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Fort Hood soldier facing murder charge in 2019 death of woman found at hotel

Cory Grafton was arrested after a DNA test and statement from a co-worker who said he had confessed, officials said.
Image: Fort Hood
Fort Hood main gate welcome sign in 2013, in Fort Hood, Texas. Tony Gutierrez / AP

A Fort Hood soldier has been arrested in the death of a woman at a Texas hotel last year, authorities said Wednesday.

Cory Grafton, 20, an active-duty soldier assigned to the Texas base, was arrested Tuesday and is facing a murder charge in the death of Chelsea Lynell Cheatham, a 32-year-old who was found not breathing at a Days Inn in June 2019, officials said. Her death has later ruled a homicide.

A witness put Grafton at the scene, Killeen police said Wednesday.

The Texas Rangers, which received a grant for DNA testing last year, approached police with the possibility of using the testing in the year-old case, the Texas Department of Public Safety said.

Police had also gotten a statement from one of Grafton's co-workers who said he had confessed to the killing, the department of public safety said.

Grafton was being held in lieu of $1 million bail Wednesday night, according to online jail records. It was not clear if he had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.

A motive was not disclosed in the police statements, and the relationship between Grafton and Cheatham was not clear.

A request for comment from a spokesperson for Killeen police was not immediately returned Wednesday night.

Lt. Col. Chris Brautigam, a spokesperson for the 1st Cavalry Division, confirmed that Grafton is a soldier assigned to the division at Fort Hood. The unit is cooperating with police and the Texas Rangers, Brautigam said.

Killeen is a city of around 151,000 next to Fort Hood, which is about 60 miles north of Austin.

CORRECTION (Nov. 5 12:56 a.m. ET): A previous version of this article misstated when Chelsea Lynell Cheatham died. It was June 2019, not July 2019.