48 Hours on ID: NCIS investigates the senseless murder of marine corporal Justin Huff. He was abducted from a naval base in Virginia and then driven to North Carolina, where his throat was slashed.
On January 2, 2006, the NCIS offices received a phone call to say that Marine Justin Huff had not shown up for rollcall. His family, friends, and comrades all immediately impressed how it was not in Huff’s nature to go awol. A search was launched almost immediately.
It would later transpire that he had been murdered by Petty Officer 3rd Class Cooper Jackson, a man that Huff had zero connection with, and had never even met.
Jackson had recently embarked on an affair with a woman called Samantha. The pair had never met in person but spoke regularly by telephone, up to 50 times a day. Their relationship included having phone sex.
However, there was a problem. Samantha was a made-up name; her real name was Ashley Elrod, and she had been telephoning military men and lying to them for years.
Elrod was very adept at creating false identities for herself. She described herself to him as wealthy, attractive, slender, and blond and sent him photos, some topless. Except the images were fake; she’d found them on the internet.
Cooper Jackson thought Huff had raped his girlfriend
The relationship turned deadly when Elrod further lied to Jackson that she had been raped by another military man. She told him the rapist and been called Huff or Huffman, and she gave a vague description.
Jackson decided to perform some vigilante justice and set about hunting down the fictional rapist. He concluded that Marine Corporal Justin Huff had been the rapist.
Jackson went to the Dam Neck naval base in Virginia and posing as an NCIS agent he kidnapped Huff and drove him in handcuffs to North Carolina. During the drive, Huff managed to persuade Jackson that he hadn’t raped Samantha, but he still killed him.
He slit Huff’s throat, poured gasoline on him, set him on fire, and they buried him in a field. He later explained that he thought he had to kill him as he was already in a lot of trouble.
In October 2006, Jackson pleaded guilty Monday to premeditated murder, kidnapping, impersonating an NCIS agent, and obstruction of justice.
More from 48 Hours on ID: NCIS
Follow the links to read about more vicious crimes profiled on 48 Hours.
48 Hours previously profiled the murders of two Navy dependents, 10-year-old Tammy Welch was raped and murdered by a neighbor while her father was deployed at sea. And the son of a Navy man Ricky Wiltrout was out drinking with his so-called friends when they put a bullet in his head.
Pamela Hartley slowly fed her husband, Navy Lt. Lee Hartley, arsenic poisoning over a period of months. Doctors were unable to comprehend why Hartley was sick, and he eventually died in agonizing pain. His wife later explained that she wanted out of the marriage but didn’t want to give up her status as a Navy wife.
48 Hours on ID: NCIS airs at 9/8c on Investigation Discovery.