Michael Wagnon was born around 1981. In 2003 he joined the United States Army and in 2010 he was serving as a Specialist in B Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, 5th Stryker Brigade, operating near Kandahar in Southern Afghanistan during 2009 and 2010 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Between the months of January and May 2010, Wagnon’s unit was involved in the killing of three unarmed Afghan men. Army investigators allege that Wagnon and four other soldiers took a lead role in conspiring to kill Afghan civilians and then cover it up, justifying the shootings by making it appear as though the civilians were enemy combatants. Seven additional US soldiers were alleged to have taken part in a conspiracy to cover up the killings and for their involvement of lesser but related crimes. Wagnon himself is alleged to have shot and killed one of the victims with a rifle.
In addition to the killings, Wagnon and several other soldiers in his unit are alleged to have taken pictures with the Afghan’s corpses and subsequently mutilated the bodies,. Wagnon is alleged to have kept a skull or skull fragments from one of the corpses. Wagnon is additionally alleged to have later tried to get another soldier to erase evidence of the killings from a computer hard drive.
On 15 June 2010, federal prosecutors charged Wagnon with one count of premeditated murder in connection with the premeditated killing of three Afghanis in early 2010. Wagnon is currently being held in federal custody and awaiting court-martial before the Joint Base Lewis-McChord military tribunal near Seattle, Washington.