John Wylie Needham, RIP
John Wylie Needham, RIP

Iraq Vet Accused of Murdering Girlfriend in Drunken Fit Dies in Arizona

Before he saw combat in Iraq, John Wylie Needham was a tall, mellow surfer and house painter from San Clemente. He came home with shrapnel wounds, depression and major symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and on Sept. 1 2008, he allegedly beat his young girlfriend to death during an argument. When Sheriff's deputies reached the scene, Needham answered the door stark naked. He could provide no explanation for what he'd done.

I wrote about Needham and other combat vets in our Veteran's Day Issue from 2008, "The Scars You Can't See," which dealt with the evolution in treatment for PTSD since the Vietnam War, and how many local veterans from that conflict continue to face daily psychological problems 40 years after they last saw combat. 

Now, as both the OC Register and Salon Magazine are reporting, Needham is dead.

According to Salon he died shortly after a surgery at a Veteran's Administration hospital in Arizona. No word yet on what caused his death. However, Needham had tried to shoot himself in the head in Iraq before being discharged, and before he was arrested for murdering his girlfriend, he'd been expressing thoughts of suicide. 

Needham was awaiting trial and was out of jail on a $1 million bail bond. Yesterday the Orange County District Attorney released a press release stating that it was dropping the charges against him.


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