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1 Fort Hood victim was Illinois sergeant, newlywed: relative

Sgt. Timothy Owens wore his U.S. Army uniform his wedding August 2013. | Family photo

Sgt. Timothy Owens wore his U.S. Army uniform to his wedding in August 2013. | Family photo

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Updated: May 5, 2014 8:58AM



A U.S. Army sergeant from Illinois was among the soldiers killed in a shooting at the Army base in Fort Hood, Texas, a relative told the Sun-Times on Thursday.

U.S. Army Sgt. Timothy Owens, a native of downstate Effingham was one of four people — including the gunman — killed during the attack Wednesday at the base in central Texas. Sixteen people were wounded.

Darlene Humphrey, Owens’ mother-in-law, said the sergeant, 37, married her daughter Billy last August. Her daughter was on base, at the couple’s home, during the shooting, and was told by military police to stay there, Humphrey said, recalling the conversation she had with her daughter in the aftermath of the shootings.

After learning he was shot, her daughter was rushed to the hospital, where several chaplains were waiting to speak with her. She was told she couldn’t see his body: “Apparently it was close-range and to the chest,” Humphrey, of Missouri, said in a phone interview, describing her son-in-law’s injuries.

Humphrey called Owens “very kind” and always willing to help: “Anything you wanted done, he would do for you. He was thoughtful. He believed everyone should work their problems out instead of bickering. Just a wonderful man.”

Humphrey said Owens was extremely close to his mother in Effingham, who had been suffering health setbacks and was already mourning the death of another son, who had a disability.

She said Owens and Billy had gone to high school together. They reunited last year and married in August.

Humphrey said her daughter is in shock. Several soldiers who witnessed the shooting, some who even tried to intervene, went to her daughter’s home on Thursday to offer their condolences.

“It’s just one of those things that you just hear about, but you don’t think will ever touch you. All I can say is we really loved him. In the short time we even knew him, he called me ‘Mom’ and he called my husband ‘Dad,’ ” Humphrey said.

Owens’ mother, Mary Muntean, saw the news of the Fort Hood attack on her television. When she couldn’t reach her son, she called his wife.

“She said, ‘Mom, I want to tell you how sorry I am. Tim is gone,’ ” Muntean said. “I broke down. I’m 77 years old, and I can’t hardly take this.”

Less than two weeks ago, Muntean was reunited with a daughter she gave up for adoption at birth.

Muntean told the Associated Press that her 54-year-old daughter sought her out, and the two met on March 23, she said.

“She finds one child and loses another,” said Betty Goodwin, Muntean’s niece and Owens’ cousin.

Owens’ cousin, Glen Welton of Effingham, said Owens grew up with military dreams.

“He was one of those kids who wanted to wear camouflage and wanted to wear bomber jackets and sunglasses,” said Welton, himself a National Guard veteran of Iraq. “It took him a few years before he got himself in.”

Owens dropped out of high school in 1995, according to his mother and school records. She said he earned his GED diploma after joining the Army in 2004.

Welton said he ran into Owens last year at a funeral and the two figured out they had served in Iraq at the same time. Welton was there from 2005-06.

A photo from that day shows Welton with his arm around Owens, who wore his Army dress uniform, including a beret, and a pair of dark sunglasses.

“He had grown into a man. The military had made him a complete man,” Goodwin said. “I sure know he cleaned up pretty with his uniform.”

Family said Owens had been previously married and had children from that marriage.

Owens will be buried at Lake Spring Cemetery in Missouri, where his brother also is buried, according to Humphrey.

Contributing: AP

Email: tsfondeles@suntimes.com

Twitter: @TinaSfon



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