Cory Latrell Grafton, 20, was arrested Tuesday after DNA evidence found on the body of 32-year-old Chelsea Lynell Cheatham was found to match the active-duty soldier at the Texas Army post, Killeen police said Wednesday, ending a yearlong probe into the slaying.
“Through the investigation, detectives with the Homicide Unit received information from a witness that [Grafton] was at the scene at the time [Cheatham] was murdered,” department officials said.
In June 2019, police found Cheatham unconscious at a Days Inn in Killeen after getting a call about a woman who was not responsive. Officers and paramedics started life-saving efforts, but she was pronounced dead about an hour later, police said.
It was unclear at the time whether Cheatham succumbed to natural causes, prompting an investigation into her death. An autopsy later ruled her death a homicide, while authorities have not released the woman’s cause of death.
Grafton remained held in Bell County on $1 million bond Thursday, online records show. It’s unclear if he’s hired an attorney.
Fort Hood officials confirmed to CNN that Grafton is an active-duty soldier currently assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division. Military records list Grafton’s first name as Corey, but he’s identified as Cory in police and jail records, Lt. Col. Chris Brautigam said.
“The unit continues to cooperate with the Killeen Police Department and the Texas Rangers,” Brautigam told CNN.
One of Grafton’s co-workers, meanwhile, told the Texas Department of Public Safety that he confessed to the slaying, the Daily Beast reported.
Grafton was initially identified as a possible suspect via the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative program, which uses advanced DNA testing to crack unsolved cases. The Texas Rangers notified Killeen police about the program in early September, according to the Daily Beast.
The relationship between Grafton and Cheatham was not immediately clear.