Investigation and lawsuit
The Army conducted an inquiry into the communications between Katherine Morris and Goodwin’s other woman who was a service member. The brigade judge advocate determined that the woman believed that Goodwin was not married, and that they were in an exclusive relationship. The investigation found no evidence that she caused or contributed to Katherine’s death. But the investigating officer noted that Goodwin admitted his “marriage was a sham and solely for benefits.”
Katherine’s parents, Rev. Marguerite Morris and Willie Morris, were not satisfied with the Army’s investigation. They requested that the Army investigate further, and also sought the support of their congressman.
Another investigation was launched to determine whether Specialist Goodwin committed BAH fraud in marrying Katherine Morris, whether he failed to provide support during the marriage, and whether he committed adultery.
In the meantime, Rev. Marguerite Morris filed a claim in United States District Court against Prudential Financial Inc. Specialist Isaac Goodwin had taken out a $100,000 insurance policy on his wife’s life, and Rev. Morris wanted to block payment. Court documents state:
Morris has reason to believe that Goodwin’s marriage to Katherine was entered into under fraudulent pretenses, namely in order to allow Goodwin to collect a higher Basic Allowance for Housing (“BAH”) from the United States Army. Further, Morris has reason to believe that Goodwin was never faithful to Katherine throughout the duration of the marriage in that he engaged in sexual relations with a person other than Katherine.
The document further states:
Morris also has reason to believe that throughout their marriage, Goodwin was consistently abusive towards Katherine, and has further reason to believe that said abusive behavior directly contributed to Katherine’s suicide.
Sham marriages and BAH fraud
BAH fraud and marriage fraud are ongoing problems in the military. In 2008, PilotOnline.com, based in Virginia, reported a widespread scam discovered by Navy officials. Sailors were marrying foreign nationals so they could earn an extra $1,000 per month.
Last year, the Navy Times reported that Jermar Jones, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Grenada, was sentenced to four years in prison for arranging marriages between sailors and illegal immigrants. The article states:
The Navy is no stranger to sham marriages. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service, which investigated the case along with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, estimates that its investigations into such scams have produced the convictions of more than 100 people about 60 percent of them sailors over the past four years, and uncovered roughly $1.5 million of BAH fraud.
In fact, in October 2010 Navy compensation officials offered training on spotting sham marriages leading to BAH fraud. The training PowerPoint stated, “fraudulent or sham marriages involve either fraudulent marriage documents or contractual/convenience marriages.”
BAH Fraud, according to the Powerpoint, is “knowlingly collecting BAH payments for which a member is not authorized.” An example is “marriage for the sole purpose of collecting BAH, providing spouse with military benefits (medical/dental)/green card (sometimes in exchange for monetary payment).”
The PowerPoint listed the following fraud indicators:
- Spouse not claimed as beneficiary for salary, leave accruals or SGLI benefits (life insurance)
- Spouse not listed in DEERS (medical benefits program)
- Spouse not provided with an ID card
- Records do not reflect a common dwelling
All of the warning signs applied in the Specialist Isaac Goodwin case, at least until January 2012, when his commanders ordered him to support his wife.
Second Army investigation
The second Army investigation was completed on August 3, 2012. Through a Freedom of Information request, Rev. Morris obtained a redacted copy. It showed that Specialist Goodwin applied for a military identification card, and enrolled Katherine in the military’s medical benefits program, on January 9, 2012.
The report included details of Goodwin’s Leave and Earnings Statement (LES)—his payroll and deductions information. In July 2011, Goodwin received $409.41 in BAH. In August 2011, after marrying Katherine Morris, he claimed a dependent and his BAH jumped to $923.72. In September, October, November and December, he received BAH payments of $989.70. In January, the BAH increased again to $1,022.70.
In February 2012, the records show that Goodwin enrolled his wife in the military life insurance program, although Rev. Morris said that Katherine didn’t know about it. He elected $100,000 in coverage on Katherine’s life.
In March and April 2012, the records finally show a discretionary allotment of $600 for his wife.
The investigating officer collected sworn statements from nine military members, ranging in rank from private first class to major. Each person was required to respond to a set of more than 50 questions about Specialist Goodwin’s marriage and relationship with his wife. Most of the answers were “I don’t know.” None of the service members had ever met Katherine Morris, and only a few had any communication with her at all.
One question was, “Do you think SPC Goodwin married for love, entitlements, or increased money?” The answers were:
“I believe love”
“Hope and assume love”
“I think possibly he married for the extra money”
“I assume he married for love. He did seem proud of his wife.”
“I don’t know. I have never seen them together.”
“I think he married for love.”
“I don’ know.”
Conclusion to inquiry
The report notes that Katherine Morris’ mother provided voluminous print-outs of electronic communication. “Because of the large amount of documentation, I have not enclosed all of these communications as exhibits to this report,” the officer wrote. “These documents are available for inspection in my office.”
The report included only three emails:
- Katherine Morris’ communication to an Army sergeant that she’d been paid $440 in January, $250 in February, was still waiting for the remaining $250 for February, and she was supposed to start receiving $600 in March, if Goodwin set up the allotment.
- The email Katherine Morris sent to the five women who she believed Goodwin was cheating with, along with one that the military woman sent to Goodwin accusing him of lying.
- The email exchange between Katherine Morris and the military other woman that preceded their phone conversation.
In the conclusion of the inquiry into Specialist Isaac Goodwin’s alleged BAH fraud and adultery, the investigating officer stated:
a. I find no evidence that SPC Goodwin committed BAH fraud.
b. I find that SPC Goodwin failed to pay support from August 2011 until December 2011. I find that SPC Goodwin did pay support beginning in January 2012, although it is unclear whether he paid the full amounts owed for January and February. I do not find by a preponderance of the evidence that he knowingly violated the captain’s order to pay support because in his order, the captain did not specify for SPC Goodwin the amount of support that he was to pay.
c. I find by a preponderance of the evidence that SPC Goodwin committed adultery by having sexual relations with (redacted—the military other woman) after his marriage to Katherine Morris.
The investigating officer recommended that his report be forwarded to Specialist Goodwin’s chain of command for “consideration and action as the command deems appropriate.”
Specialist Isaac Goodwin was promoted to corporal. And, unless the District Court of Maryland decides otherwise, he stands to gain $100,000 from the death of Katherine Morris.
For more information:
Fort Bragg soldier accused of fraud after wife’s suicide, on WRAL.com.
To help Katherine Morris’ family pay the legal costs of pursuing justice, please visit For Kathy’s Sake.