Seven months have passed since 21-year-old Private Richard Halliday disappeared from the Fort Bliss military base in El Paso, Texas, and his family are asking for answers.
“Today is day 214,” Richard’s mother, Patricia Halliday, told Dateline on Monday. “214 days without an answer. 214 days without my son.
Despite more than 500 man-hours spent on search efforts in recent months, officials said they still lack answers to the Army Soldier’s disappearance from Fort Bliss, according to a press conference by the US Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID) in February. .
Private Richard Halliday was last seen on July 23, 2020, leaving his barracks room at Fort Bliss Army Base in El Paso, Texas, according to the CID. He wore gray or turquoise cargo shorts, a gray t-shirt and a charcoal gray zip-up hoodie, with dark gray running shoes with red, yellow and white paint stains.
Richard, who is assigned to D Battery, 1-43rd Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 11th Air Defense
Artillery Brigade, 32nd Army Air Missile Defense Command at Fort Bliss, was initially reported AWOL after he failed to report for duty the next day.
But it wasn’t until day 36, more than a month after Richard was last seen, that his parents Robert and Patricia Halliday learned of his disappearance. Richard’s mother, Patricia, told Dateline that they called Richard’s commanding officer in Fort Bliss to find out why they hadn’t heard from their son.
“We were told that our son was no longer there, that he was a deserter,” Patricia said. “By then it was day 36. So much time had passed. So much time wasted.
On September 1, 2020, the CID’s special agents took charge of the Fort Bliss Emergency Services Branch investigation following the request for assistance. An investigation found that there was no indication of foul play or specific suspicious circumstances surrounding Richard’s disappearance.
During a press conference in February 2021, the commanding officer of Fort Bliss, Major General Sean Bernabe, said that in the months following Richard’s disappearance, members of the Criminal Investigation Division of the ‘army “devoted more than 540 hours to investigating the case, issued 50 subpoenas and five arrest warrants, conducted over 160 interviews and carried out eight local searches.”
Major-General Bernabe also admitted to making mistakes in the early stages of the investigation, including failing to contact the Halliday family when Richard went missing.
“Despite the attempts, we were unable to establish timely initial contact with the Halliday family when we discovered Pvt. Halliday’s disappearance,” Bernabe said. “This failure has caused us to lose the trust of the Halliday family. We are working hard to regain their trust.”
He added that the second mistake was the slow response to get help from the CID to help him with the investigation.
“Our failure prompted us to change the procedures we take here at Fort Bliss when we find out we don’t know where a soldier is,” Bernabe said.
He added that a soldier’s disappearance will now be determined by evidence rather than the mere assumption that he or she has deserted the armed forces.
“Fort Bliss continues to launch a broad appeal for information to the public to help us find Pvt. Richard Halliday,” said Bernabe. “We owe it to every family and every member of the service to search for missing soldiers until that soldier is found.”
Richard’s parents met with officials on Monday, but told Dateline they left more frustrated and unanswered.
“We still don’t know what happened and we still don’t have our son,” Patricia said. “All I know is you can’t just disappear from the barracks without someone knowing.” Anyone knows something and all we want is for them to show up.
Patricia and Robert adopted Richard from Poland when he was only five years old. They were stationed in Germany until Robert retired from the military. But the family continued to live abroad in Germany and Ireland for most of Richard’s life.
“We were homeschooled and he learned to speak German and Korean,” Patricia told Dateline. “And he played the piano and had a black belt in karate… we were all able to travel all over the world and experience so much.”
Being the son and grandson of veterans, Richard was determined to join the military and pay for his college education.
But six months before his disappearance, Richard began to talk about his desire to leave the military and said he had problems with the leadership of the military.
“The first 14 months he did really well,” Patricia said. “But then something happened and it looked different. But he didn’t want to confide in us. We encouraged him to finish.
After Richard disappeared, officials followed several tips and leads, but none led them to Richard. There was no indication of foul play or specific suspicious circumstances surrounding his disappearance after CID officials conducted a thorough forensic search of his barracks.
Authorities also searched the area around Fort Bliss, including sinkholes, water drains, sewage systems, canals, rail tracks (on and off post), homeless shelters shelter and approximately 20 miles of trails in the Franklin Mountain State Park and Indian Peak Trail. Army Aviation Resources also assisted in the search for Franklin Mountain State Park.
“We take this very seriously and a host of other investigative techniques have been used in the search for Pvt. Halliday and we will continue to investigate until we determine what happened to this soldier, ”said Chris Gray, spokesperson for the Army CID. “If anyone has any information, we ask that you introduce yourself and share it with us.”
Richard’s family set up their own hotline (941) 677-0060 and the “Find Richard Halliday” Facebook page in hopes of gathering information that could lead to their son. Patricia goes “live” to the page almost daily with updates on Richard’s case or to advocate for new advice.
“We just want to find our son,” pleaded Patricia. “Any information could be what ultimately leads us to him.”
Richard is described as being 5’9 ” tall and weighing 162 pounds. He has black hair and brown eyes.
Anyone with information on Richard’s whereabouts is urged to call the Fort Bliss CID office at 915-568-1700, Fort Bliss Military Police at 915-744-1237 or submit information in a manner anonymous at https://www.cid.army.mil/ report-a-crime.html. You can also call the “Find Richard Halliday” family hotline at (941) 677-0060.