Sun, Jul 06, 2003
UK Police Say It Was sabotage
Who handled Stephen Hilder's
parachute just before his last, fatal jump? That question haunts
police and defense investigators in the United Kingdom, as they
investigate the 20-year old Defense Academy cadet's murder at an
annual parachuting competition Friday.
Hilder was a veteran skydiver, with more than 200
jumps under his belt. He was also a member of the Army Parachute
Association, one of the oldest skydiving clubs in the world. So,
when young Hilder hit the ground at something close to terminal
velocity, investigators in Shrivenham, near Swindon, Wiltshire,
Leading the investigation, Detective Superintendent Colin
Andrews with the Humberside Police Department, described Hilder's
death as "horrendous."
"The parachute equipment had been tampered with before he
jumped. This is extremely unusual," he told the London
Timeline To Murder
Hilder, who was described by
friends as "extremely safety-conscious," checked his rig Wednesday
night. He stored it in good working condition. But police say
sometime between Wednesday and Friday's fatal jump, the parachute
rig was sabotaged. So far, investigators have questioned more than
70 people, according to the Independent. They still want to talk
with anyone who was on the airfield at Hibaldstow near Brigg,
Humberside, during that two-day period.
Hilder was described by one APA associate as "a very nice man."
His family near Hereford, England, are reportedly "devastated."
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