Soldier Found Dead In Yard Of Home Identified; Autopsy Delayed

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KILLEEN (January 14, 2015) Fort Hood Wednesday identified the soldier whose death briefly sparked an Ebola scare in a local neighborhood as Spc. Kendrick Vernell Sneed, 24, of Bossier City, La.

Sneed, who was home on emergency leave from a deployment supporting the fight against Ebola in West Africa, was found dead early Tuesday morning in the yard of his home in Killeen.

Two tests confirmed that the soldier did not have the potentially deadly virus.

Sneed, who joined the Army in June 2009, had been assigned to Fort Hood’s 62nd Engineer Company, 36th Engineer Brigade since June 2012.

He was deployed to Afghanistan from February 2011 to January 2012 and again from May 2013 to December 2013.

He was among the Fort Hood soldiers deployed in October 2014 to West Africa.

Meanwhile Wednesday Bell County Justice of the Peace Bill Cooke, who ordered an autopsy in the case, said Wednesday that Sneed’s body remains at Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center at Fort Hood while authorities decide who will perform the autopsy.

He said the issue should be resolved “in the next couple of days.”

Officers responded to a report of the body just after 8 a.m. in the 3300 block of Cantabrian Dr., where they found the 24-year-old soldier lying face down in the yard of a four-unit apartment building at 3306 Cantabrian, police said.

Because of Sneed’s recent duty in West Africa and because the cause of his death was unknown, precautionary steps were taken, police said.

The City of Killeen’s hazardous materials unit responded, and authorities sealed off the neighborhood where the body was found.

Police units blocked off access to Cantabrian Drive near Ellison High School.

Fort Hood confirmed that the soldier recently returned home on emergency leave and was under self-monitoring guidelines, checking his temperature twice a day and reporting his status to medical officials.

Post spokesman Chris Haug says the soldier returned last week from Liberia, where he helped construct an Ebola treatment camp and wasn't exposed to patients.

Fort Hood said there was no immediate indication of the Ebola virus, but said tests were underway to ensure there is no threat to the community.

Carrie Williams, director of media relations for Texas Department of State Health Services, told CBS News the soldier was in Liberia during deployment.

"We are aware of the situation. Testing will occur. The risk is considered to be very low," Williams said.

Jason McDonald with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told KWTX the department is aware of the Fort Hood soldier’s death.

"We have been in consultation with the Texas Department of State Health Services and the Department of Defense and a test for Ebola is being done," said McDonald.

It was not immediately clear if the neighborhood had been evacuated but Killeen police said they are "taking all precautions."

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Spc. Kendrick Vernell Sneed (Fort Hood photo)