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Ex-girlfriend indicted in soldier's death

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Posted: Thursday, May 21, 2009 12:00 pm | Updated: 8:14 am, Thu Aug 16, 2012.

By Hayley Kappes

Killeen Daily Herald

BELTON – An Austin woman is accused of taking part in the Oct. 11 murder of her ex-boyfriend, Fort Hood Staff Sgt. Ryan Michael Sullivan, in order to obtain money from his life insurance policy.

Kathryn Nellie Briggs, aka Airianna Benitez, 27, remains in Bell County Jail on $750,000 bond on a capital murder charge. An indictment states that Briggs' involvement with the murder stemmed from an attempt to procure Sullivan's $100,000 life insurance policy through the Army, for which Briggs was the beneficiary.

Soldiers Kyle James Moesch, 23, and John Anthony Valdez Jr., 24, were charged on Feb. 12 with the capital murder of Sullivan.

Justice of the Peace Will Flowers in Travis County issued a search warrant May 14 for Briggs' residence in the 2200 block of Keepsake Drive in Austin.

Items listed for procurement included computer hardware and software, business and financial records, cell phones and evidence of communication with Valdez, Moesch and Sullivan.

Briggs was arrested after the search was finished and taken to Bell County Jail.

A Bell County grand jury indicted Briggs last week, but her name and information were withheld at the time.

Autopsy reports showed Sullivan died from repeated stab wounds from an unknown, sharp instrument.

Moesch told police he was staying at Sullivan's home on Oct. 10. He awoke during the night and found Sullivan dead. Valdez was standing near the body wearing a ski mask, according to the affidavit.

Moesch asked Valdez if he killed Sullivan. Valdez kicked Sullivan's limp feet and said, "Yes."

Moesch told police in November that he left Fort Hood and met Valdez on Oct. 11. Moesch said the two men traveled to an unknown Dumpster in Austin and disposed of bloody clothes from the night before.

Sullivan's body was found Oct. 14. Officials from Sullivan's unit contacted police after he failed to report for physical training or formation.

Sullivan returned from his second tour of duty in Iraq December 2007, and moved in with Briggs in the 3400 block of Girard Court in Killeen.

Briggs told police she moved out at the end of July, and moved in with Michael Peterson and Kari Keene at their apartment in Austin. Keene told officers Briggs would constantly talk about Sullivan after they broke up.

Peterson said Briggs stated she was the beneficiary of Sullivan's life insurance policy, which conflicted with a statement Briggs gave police.

Briggs said she only knew about being Sullivan's beneficiary when an Army official told her after Sullivan was killed.

Briggs began receiving proceeds from Sullivan's life insurance on Oct. 31. She had access to Valdez's account with Bank of America. On Oct. 10, less than two days before Sullivan's murder, Briggs had $4.31 in her bank account.

Briggs visited Valdez in jail and deposited a total of $1,198 into his jail account.

Valdez and Briggs exchanged numerous phone calls and text messages during the hours surrounding Sullivan's murder.

Valdez approached Peterson, a sales rep for Verizon Wireless, and requested two cell phones, one in his name and the other for Airianna Benitez.

Valdez called Benitez's number since his imprisonment. Benitez was listed on Valdez's jail visitation log twice, with different spellings both times.

Investigators reported Briggs purchased plane tickets from Austin to Cincinnati with Sullivan's credit card information shortly after his murder.

Calls from Valdez in jail to "Airianna" were traced to Cincinnati the same time Briggs was there.

Numerous calls were made between Valdez and Briggs from Nov. 20 through May 12, while Valdez was in jail. The two discussed gathering funds for Valdez's bond, the need to get Valdez out of jail quickly and claims the police have no hard evidence, the affidavit stated.

As recently as last week, Valdez called "Airianna's" number and spoke with the woman about paying for his bond and the amount of money remaining in the account, according to the affidavit.

During one call, Valdez said, "To settle my curiosity, how much do we have left?"

"70, but it should be more," Briggs said.

Investigators believe "70" refers to $70,000.

Briggs told police she only met Benitez once, and provided a description of her.

Investigators concluded after listening to phone calls between Valdez and Benitez, the voice of Benitez is Briggs disguising her voice.

Contact Hayley Kappes at hayleyk@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7559.

Timeline in the events surrounding Ryan Sullivan's murder

December 2007 – Ryan Sullivan returns from his second tour in Iraq and moves in with girlfriend Kathryn Briggs on Girard Court in Killeen.

July 2008 – Briggs and Sullivan end their relationship; Briggs moves to Austin.

Oct. 11, 2008 – Sullivan is killed in his apartment on Girard Court. Later that day, John Valdez and Kyle Moesch allegedly drive to Austin to dispose of bloody clothes from the incident.

Oct. 31, 2008 – Briggs begins to receive money from Sullivan's life insurance policy.

Nov. 20, 2008 – John Valdez is arrested in connection with Sullivan's murder.

Nov. 20 2008, through May 12, 2009 – Valdez and Briggs exchange numerous phone calls while Valdez is in jail. Conversations include gathering funds for Valdez's bond and that police had no hard evidence against Valdez.

Nov. 22, 2008 – Briggs visits Valdez in jail.

Nov. 29, 2008 – Briggs deposits $478 into Valdez's jail account.

January through February 2009 – Briggs deposits an additional $720 into Valdez's jail account.

Jan. 2, 2009 – Kyle Moesch is arrested, accused of tampering with evidence in connection with Sullivan's slaying.

Feb. 12, 2009 – Valdez and Moesch are indicted by a Bell County grand jury on capital murder charges in Sullivan's case.

May 14, 2009 – Kathryn Briggs' residence is searched, and she is arrested in Austin for her alleged involvement in Sullivan's murder.

Timeline of events

Timeline in the events surrounding Ryan Sullivan's murder:

December 2007 – Ryan Sullivan returns from his second tour in Iraq and moves in with girlfriend Kathryn Briggs on Girard Court in Killeen.

July 2008 – Briggs and Sullivan end their relationship; Briggs moves to Austin.

Oct. 11, 2008 – Sullivan is killed in his apartment on Girard Court. Later that day, John Valdez and Kyle Moesch allegedly drive to Austin to dispose of bloody clothes from the incident.

Oct. 31, 2008 – Briggs begins to receive money from Sullivan's life insurance policy.

Nov. 20, 2008 – John Valdez is arrested in connection with Sullivan's murder.

Nov. 20, 2008, through May 12, 2009 – Valdez and Briggs exchange numerous phone calls while Valdez is in jail. Conversations include gathering funds for Valdez's bond and that police had no hard evidence against Valdez.

Nov. 22, 2008 – Briggs visits Valdez in jail.

Nov. 29, 2008 – Briggs deposits $478 into Valdez's jail account.

January through February 2009 – Briggs deposits an additional $720 into Valdez's jail account.

Jan. 2, 2009 – Kyle Moesch is arrested, accused of tampering with evidence in connection with Sullivan's slaying.

Feb. 12, 2009 – Valdez and Moesch are indicted by a Bell County grand jury on capital murder charges in Sullivan's case.

May 14, 2009 – Kathryn Briggs' residence is searched, and she is arrested in Austin for her alleged involvement in Sullivan's murder.

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