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Affidavit: Fort Hood soldier admitted to sergeant that he strangled woman to death in Killeen hotel

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Posted at 2:06 PM, Nov 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-10 15:20:17-05

KILLEEN, TX — A Fort Hood soldier admitted to his sergeant after a near overdose that he killed a woman in a Killeen hotel in 2019, according to an arrest affidavit.

On June 3, 2019, the Killeen Police Department responded to the Days Inn Hotel in Killeen, where they located the victim, 32-year-old Chelsea Cheatham. KPD detectives determined an unknown person murdered Cheatham.

Fort Hood soldier Cory Grafton, 20, was eventually arrested for murder on Nov. 3, 2020 with assistance from the Texas Rangers after a DNA test matched him to the scene where Cheatham was found dead.

According to the arrest affidavit, an autopsy determined Cheatham's cause of death as strangulation.

A friend of the victim told police he saw a man walking toward Cheatham's room and later leaving the area.

Police said they found multiple cellphones in the room and later determined a message sent to one of those phones came from Grafton.

He asked to meet with Chelsea and she gave him her address at the Days Inn.

Investigators interviewed the Fort Hood soldier on October 20, 2020 where he admitted to a sexual encounter with Cheatham but stated it was on a date before June 3. He then asked to leave and was eventually allowed to return to barracks.

On the night of Oct. 20, 2020, Grafton spoke to his sergeant and denied being involved in the death, according to the affidavit.

On Oct. 21, Grafton was admitted to the hospital after an apparent near overdose on pain relievers and alcohol.

While at the hospital, the soldier called the sergeant and the sergeant asked why he overdosed, to which Grafton replied with "I did it," the affidavit states.

The sergeant responded by saying "Yeah, yeah, I know you tried to commit suicide." Grafton again said "No. No I did it."

The sergeant then asked, "you committed the murder?" to which Grafton said "yes."

Grafton said he was hanging out with Cheatham when they exchanged words and "that at some point in time, his hands were around her throat."

Killeen Police and Texas Rangers identified Grafton as a suspect with the help of the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative program, which uses advanced DNA testing.

He is being held at the Bell County Jail on a $1 million bond.