After Sept. 11, 2001, Loren Janeczko returned to active service in the Army.
On Oct. 12, 2001, one short month later, Sgt. Janeczko was killed in a “shoot out” with New Jersey Police. According to media reports, he was supposed to have “flipped out” and started shooting people, wounding two fellow soldiers on the Ft. Dix Army base, fleeing in a vehicle, and then wounding two New Jersey police officers, and taking a hostage before he was shot and killed by police.
According to the richly detailed story presented to the media in a press conference, the hostage got away when Loren’s gun jammed and Loren was then killed by a member of the New Jersey Police.
The Army claimed that there had been a “mental health hearing” the morning of his death, and that “two soldiers were accompanying him to clean out his locker” prior to discharge.
It was a year after his death when the investigation reports, requested in October 2001 through the Federal Freedom of Information Act, were received. The reports are not complete. Much of the information is redacted. One brief report is from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The other, more voluminous in terms of paper, was from the Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID).
In a brief sentence, within the Army CID report, it is revealed that NO HOSTAGE WAS EVER TAKEN. This was confirmed on the telephone by a CID officer. Why would such a story be fabricated and fed to the media? Why has this story never been corrected in the media? The hostage story was not a garbling of events. It was presented in a formal press conference given by the New Jersey State Police spokesperson a day or two after the incident. It was a deliberate dissemination of misinformation.
Both the FBI and CID reports refer to the fact that Loren made an allegation of sexual assault against soldiers in his sleeping quarters four days before he was killed. The reports state that the Department of Defense Police on Ft. Dix were investigating the matter. He was placed in a private room for his own safety and security. He wasn’t being escorted to his locker and there wasn’t any “mental health hearing” the morning of his death. The commander had decided to turn the tables on him, as is frequently done in the Army, and to accuse him of assault. This is how the Armed Services get rid of whistleblowers and people who “make waves” by expecting to be treated with respect.
On October 12, 2001, a commanding officer decided to interrogate him for what was described, by a DOD officer’s statement to the CID, as a prolonged period of time. He was not allowed to make any arguments in his own defense and became increasingly stressed, as he watched the accused soldiers walking freely near the office and speaking to one another.
At this point, according to the report, this commanding officer decided to search his room and locker. He was ordered to lay out his possessions on the bed. Reportedly, rolled up inside a “dirty T-shirt” was a gun and ammunition. Strangely, the ‘statement’ of the DOD Police Officer In Charge (OIC), for that day’s shift, states: “…had been searching Sgt. Janeczko’s wall locker and as he had removed some items, some ammunition had fallen on the table.” Note that the OIC made no mention of a GUN! In fact, Loren possessed no gun at Ft. Dix which used that caliber ammunition.
The commanding officer, by her own statement, corroborated by other statements, said, “Now we’ve got you, buddy! You are going to jail.” She then left Loren in the room with two other soldiers and events proceeded.
When the DOD police were called and asked for a copy of their investigation into the allegation of sexual assault, their first response was that there was no report of any allegation or investigation. After the JAG and Inspector General were contacted, the chief of the DOD Police stated that there was, indeed, an investigation report. He supplied the case number and said that it would be supplied to the family. Two weeks after that conversation, a person in the DOD Police office stated that the report would be delayed because the “legal department” was reviewing the report. A month after the request was made, another fragmentary and incomplete report was received. The summary states that the matter would be handled by the Unit Commander, however, a DOD police officer’s statement claimed that the sexual assault investigation was ongoing at the time of the Commander’s “interrogation”.
The CID report also states that the death investigation was jointly handled with the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice. They house exhibit 16, which includes the total summary of the investigation, all crime scene photos and evidence.
The New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice states that they are not subject to the Freedom of Information Act and that they will not give up any or all of their investigation reports. New Jersey has an Open Records Act and a Government Records Council, which has the power to help people get such information. At present, all requests for investigation reports have been denied and appealed. It seems that in the “opposite speak” so prevalent in America today, the Act is actually a Closed Records Act, designed to protect the police from scrutiny by the public.
The autopsy report supplied by the New Jersey Medical Examiner’s Office contains no forensic information. There is no ballistics information. There is no powder burn analysis, even though it was noted that Loren’s hands were “bagged.” A letter to the ME resulted in a reply that requests for further information have been referred to the NJ Division. of Criminal Justice.
I have now received an unredacted (although still incomplete) Investigation Report from the State of NJ. I also requested and received photographs, audio and video tapes, and other evidence. This required hiring a lawyer and going to the NJ Superior Court Law Division. Common law, in most States, allows the family to have access to such records.
By cross-referencing information contained within the report, I know that other specific documents have been withheld. My next task is to find someone in the government who will listen to reason and will follow the law in regard to access.
This investigation report sheds a new light on the events immediately leading up to my son’s death. I will not publicly reveal these facts here, but the story told to the media by the police and the Army differs wildly from what actually happened.
The Army, in the meantime, insists that they must suspend the re-investigation of the case and a DoD Hotline case, while individual civilian police sue the Army in the US District Court for money damages. Naturally, this makes no sense at all to the family. We have never threatened to sue the Army and we know that, in any case, we are precluded from doing that by the Feres Doctrine.
There will surely be an appeal if the tort case is dismissed, which will prolong the inactivity of the investigations. It is all a well-established method of withholding information. I maintain that there is no valid excuse for suspending and withholding new investigation material from an immediate family trying to understand what happened.
No forensics have been released by any of the three agencies involved. Repeated requests of the FBI have only resulted in FOIA denials so far.
I will press on.
The Department of Defense Hotline Inspector General, in a written report, has acknowledged that the Department of Defense Police on Ft. Dix did not meet their responsibility of investigating a reported sexual assault. They did no investigation at all, instead, turning the matter over to Command, as has been very common in the military services. (This is often the time when soldiers who have reported sexual assault by fellow service members will be punished for doing so.)
I have also obtained the depositions in the Civil Tort. This turned out to contain much valuable information about Loren’s death and the events leading up to it. There are also specific references to additional investigation material, including who possesses it. Some of this material was already requested in the Superior Court and declared “lost.”
The officer who has referred to herself as his Commander, was actually a Major and the Mobilization Commander, and had only met Loren the morning of his death. She set the day in motion and then proceeded to manage the media reporting from Ft. Dix. She also arrived at the scene of Loren’s death and identified his body at the Medical Examiner’s Office, referring to herself the whole time as “his Commander.” Her name appeared in the autopsy report incorrectly, either an inadvertent clerical error or a deliberate attempt to mislead. It was revealed in her testimony that she had previously worked in the NJ Attorney General’s Office and that the lead investigator in the death investigation was someone she referred to as her “buddy.”
There is much more to this story, but the Army is being given an opportunity to do the actual investigation of the events leading up to Loren’s death. It’s been eight years. I wonder how much longer they will take.
I continue to ferret out information and documents, even though certain specific documents and evidence are being withheld without explanation by people who simply have the power to keep our family at bay. I’m hoping that someone from the giant blue wall of silence (police) or the giant green wall of silence (Army) will want to unburden his/her conscience after ten years. I’m not looking to sue, I just want to have the truth come out.
I have serious concerns about the climate of our country in terms of the Media and of the inordinate power of Federal agencies to keep secrets.
The print and electronic media in this country is willing to publish whatever they are told by police without any independent verification. The “facts” published are fed by other unverified “facts” which appear to fit the pattern of whatever scenario has been presented. The media is now an entertainment business, which does not encourage actual investigative reporting with very few exceptions.
As we know from current events, the Federal Government now has usurped the power of the people in the United States. Expectations that public servants must respond to requests for information are ignored and the people have become the servants of the Government.
We can reverse these injustices, but only if each of us makes the personal effort to challenge the government, at any level, and insisting that government honors its responsibility to provide truthful information.
If you have any information about this case, please contact me through this website.