The Mysterious Death Of Chad Langford Explained

In 1992, Chad Langford's father, Jim Langford, noticed his son's behavior begin to change. Chad Langford was a military policeman serving at an army base near Huntsville, Alabama, according to Unsolved Mysteries. As the elder Langford recalls it, his son told him he had gone undercover, doing dangerous work involving guns and drugs. If anyone found out, he could be killed, he said. That same year, Chad Langford wound up dead. It was ruled a suicide, but Langford's father, among others, disagree.

On the night that he died, Chad Langford radioed in to base at around 7:40 p.m., informing them that he had discovered a mysterious car, empty and abandoned. He stopped to investigate. Backup arrived shortly thereafter, but it was too late. No trace of Langford could be found, nor was there an abandoned car. Instead, Langford's military ID, radio, and other personal items were arranged in the middle of the road, as if waiting to be discovered. Officers quickly began searching for their missing colleague.

He was still alive

Chad Langford was barely alive — bleeding from a gunshot wound to the head — when he was found by his fellow military officers, near his patrol car less than a mile away from where the young officer had reported the abandoned vehicle. Still breathing, Langford was in terrible condition: His hands were bound by his own handcuffs, his cap was stuffed in his mouth, the cable from his radar unit was around his neck, his feet were tied together with his own pistol strap, and his head was bleeding.

According to Unsolved Mysteries, police determined that Langford's gun was fired twice, but could figure out if either of those shots was the one that actually injured him. Furthermore, unidentified fingerprints were found on Langford's belongings, cords were tied around his ankles and neck, and Langford's fingerprints were missing from the gun, per The New York Times. Perhaps most chilling of all, there were two words written on Langford's left hand — "March 3" and "Robert." After his discovery, Chad Langford was quickly transported to a local hospital, receiving medical attention only to die a short time later.

Was it suicide?

Following the death of Chad Langford, the Army's Criminal Investigation Division (CID) investigated the incident, trying to ascertain what in fact had happened to the officer. Rather than murder, and despite the unusual circumstances, the CID officially declared the death of Chad Langford a suicide, through what's sometimes referred to as a posthumous psychological autopsy, according to Unsolved Mysteries. According to their findings, Langford was in emotional and psychological distress prior to his death. He suffered from this all throughout his life, but it was likely worsened by the recent end of a personal relationship.

Also uncovered, Langford made calls to close personal friends prior to his death, as if to say goodbye. Neither Langford's father nor his grandmother received a call. According to Unsolved Mysteries, Jim Langford said, "Chad would've called me. I know he would've. He would've called me if something was to the point where he was going to commit suicide, I know he would've but he didn't call me and he didn't call his grandmother, so there were no goodbye calls as far as I'm concerned." According to the report, Langford was also planning to steal from the Army. Langford's father, and even his ex-girlfriend — who had also noticed a change in her boyfriend's behavior — rejected these conclusions.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Or was it a cover-up

According to the official report regarding the death of Chad Langford, the undercover story was a fabrication for a troubled young man with low self-esteem and misguided dreams of dying in a blaze of glory to cover his own suicide. Per Unsolved Mysteries, there was very little done to investigate the crime as a murder, and even though two cars were stopped the night it happened, no one was questioned. For these reasons and more, Chad Langford's father is convinced that his son was murdered, and that the military is trying to cover it up. 

Motivating the crime could be Langford's undercover work, the danger of which he had expressed to his father shortly before he died. "He called me and told me that he'd been asked to do some undercover work," Jim Langford said, according to Unsolved Mysteries. "He called me three or four different times and each time he gave me a little bit about his still working undercover ... Probably two or three times he told me that if he was found out, that he was a dead man. At that time I told him ... you got to get out of this. And he came back with, I can't get out of it." 

In 1993, Congress asked the Pentagon to review 40 similar instances — including the Langford case –  in which the CID ruled the death of military personnel to be suicide despite evidence it may have actually been murder, as reported by The New York Times.