Report | Nov. 3, 2014

Evaluation of Matters Related to the Death of Navy Seaman Kyle Antonacci

DODIG-2015-007

Objective

This evaluation was initiated in response to a complaint to the Defense Hotline. The complaint questioned the integrity of the investigation into the death of Navy Seaman Kyle Antonacci and specifically alleged the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) and Department of Navy officials conspired to rule the death a suicide. The objective of our evaluation was to determine whether the NCIS conducted three related criminal investigations (rape, perjury, and death) in accordance with NCIS standards and whether any evidence exists to suggest a conspiracy.

Findings

  • The NCIS rape investigation was not conducted in full compliance with NCIS investigative standards and a threat reported by Seaman (SN) Antonacci was not thoroughly investigated when reported. These deficiencies may have impacted the outcome of the rape courtmartial and the initiation of the perjury investigation.
  • The perjury investigation was not conducted in full compliance with NCIS standards, specifically, the NCIS-3, Chapter 14, requirement for NCIS to always escort a confessed military suspect to a responsible command member and brief the results of the interrogation.  Following the February 1, 2010, interrogation, the NCIS case agent stated even though he did not consider SN Antonacci a “confessed military suspect” requiring a release to command officials, he thought he released SN Antonacci to command officials.  He did not document this release, and we could not find any documentation or witness testimony to support his contention. SN Antonacci was found, deceased, in his dormitory room approximately three hours after he departed the NCIS office.
  • The death investigation was not conducted in full compliance with NCIS standards, but the deficiencies did not materially impact the investigation or the overall Armed Forces Medical Examiner’s (AFME) opinion that the manner of death was suicide. Additionally, our review of the death investigation revealed nothing to suggest a conspiracy between NCIS and Department of Navy officials to rule SN Antonacci’s death a suicide.

Recommendations

  • We recommend the Director, NCIS provide enhanced training for supervisors and agents involved in the investigations to ensure proper understanding of NCIS criminal investigative standards and managing investigations and operations in accordance with NCIS-1, Chapter 45, “Managing Investigations and Operations,” NCIS-3, Chapter 30, “Death Investigations,” and NCIS-3, Chapter 34, “Sex Offenses.”
  • We recommend the Director, NCIS reevaluate, clarify, and define the phrase “confessed military suspect” which is not clearly defined in NCIS-3, Chapter 14, “Interviews and Interrogations.” Specifically, NCIS should clarify and define the circumstances in which a person is considered a “confessed military suspect.” We noted the NCIS Supervisory Special Agent and the case agent offered differing interpretations whether SN Antonacci was a “confessed military suspect” , on the day of his death, requiring his escort and release to a responsible command member. The SSA thought he was a “cooperating defendant” and the case agent didn’t consider him “confessed” (a confessed military suspect) since he didn’t confess, he only provided clarifying information supplementing his previous confessions.

Management Comments

Comments from NCIS addressed all specifics of the recommendations, and no further comments are required.