lavena_sidebar_left-1.thumbnail.jpgThe Jamie Leigh Jones-Halliburton rape case was horrific, but what happened to PFC Lavena Johnson in Iraq in 2005 was many orders of magnitudes worse.

The parents of the young Missouri woman were told that she died of self-inflicted gunshot wounds, and her death was ruled a suicide. But her physician father became suspicious after looking at injuries to the body:

After two years of requesting documents, one set of papers provided by the Army included a xerox copy of a CD. Wondering why the xerox copy was in the documents, Dr. Johnson requested the CD itself. With help from his local Congressional representative, the US Army finally complied. When Dr. Johnson viewed the CD, he was shocked to see photographs taken by Army investigators of his daughter’s body as it lay where her body had been found, as well as other photographs of her disrobed body taken during the investigation.

The photographs revealed that Lavena, a small woman, barely 5 feet tall and weighing less than 100 pounds, had been struck in the face with a blunt instrument, perhaps a weapon stock. Her nose was broken and her teeth knocked backwards. One elbow was distended. The back of her clothes had debris on them indicating she had been dragged from one location to another. The photographs of her disrobed body showed bruises, scratch marks and teeth imprints on the upper part of her body. The right side of her back as well as her right hand had been burned apparently from a flammable liquid poured on her and then lighted. The photographs of her genital area revealed massive bruising and lacerations. A corrosive liquid had been poured into her genital area, probably to destroy DNA evidence of sexual assault.

Despite the bruises, scratches, teeth imprints and burns on her body, Lavena was found completely dressed in the burning tent. There was a blood trail from outside a contractor’s tent to inside the tent. She apparently had been dressed after the attack and her attacker placed her body into the tent and set it on fire.

The Electronic Village has been working hard to draw attention to this tragedy. Color of Change has now joined the battle and is asking people to contact Henry Waxman and ask him to conduct hearings as chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Amy Goodman had an interview with Lavena’s parents you can listen to here. Just heartbreaking.