Murder of Tracie McBride

United States Army soldier Tracie Joy McBride was kidnapped, raped and murdered on February 18, 1995. Louis Jones Jr., a former soldier, was tried and convicted in the U.S. federal court system of kidnapping resulting in death. Jones, sentenced to death because he had also raped her, argued that he should be spared the death penalty due to the damages he received from the Gulf War syndrome. His appeals were unsuccessful and he was put to death by lethal injection in 2003.

Tracie Joy McBride
Tracie Joy McBride

(1975-05-27)May 27, 1975
DiedFebruary 18, 1995(1995-02-18) (aged 19)
Cause of deathTrauma
Resting placeFort Snelling National Cemetery
Fort Snelling, Minnesota, U.S.
EducationCentennial High School (Circle Pines, Minnesota)
OccupationUnited States Army soldier
Louis Jones Jr.
Louis Jones Jr - edit-NR.jpg
Born(1950-03-04)March 4, 1950
DiedMarch 18, 2003(2003-03-18) (aged 53)
OccupationU.S. Army soldier
Criminal statusExecuted by lethal injection
Spouse(s)Sandra Lane (April 13, 1992 – 1994)
Conviction(s)Kidnapping resulting in death (18 U.S.C. § 1201)[note 1][1]
Criminal penaltyDeath by lethal injection

Mark Miller of Newsweek characterized the Jones case as unusual due to the Gulf War syndrome defense strategy.[2]


On February 18, 1995, 44-year old Louis Jones drove onto Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas, and kidnapped Private Tracie Joy McBride,[3] a 19-year old from Centerville, Minnesota.[4] Jones was looking for his ex-wife, but instead decided to kidnap McBride.[2] McBride was on the telephone with a friend,[5] and in a laundry facility when she was abducted. Two privates attempted to rescue McBride, but Jones rendered one unconscious by hitting him.[6]

Jones took McBride to his house, raped her, and held her in a closet.[5] He forced McBride to use hydrogen peroxide on herself, washed McBride's clothes,[7] and forced McBride to walk on towels; these efforts were part of an attempt to conceal the crime by hiding any fibers and other possible evidence. He then drove McBride to a remote area and beat her to death with a tire iron.[2] McBride died under a bridge,[6] off of Texas State Highway 277 in Coke County, Texas, about 27 miles (43 km) north of San Angelo.[8] McBride had been hit in the head at least nine times.[5] Dr. Jan Garavaglia, who was at the time of the murder an associate medical examiner in Bexar County, examined McBride's body at a local morgue. Garavaglia stated that the trauma to her head was "worse than most high-impact car wrecks."[9] Jones likely forced McBride to walk to the point where she was killed; only mud was found on her boots, and no scuff marks were present.[10] McBride's body was found clothed in her U.S. Army battle uniform, itself in excellent condition;[11] the clothing had no forensic evidence of rape.[12] The undergarments were not present.[13]

Jones was arrested on March 1,[6] by the San Angelo Police Department for the assault of his ex-wife, Staff Sergeant Sandra Lane, after she filed a complaint with the Air Force's Office of Special Investigations (OSI).[14] OSI agents made an inquiry to Jones on whether he was involved in McBride's abduction,[1] and Jones confessed to killing her;[2] he then led authorities to McBride's body.[15] Initially, Jones stated that he did not rape McBride.[16] McBride's body was autopsied by Garavaglia at the Bexar County Forensic Science Center in San Antonio, Texas.[17] Due to the unusually cool weather and the placement of the body under a bridge, the body was well preserved.[18] Garavaglia was able to determine that Jones had raped McBride despite Jones's efforts to conceal the rape, and this allowed federal prosecutors to ask for the death penalty. Jones later confessed to a psychiatrist to raping McBride.[19]


Louis Jones Jr.Edit

Jones, born on March 4, 1950, was a native of Shelby County, Tennessee,[6] and grew up in Chicago.[20] According to testimony presented at his criminal trial, Jones experienced sexual and physical abuse.[21]

He served in the Army for 22 years.[20] Richard A. Serrano of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "It was in the Army where he excelled."[21] Jones, an Army Ranger, participated in the Invasion of Grenada and the Gulf War of 1991. He was the leader of a platoon in Grenada, and he received a Commendation Medal due to his actions during a ground attack in Iraq.[2] He became a master sergeant, and after he left the Army, received an honorable discharge;[22] he retired in 1993, and his last known position was in the Rangers.[20] At the time of the crime, he worked on base as a bus driver.[23]

Jones was married three times,[21] and he had a daughter, Barbara;[15] he raised her as a single parent.[24] One of his wives, Sandra Lane, was an Army staff sergeant.[21] He became estranged from her;[2] she noted changes in his behavior after he returned from Iraq.[21] Jones had no previous criminal record.[25] Before the killing, he worked low-paying jobs and received low grades in university courses.[21] Lane filed an official complaint with the OSI on March 1, 1995 stating that, on February 16 of that year,[1] Jones had kidnapped her, made her take money out of her bank account, and committed sexual assault against her while at his residence.[13]

Tracie McBrideEdit

Tracie Joy McBride (May 27, 1975 – February 19, 1995[26]), a graduate of Centennial High School in Circle Pines, Minnesota,[27] was at the base for advanced intelligence training for a two-week period.[28] McBride aspired to become a music teacher.[27] McBride joined the United States Army after her high school graduation,[29] intending to fund her university education; she hoped to have her degree completed prior to the end of her tour of duty.[30] At the end of her life, McBride was in a romantic relationship with a member of the U.S. Marines.[31] She was assigned to Goodfellow in early February 1995 after completion of training,[32] at the Defense Language Institute at the Presidio of Monterey in Monterey, California.[citation needed] McBride was kidnapped 10 days after her arrival.[33]

Trial, appeals, and penaltyEdit

Ellis Unit, where Jones was initially confined by Texas authorities
United States Penitentiary, Terre Haute, where Jones was held on federal death row and executed

Jones, indicted in March 1995,[34] was tried in federal court in Lubbock, Texas, since he had kidnapped McBride from a military base.[4] His specific charge was "kidnapping within special maritime/territorial jurisdiction resulting in death".[35] U.S. Attorney Tanya K. Pierce was the prosecutor.[2] McBride's family supported the prosecutor's decision to seek the death penalty for Jones.[36] The trial was moved from San Angelo to Lubbock due to the news coverage in the former city.[23]

The trial began on October 16, 1995.[1] Nine members of the twelve-person jury were female and the rest were male.[13] Jones stated that he committed the crime due to trauma he received during his military duties,[25] indicative of the Gulf War syndrome.[2] Evidence showing brain damage to Jones was presented.[4] Jones was convicted on October 23,[1] after two days of testimony and 65 minutes of deliberation from the jury.[5] The penalty phase involved the jury deliberating for 6.5 hours.[13] He was given the federal death sentence.[25]

On June 11, 1996, Jones was entered into the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) as prisoner #999195 under an agreement with federal authorities.[6] The State of Texas housed its male death-row inmates at the Ellis Unit near Huntsville, Texas.[37] On July 13, 1999, he was moved into federal custody,[38] to the newly opened men's death row at U.S. Penitentiary, Terre Haute.[39] He was Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) prisoner #27265-077.[40]

Throughout the appeals process, Jones's lawyer, Tim Floyd, continued to argue that he should be spared the death penalty and have his sentence commuted to life imprisonment because nerve gas from Iraq had damaged Jones's brain. Floyd contacted University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center epidemiology department head Dr. Robert Haley, who published the first major studies related to Gulf War syndrome, and asked him to review his client's medical records; Haley argued that Jones had sustained brain damage and that it "was responsible for the personality changes that contributed significantly to the tragic events of his crime."[2] U.S. senator Kay Bailey Hutchison argued that Jones should have his brain scanned to check for any damage before any death sentence would be carried out.[41] Ross Perot also called for a commutation of the sentence to life without parole.[42] Throughout the appeal process, McBride's family advocated for Jones's execution.[20]

In 1999, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to overturn Jones's death sentence.[43] Jones's final appeal for clemency from President of the United States George W. Bush and his final appeal at the U.S. Supreme Court failed on March 17, 2003. On March 18, 2003,[15] Jones was executed at USP Terre Haute, making him the third federal prisoner executed since federal executions resumed in 2001.[22] McBride's family and a friend attended the execution.[15]

As of 2019, Jones remains the last person executed by the United States federal government.[13]


McBride was buried at Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minnesota.[28] The Tracie Joy McBride Scholarship Fund and its associated event, Tracie’s Night, were named after her; the fund is primarily managed by her sister, Stacie McBride-Cox.[27]

The episode "Life Interrupted" of the television show Dr. G: Medical Examiner, first aired in 2007, describes this case.[44]

In Human Behavior in the Social Environment: A Macro, National, and International Perspective, author Rudolph Alexander Jr. wrote that experiences of soldiers during the 2000s Iraq War, in which over 3,700 coming back from the war in 2005 stated that they had fears that they may lose control of themselves or harm another person and that 1,700 reported believing that they believed they were better off dead and considered hurting themselves, "provide support for Jones's claims."[45] 450,000 Americans served in the Gulf War.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ The text of the federal statute is here: "18 U.S. Code § 1201. Kidnapping." The relevant federal death penalty code, Federal Death Penalty Act of 1994 (FDPA), is "18 U.S.C. §§ 3591 (Sentence of death)-97"[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "United States of America, Plaintiff-appellee, v. Louis Jones, Defendant-appellant, 132 F.3d 232 (5th Cir. 1998)." Justia. January 5, 1998. Retrieved on March 1, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Miller, Mark. "Should Louis Jones Die?" Newsweek. March 12, 2003. Retrieved on July 17, 2016. "Prisoners seeking clemency from the White House are hardly unusual. But the Jones case is."
  3. ^ "Court upholds death penalty in Jones' murder conviction." Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Wednesday, June 23, 1999. Retrieved on July 17, 2016.
  4. ^ a b c Serrano, Richard A. "Gulf War Veteran Executed for 1995 Murder." Los Angeles Times. March 19, 2003. Retrieved on July 17, 2016.
  5. ^ a b c d "Former Army Ranger Found Guilty Of Soldier's Murder." Chicago Tribune. October 23, 1995. Retrieved on July 19, 2016.
  6. ^ a b c d e "Louis Jones." Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Retrieved on July 18, 2016.
  7. ^ "Life Interrupted" (2007), Dr. G: Medical Examiner, about 30:05 to 30:20.
  8. ^ "Suspect charged in soldier's abduction". United Press International. 1995-03-02. Retrieved 2018-06-22.
  9. ^ "Life Interrupted" (2007), Dr. G: Medical Examiner, about 15:25-15:30 of 44:34.
  10. ^ "Life Interrupted" (2007), Dr. G: Medical Examiner, about 13:55-14:26.
  11. ^ "Life Interrupted" (2007), Dr. G: Medical Examiner, about 11:50-12:10 of 44:34.
  12. ^ "Life Interrupted" (2007), Dr. G: Medical Examiner, about 13:25 to 13:35.
  13. ^ a b c d e Tufts, John; Alana Edgin (2019-07-26). "U.S. to resume executions: its last was for the murder of Tracie McBride of Goodfellow AFB". San Angelo Standard-Times. Gannett Publishing. Retrieved 2019-08-03.
  14. ^ Cutler, Christopher Q. "Death Resurrected: The Reimplementation of the Federal Death Penalty". Seattle University Law Review. 23 (1189): 1224 (PDF p. 36/42).
  15. ^ a b c d "Echoes of an earlier execution Eight months before Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. killed Dru Sjodin, Louis Jones Jr. was put to death for killing Minnesotan Tracie McBride." Minneapolis Star Tribune. September 24, 2006. Section Twin Cities + Region p. B1. Available at Pressreader, Available at the archives of the Star-Tribune.
  16. ^ "Life Interrupted" (2007), Dr. G: Medical Examiner, about 19:10 to 19:25.
  17. ^ "Life Interrupted" (2007), Dr. G: Medical Examiner, about 6:45-6:55 of 44:34.
  18. ^ "Life Interrupted" (2007), Dr. G: Medical Examiner, about 21:30-22:05 of 44:34.
  19. ^ "Life Interrupted" (2007), Dr. G: Medical Examiner, about 32:45 to 33:15.
  20. ^ a b c d Collins, Dan. "Gulf War Vet Asks Bush For Clemency." Associated Press at CBS News. March 17, 2003. Retrieved on July 18, 2016.
  21. ^ a b c d e f Serrano, Richard A. "A War Hero, a Condemned Killer." Los Angeles Times. January 14, 2003. p. 2. Retrieved on July 17, 2016.
  22. ^ a b Collins, Dan. "Gulf War Vet Executed." CBS. February 19, 2003. Retrieved on July 17, 2016.
  23. ^ a b "Ex-Army Ranger's trial starts." Houston Chronicle. October 16, 1995. Section A News, p. 13. Available on NewsBank, Record# HSC10161302363. Accessible from the Houston Public Library website with a library card.
  24. ^ "Life Interrupted" (2007), Dr. G: Medical Examiner, about 15:55 to 16:05 of 44:34.
  25. ^ a b c Serrano, Richard A. "A War Hero, a Condemned Killer." Los Angeles Times. January 14, 2003. p. 1. Retrieved on July 17, 2016.
  26. ^ Image of her grave from Find a Grave. Retrieved on August 6, 2016.
  27. ^ a b c Backus, Nick. "Nonprofit hosts ‘Tracie’s Night’." Quad Community Press. Tuesday February 12, 2013. Retrieved on July 18, 2016.
  28. ^ a b "TO PRIVATE TRACIE JOY MCBRIDE (Senate - March 08, 1995)." U.S. Congressional Record, Library of Congress. Retrieved on July 18, 2016.
  29. ^ "Life Interrupted" (2007), Dr. G: Medical Examiner, about 3:16-3:19/44:34.
  30. ^ "Life Interrupted" (2007), Dr. G: Medical Examiner, about 3:24-3:30/44:34.
  31. ^ "Life Interrupted" (2007), Dr. G: Medical Examiner, about 12:45 to 12:55 of 44:34.
  32. ^ "Life Interrupted" (2007), Dr. G: Medical Examiner, about 4:00-4:06/44:34.
  33. ^ "Life Interrupted" (2007), Dr. G: Medical Examiner, about 4:20-4:25/44:34.
  34. ^ "Former Ranger indicted." Associated Press at the Houston Chronicle. March 9, 1995. Section A News, p. 29. Available on NewsBank, Record# HSC03091261018, Accessible from the Houston Public Library website with a library card.
  35. ^ "Capital Punishment." Federal Bureau of Prisons. Retrieved on July 19, 2016.
  36. ^ "A death wish for Tracie's killer A Minnesota family wants the kind of justice they couldn't get at home." Minneapolis Star-Tribune. January 27, 2003. Retrieved on July 18, 2016.
  37. ^ "Death Row Facts." Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Retrieved on July 18, 2016.
  38. ^ "Offenders no longer on death row." Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Retrieved on July 18, 2016.
  39. ^ Ward, Mike (July 19, 1999). "Texas death row empties 3 cells in a single day". Austin American-Statesman. Retrieved August 22, 2010. Killers as Louis Jones 49 Juan Raul Garza 42 and Orlando Cordia Hall 28.
  40. ^ "Find an inmate." Federal Bureau of Prisons. Retrieved on July 18, 2016. Look for inmate#27265-077. Jones is listed as "Deceased 03/18/2003"
  41. ^ "Death Row Inmate Blames Gulf War." ABC News. March 1, Year Unspecified. Retrieved on July 17, 2016.
  42. ^ "Gulf War veteran is executed." Indianapolis Star. March 18, 2003. Retrieved on July 18, 2016.
  43. ^ Liptak, Adam. "Condemned Killer Exposed to Nerve Gas Seeks Mercy." The New York Times. March 16, 2003. Retrieved on July 18, 2016.
  44. ^ "Life Interrupted." Retrieved on July 18, 2016.
  45. ^ Alexander, Rudolph Jr. Human Behavior in the Social Environment: A Macro, National, and International Perspective. SAGE Publications, December 2, 2009. ISBN 1412950805, 9781412950800. p. 70.

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