JBLM Lt. Col. Robert E. Underwood Arrested for Threatening to Hire a Hit on His Estranged Wife and His Boss


Lt. Col. Robert E. Underwood

I don’t have a Ph.D. in Psychology, but I’m fairly certain the medical brass at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) in Tacoma, WA couldn’t or wouldn’t recognize PTSD if it bit them in the butt.  Lt. Col. Robert E. Underwood was ordered to undergo an involuntary psychological exam after he allegedly claimed to have hired a hit man to kill his estranged wife Kara Underwood and his commanding officer Lt. Col. Shawn Reed.  He also allegedly threatened to blow up the State Capitol building in Olympia.

Does He Have PTSD?

According to court documents, Lt. Col Underwood witnessed his mother kill two of his siblings.  She shot him eight times and left him for dead.  He recently served a tour of duty in Afghanistan and was deployed to Iraq multiple times.  KOMO (Seattle’s ABC affliate) reported that the DuPont police said he was “ready to snap:”

He is going absolutely going [sic] completely broke.  He’s about to lose part of his pension and possibly custody of his children.  He complains bitterly that the court isn’t seeing things correctly and is favoring [his wife] and doing him wrong.

This doesn’t add up to PTSD according to the military.  Why?  He “claims to have no issues.”

Why We Should Be Nice to Our Ex’s New Girlfriend

Serena Kiptoo, Lt. Col. Underwood’s girlfriend, seems to think he has some issues.  She reported to police and Mrs. Underwood that he claimed to have paid a hit man $150,000 and that she saw nude photos of the couple’s teenage daughter on his laptop along with pornographic photos of children from his last deployment.  He claimed to have parked funds in foreign bank accounts to pay for the hit.

A PAS Father?

CNN reported that Pierce County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Lori Kooiman said in court documents that the couple was going through a “nasty” divorce including custody and money issues and that:

The defendant recently had one of their daughters spend the night and he told her that he was going to do something crazy and it would be on the news, the world would know about it and he was going to resign his commission. . .

[Ms. Kiptoo] also borrowed the defendant’s laptop and found that he [had] a picture of his teenage daughter, naked while sleeping in bed. She also found that he had searched the Internet for how to get teenagers drunk and have sex with them. She confronted the defendant about what she found and he told her that her head was on the chopping block. . .the defendant has nothing to lose, he has an arsenal of weapons.

The Tacoma News Tribune reported that he ranted about the court proceedings on Facebook, he allegedly sent his wife threatening e-mail messages and broke into her home, and police discovered he had hired six attorneys.  Further, Mrs. Underwood had called her husband’s commander to ask him to intervene.  It sounds as if Lt. Col. Reed only took the threats to the State Capitol seriously.

JBLM Is the “Most Troubled Base in the Military”

Sadly, these stories are common at JBLM.  It was home to D.C. Sniper John Allen Muhammad.  In 2010, JBLM soliders were convicted of the “thrill killings” of Afghan civilians.  Last April, JBLM medic David F. Stewart shot himself, his son, and his son’s mother.  That same weekend, the SWAT team was called in after another JBLM soldier shot at his wife and held their daughter hostage.  This week, a JBLM staff sargeant allegedly “massacred” 16 Afghan civilians.

Update:  KIRO (Seattle’s CBS affliate) identified the soldier as Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales.

MSNBC reported last night:

The Army is investigating whether doctors at Lewis-McChord’s Madigan Army Medical Center were urged to consider the cost of providing benefits when reviewing diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorder.

KIRO (Seattle’s CBS affiliate) reported that Lt. Col. Underwood has been charged with three counts of felony harassment and is being held on $250,000 bail.  I’m happy to report that the criminal “justice” system in Pierce County, WA finally recognized that a DV perpretrator was probably armed and dangerous before he killed somebody.  Now, we’ll see if a guy who allegedly has $150,000 in an off-shore bank account will get out on bail.  I remain concerned that he may not have been apprehended but for the threats to the State Capitol:

Underwood was arrested at Lewis-McChord on Monday night after detectives were alerted about his threat to blow up the Capitol Building.  When they began investigating, they learned of his other threats and took him into custody immediately.

Update:  Q13 Fox reported that Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said:

I do think that it’s important that we hold people accountable, but I also think it’s important that we intervene in situations before criminal behavior or mental health issues escalate.

I have waited so long for Mr. Lindquist to wake the hell up that I’m in shock.  I pray the trend continues.

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5 responses to “JBLM Lt. Col. Robert E. Underwood Arrested for Threatening to Hire a Hit on His Estranged Wife and His Boss

  1. PTSD=CRAZY! The military should quit hiding and protecting these criminals behind a military title.

  2. Everybody should realize that in addition to this LTC facing the pressures of war that he now faces giving up over 50% of his retirement pay for the rest of his or his wife’s life due to the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act that was signed into law by President Reagan in 1992. Because of this law a State Court Judge can automatically take this soliders pay no matter the cirumstances of the divorce and even if the ex-wife remarries. This insidious law is a marriage breaker. Go to http://WWW.ULSG.ORG for more information.

  3. I have endured months of cyberbullying, diatribes, and harangues by Lt. Col. Underwood’s family because they don’t like what the Pierce Country Prosecutor said in his charging documents.

    I am not doing a follow-up story.

  4. Ms Drake, The underwood family didn’t like what the Pierce County Prosecutor said becasue he was wrong. This story isn’t over yet and you are not following it now becaue it doesn’t support your first wrong report. You were wrong and you need to admitted. I will be willing to talk with you anytime about this. Robert Underwood

  5. Lt. Col. Underwood,

    Wow! Excuse me? Your sense of entitlement to a follow-up story confirms my instincts.

    After I posted this response, I got yet another harassing comment from the Underwood family demanding a follow-up post. So, I’m closing the comment section on this post.

    Anne Caroline Drake

Comments are closed.