘Get in. It’s time to go,’ and now, we’re going, and we’re holding on.”

The Bates’ visited Gonzales’ gravesite near their hometown of Bryan-College Station just before Valentine’s Day with the same promise.

“I’m like, we’re still here. Your daddy is with you, and we’re going to get through this. We’re going to finish this, and then this happened, and I’m like crying these tears of happiness,” Gloria Bates said. “Of wanting nobody to give up. Don’t give up because justice is out there.

According to a court filing, Wilkerson pleaded not guilty at Thursday’s hearing.

A trial date is set for March 27 in Pensacola.

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The FBI is investigating the case. It was initially investigated by the FBI’s Jacksonville Field Office, the Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations, and the Army’s Criminal Investigative Division.

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