New details have emerged in a murder case stemming from an alleged love triangle involving three Fort Stewart soldiers.
In a complaint warrant provided to the Coastal Courier by ABC57 Investigative Reporter Clifton French, new light is shed on what led to the shooting death of Fort Stewart Army Sgt. Tyrone Hassel III on Dec. 31, 2018.
According to the complaint warrant, Officer Jaramee Peppers responded to a report of a shooting on Colfax Ave in St. Joseph Township, in Benton Harbor, Mich., around 11 p.m. New Year’s Eve. When Peppers arrived he found Tyrone Hassel III suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. The report states Tyrone Hassel was shot in the head, neck and torso. Tyrone Hassel was transported to Spectrum Lakeland Hospital where he was later pronounced dead.
During the course of the investigation an anonymous tip was given to Officer Eric Wolff of the St. Joseph Police Department. The tip urged investigators to scrutinize the victim’s wife, claiming she was having an extra-marital relationship with another soldier in her platoon. Meanwhile, Fort Stewart Criminal Investigators were interviewing friends of murder suspect and Fort Stewart soldier Jeremy Cuellar. One of the friends, also an active duty soldier, told CID that Cuellar and Kemia Hassel had begun a romantic affair while they were serving at Camp Casey in South Korea during the 3rd Infantry Division, 1st Combat Brigade deployment last year. The CID agent reported the information to authorities in St. Joseph Township Police Department, that Cuellar had confessed to the soldier friend that he had killed Sgt. Tyrone Hassel in Benton Harbor, Mich. The report also alleges that after Cuellar had shot Tyrone Hassel in the head, Cuellar observed that Hassel was still breathing and shot Hassel again to confirm the kill.
Cuellar is also alleged to have told another soldier that he and Kemia Hassel wanted to be together and were planning to murder Tyrone Hassel while he was on leave. Cuellar is alleged to have told the soldier that he was going to shoot Tyrone Hassel or hire someone else to do it. When this soldier heard of the death of Tyrone Hassel he went to CID and told agents when he heard the news he believed Cuellar was either behind the murder or had planned the crime.
Armed with the leads they had received, St. Joseph Township Police Detectives brought Kemia Hassel in for questioning and asked her if she would consent to a polygraph – which according to the report stated Kemia Hassel was not being truthful concerning Tyrone Hassel’s death. The report alleges Kemia Hassel told investigators she and Cuellar had planned the murder. Kemia Hassel reportedly said the murder plot had been planned using Snapchat. During the police interview Kemia Hassel allegedly said Cuellar had made four different trips to Benton Harbor, Mich., while she and Tyrone Hassel were there visiting from Dec. 19 -31, until the day of the shooting. The report alleges Kemia Hassel and Cuellar had met on each occasion to plot the murder.
According to the warrant, Kemia Hassel told investigators that on New Year’s Eve, her husband went to a local Walmart to purchase ammunition to use in celebration at midnight. Reportedly, while Tyrone Hassel was purchasing the ammunition, Kemia Hassel thought Cuellar was outside the residence and was going to kill her husband at that time. When the murder didn’t then occur, Kemia is alleged to have asked Cuellar why he didn’t commit the crime. Allegedly, Cuellar responded that he had someone with him and didn’t want to commit the murder at that time. Kemia Hassel allegedly told investigators that Cuellar didn’t seem to want to carry out the murder. According to the warrant, she allegedly demanded Cuellar kill her husband that night because she and Tyrone Hassel were planning to leave Benton Harbor to return to Georgia on Jan. 2, 2019, and she didn’t want to return with her husband.
Later that night, Tyrone Hassel had attended a nearby family gathering. When he called Kemia Hassel, she allegedly asked him to bring a plate of food for her and their 1-year old son Tyrone Hassel IV. While Tyrone Hassel was on his way with the food, Kemia Hassel allegedly contacted Cuellar to tell him her husband was heading back to the house. According to the police report, Cuellar allegedly returned to the residence and killed Tyrone Hassel on the driveway of his father’s home. Kemia Hassel reportedly told authorities she did not go outside immediately after hearing the gunshots and did not see Cuellar during the time he allegedly was there.
According to the report, Cuellar’s 2018 Chevrolet Impala was recorded on a patrol unit’s license plate reader in Benton Harbor three hours before the shooting.
In a Courier interview following Cuellar’s extradition hearing at the Liberty County Jail Tuesday, Maj. David Edwards with the Liberty County Sheriffs Officer said Cuellar was arrested without incident at about 10 p.m. Jan. 11, at his home on Robin Hood Drive in Hinesville. Cuellar is in the Liberty County Jail awaiting extradition to Michigan.
Tyrone Hassel’s father, Tyrone Hassel Jr., was interviewed by the Courier in Hinesville on Thursday. The victim’s father was visiting the local area this week. The elder Hassel said Kemia Hassel never gave any indication there was trouble in the marriage with his son. He said his daughter-in-law appeared to have been grief stricken following the murder. Tyrone Hassel Jr. said he now wonders if she was crying because of guilt. Kemia Hassel did not attend her husband’s funeral. Tyrone Hassel Jr. said, when he was home in Michigan, he was asked to bring Kemia to the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office on Jan. 11, where she was arrested and charged with the murder of his son.
A video of the Courier’s interview with the victim’s father will be posted to the Courier website next week.