An outspoken Marine is found murdered.

David Cox

David Cox

CASE DETAILS

Audiences lined up to see Jack Nicholson and Tom Cruise in the hit movie, “A Few Good Men”.  But not many were aware that it was based on a true story, one that may have led to the murder of a courageous former Marine.

Skeleton was discovered 5 miles away

David Cox joined the Marine Corps straight out of high school and was stationed at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  One day, while on duty, David became aware of a problem.  Another platoon member, PFC William Alvarado, had written to his senator complaining about Marine misconduct.

David’s former squad leader, Christopher Valdez, explains how Alvarado was targeted for a “Code Red,” or hazing:

“We didn’t actually decide to have a Code Red for Alvarado on our own. Our platoon commander had given us an implied order that if we were good Marines, something should happen. Saturday night we went into Alvarado’s room. We blindfolded him and gagged him and then dragged him off of his bed. Dave (Cox) started shaving his head, and within five minutes, he had stopped struggling.”

Theory: murder

David Cox convinced his platoon to stop the hazing. When they removed the gag and untied Alvarado, he was unconsciousness.

Alvarado was rushed to the hospital. He recovered, but his 10 attackers, including David Cox, were brought up on charges.  Cox was going to be charged with attempted murder. But he said he was just following orders.

Don Marcari was appointed to defend David Cox:

“I told David, that this was a defense – obedience to orders – that had not been successful at Nuremberg, had not been successful for Lt. Calley at My Lai. And plus, we had a colonel denying he ever gave an order.”

David claimed the Code Red started with implied orders from his superior officers.
For Don Marcari, that meant an even more uphill battle loomed:

“We had the additional burden of now saying he was following an implied order. And it was a very difficult case to win, and I told David that. He decided he wanted to fight it because he believed in his heart that he didn’t do anything wrong. “

At his trial, David was convicted of simple assault.  He was sentenced to time already served in the brig.  He then completed his duty and received an honorable discharge.  He returned to civilian life in his hometown near Boston.

Years later, “A Few Good Men” was released.  David felt that the filmmakers had stolen his story.  David Cox’s girlfriend, Elaine Tinsley, recalls at the time:

“He was stunned.  Here was this movie company that was making tons of money off of his story, and if it weren’t for him, the story never would have existed in the first place.”

David and some of the other Marines involved in the Code Red, sued the movie production company.  While they waited for a ruling, David spoke out about his case on radio talk shows.

By January 1994, David was living with Elaine and hoping his temporary job with UPS would become permanent.  The night before he was supposed to get the good news, David’s back was giving him trouble, so he spent the night on the couch.  The next morning, Elaine left at about 8:30, and then called home at about noon.  David didn’t answer, but there was a message for him on the machine: UPS wanted to hire him. Elaine was happy David would be getting his wish:

“I was like, cool, Dave’s gonna get this job and he’s gonna be so excited. Then I called back again at 1:00 to check the messages, and that message was still there, and the UPS guy had called again, too.”

At 5:30 pm, Elaine returned home:

“When I came into the house that night after work, I realized right away that the doors to all the rooms were open, and our rabbit, who we usually just kept in the kitchen, was hopping all over the place.”

David’s truck was still in the driveway, with the keys in the ignition.  His un-cashed paycheck was on the dashboard and his 9-millimeter gun was in the glove box.  But David was gone.  Elaine didn’t know what to make of the situation:

“As the days went on and there was no news from him– we checked his bank account.  There was no activity on his bank account.  You start to believe that, you know, maybe something did happen, but why?”

The answer came with the spring thaw.  The body of David Cox was discovered on the banks of a river in Medfield, Massachusetts, about five miles from his apartment.

Sgt. Kevin Shea of Massachusetts State Police, describes the manner of death:

“He was shot, according to the ME, four times– once at the base of the rear of the neck and three times in the left side torso area.”

It was clear that robbery was not the motive.  David’s cash and his credit cards were still in his wallet.  And police ruled out a random attack.

Sgt. Shea believes David left home with someone he knew:

“It’s our belief that he got in the car willingly, that he knew who was coming to pick him up, and that he went to this area and walked into the woods with this person.  I think that if it was somebody that was just holding a gun on him or something like that, that they would do it within the first 30 or 40 yards into the woods. David was found almost three-quarters-to-a-mile walk into the woods.”

David’s attorney, Donald Marcari, thinks the murder was somehow related to the military:

“I don’t know why David was killed. I personally believe it had something to do with the military. He was taken out of his house without signs of struggle, he was wearing his Marine Corps jacket, which he never wore. He was found between two hunting ranges where gunshots would not be unusual, and he was murdered execution style.”

But what was the motive?

After the release of “A Few Good Men,” David gave an interview on the radio. He was quite vocal about his story and the U.S. activities in Cuba.  David’s mother worried that he had been too outspoken:

“After I heard that interview on the radio, I spoke to him, and I said, ‘I don’t like what you’re doing. I think what you’re doing is dangerous’ I think he felt far too free to just speak his mind.”

David’s brother, Steve, had a different theory suggesting another possible scenario.  He thought that perhaps the murder was connected to David’s job at UPS:

“A couple of months before Dave disappeared, he’d mentioned to me that he had come upon a supervisor and one of the drivers involved in some type of activity, what he believed to be was theft.”

According to Sgt. Kevin Shea, nothing has been ruled out and the investigation is still open:

“It’ll remain open until we solve it. Again, we’ll follow any leads that come through vigorously, and do that until it is solved.”


Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season eight with Robert Stack and in season one with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.

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29 Comments

  1. Mike

    There is a podcast that is covering this case in depth and they talk to most of the people that were talked to in this episode. It’s called Cold Traces and this murder is being covered in the second season. A lot more detail about what happened in Gitmo and in his murder.

    Reply

  2. Margo King

    Mr. Cox was having back spasms and elected to stay home. He has a pet rabbit he cares for and took it out of the cage. Uncashed paycheck on the table, all doors to all rooms opened. Truck and truck keys still on property but no David Cox. He puts on a article of clothing he never wears and gets into a car willingly? and is driven to the woods escorted into the woods where he shot 4 time This is a kidnapping and murder by someone he was familiar with and probably the former Marines who were convicted of the Alvarado murder. Pretty sure they are released by now. I doubt UPS had any issues with him.

    Reply

  3. Anonymous

    Hi Elain,
    I worked with Dave. back then at fiberclean or new england..please if there is anything i can do I cant believe its been 20 something yrs..mp1021@yahoo.com

    Reply

  4. Anonymous

    As I remember it, it wasn’t Cox that was the primary assailant that initiated and or was the one responsible for stopping the assault, to the credit of the ten, they are the ones that called the ambulance. Knowing the marines that were involved, I don’t think there was any intent to kill are seriously hurt Pfc Alvarado, just to try to get him to be a productive member of the plt. The plt. Meeting held by the platoon commander was the results of numerous letters written by PFC Alvarado to his congressman, state senators and I believe even the President of the United States with accusations of illegal fence line shootings, abusive behavior towards him and various other accusations, in short he wanted off of GTMO and out of the Corps. Col. Adams was not relieved solely for Alvarado incident, but due to an investigation of other accusations.

    Reply

    • Anni Moss

      Thank you for straightening out some of the details. This was a bad situation gone worse. The lives affected in this incident are changed forever. I feel bad for the victim in this case but also for the Marines who were dedicated to the CORP and would have given thier lives for you, me and thier country that are now either deceased or not living the life they would have chosen. Thier choice to follow protocol with the CORP turned out to be a punishment for them and thier families. Again, Thank you.

      Reply

  5. Doug Masters

    He gets hired to the job where he turned in someone for theft and is killed the same day. He never wore his military jacket yet he did so that day. If I had a beef with someone and wanted to make it look as if someone else did it. There ya go. Perfect since he was outspoken against the military at the time.

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  6. Terry

    Yes the most quite case I’ve ever heard

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  7. Gina

    I absolutely agree with commenter S. I believe it may have been associated with his service. There is little to no information regarding this case. I guess it would be breaching National Security. The jacket is a very loud clue. Those jackets aren’t that warm. He never wore it after service. I kept mine in my closet for a few years. Wasn’t one l reached for. However, if l was being led to my murder. I would grab it. Bc, my killers were associated w the Military. There was a foot of snow on the ground. Found wearing gym shoes. His killers wanted him to be identified that’s why his wallet was still in his possession. They were already in a remote location, why not set him on fire? He resigned to his fate. It had to have been two or more individuals. He was a combat trained Marine. Plus, regardless if your back hurts, its not broke. He would have fought back, for his life. His family however thinks it was the individual he turned in for stealing. If that was the case, hometown media would’ve jumped on the story. He remains unnamed. This is one of the quietest cases I’ve known. So either a family member did it or it was associated with his prior service.

    Reply

  8. Anonymous

    I believe that it had to have something to do with the military considering that he was shot execution style. Hollywood wouldn’t go after him for being outspoken about his story. It’s a shame that such a young marine was killed at home. My dad served in the marine corps. Taking all things into consideration him wearing his USMC jacket, being found so far into the woods, and that he had all of his personal belongings still when he was found sounds very fishy to me. Just my opinion. I hope that one day they can find out who killed this poor marine. I hope he will someday be able to rest in peace.

    Reply

  9. Chuck

    Has anyone thought that the murder might even been from someone of the cast or producers of the movie (A few good men)? Remember that David was in the process of suing the movie producers for millions. Think about it. Perhaps they should become suspects as well. Look into it.

    Reply

  10. mike

    is dave gunner around??? or the girl who lived on cherry st in malden?? If so get ahold of me…mp1021@yahoo.com.. we worked with dave. he was a great kid he took me to my first patriots game lol..

    Reply

  11. sherbi

    I was his roommate he didn’t die it was to teach him a lesson. It simply went to far. Cox was a good friend of mine and a great person.

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  12. Ron

    I worked with David at the Vista Hotel in Waltham, Mass. He was a good guy.

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  13. S

    Killed execution style. Lead into the woods. Obviously followed the killer(s) into the woods because he knew them. I doubt a military man would simply obey walking into the woods with strangers like his UPS colleagues. Perhaps he knew what was coming and put on his military jacket as a symbol to leave his finders and investigators a clue of where to start looking.

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  14. Eric W Bohannon

    He was X out due to his knowledge about us policy.

    Reply

  15. Johnny

    Cox seemed to be an outspoken type guy. That can be good or bad. In this case, David was pretty vocal on military things such as US activities in Cuba. No doubt he was eliminated or silenced. He knew this person a former Officer or SGT perhaps. With his bad back, it had to be someone he trusted to leave. Probably had to take pain meds for his back or an ice/heat application device. Cox walked into the woods to his death. A sad end to a bright future.

    Reply

  16. john mack

    yeh who knows what happened but with all the .milliatary closed cases. It had to be government. They like events like this to stay closed

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    • It was Jew Hollywood

      My opinion is I don’t think it was the military at all. He was going after Hollywood. When money is involved or future case of suing and possibly winning involved it brings out the corrupt thieves in tinsel town. And they will do anything to keep their money. Even murder. Case solved.

      Reply

  17. Johnny

    The David Cox case was a real mystery. No doubt David Cox was targeted as this was a personal crime. The killer would have time in this remote location to take money, valuables, ID but Cox still had his credit cards and wallet. This suggests the perpetrator was making a point and was a skilled offender. Cox voicing his opinions on the military and his UPS concerns could be several suspects. I think this may be a crime that never gets solved. A shame David Cox was so young. Probably a real bright future.

    Reply

  18. consider Scientology

    If he was suing for compensation from the movie A Few Good Men than he was trying to get money from scientology they get a piece from all their movie star members projects and they do not let anyone get the money they have they are more like a criminal organization than a church

    Reply

  19. Will

    Where is the truth that I posted?

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  20. Will

    Cox didn’t stop the hazing. Cpl. Lewis did. He broke into the window. Alvarado was dead in the room. Humans can’t ingest bleach and live. The Col and Sgt Maj were relieved and sent to LeJeune. Col. Jones took over. Boswell was portrayed as the idiot in the movie. I was in boot camp with him. We were in the room next to were it happened. When cpl lewis broke the window they ran like cowards. Alvarado was writing letters about the discrimination on the hill, to his Senator in Texas (where the Col was from). Viewing the room after Lewis broke the window, there was an empty bottle of bleach laying on the floor. He was still duct taped. Cox is a liar. And I don’t remember him. I was a cook and knew most people on Gitmo. His story doesn’t match the facts.Cpl Lewis was a cook and a big black guy. Not a puny white guy. Boswell and another went to prison for Alvarado’s death. How is he alive?

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  21. Why Military

    I doubt it was the military. What could he have known about the Marines that he did not already tell the public about? I bet it was connected to his UPS job. Military black-bag executions and then leaving the body like that; doesn’t add up to me. Anyone who has seen an action movie can learn to kill “execution style”

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  22. Rebecca

    He was killed execution style It sounds like the military had a hand in his murder, he was outspoken they silenced him, they feared he would exposed their corruption and conspiracy that took place in the military. So sad it seem this case will not be solved, no closure for this family. Rest in peace David

    Reply

    • Johnny

      Some good points Rebecca. David was wearing his military jacket. It might of been a military friend from an old unit or a superior he trusted. It must have been important because he had the back injury. Don’t think this will be solved with the military and the possible UPS involvement. Could be dozens of suspects.

      Reply

    • Morgan

      Absolutely Rebecca I believe the same exact thing and so do other ppl in and out the military no one go into the wood’s with a stranger..A military gear on no way..vry sad story..

      Reply

    • pvt.donald l.douglas

      conspiracy that’s place in the military ,alls true because I kill a man a order and I told to kept my mouth shut about it

      Reply