Skip to comments.Military warns all bases of HIV case; Canadian soldiers around world told to seek medical advice
Posted on 03/26/2005 6:53:26 PM PST by CHARLITE
Jennifer Murphy was known for her promiscuity.
But the 31-year-old woman arrested earlier this month after she was accused of knowingly spreading the virus that causes AIDS by having unprotected sex with a soldier was also known to neighbours as a polite and well-mannered woman, friendly and average.
Now military investigators are trying to reconcile the two faces of the woman they've held in custody since March 2, even as they're warning Canadian soldiers around the world to seek medical advice if they suspect they've been involved in the scandal that's roiling Canadian Forces Base Borden, 20 kilometres southwest of Barrie.
Murphy, who has lived both in Newfoundland and Ontario, was arrested at CFB Borden and charged with two counts of aggravated assault after allegedly engaging in unprotected sex with a soldier, without informing him she was HIV-positive.
Military investigators fear there are others, part of a military culture where many say casual sex is common, who may have had unprotected sex with Murphy.
In fact, when investigators from the military's National Investigation Service (NIS) first questioned Murphy, it had more to do with her hanging around the singles' residences on base than with HIV or AIDS.
"They got her on trespassing because she'd been in the shacks," said a soldier at Borden, referring to the local name for singles' quarters. "During her time here she went through all the shacks," the soldier said, adding she'd seen Murphy wandering through the halls of one of the quarters, going from room to room dressed in only a pink G-string and knee-high boots.
Capt. Mark Giles, an NIS investigator, confirmed yesterday that Murphy was being questioned on a "minor, unrelated matter," when she volunteered she was HIV-positive and gave them the name of a soldier she'd been with.
Giles said investigators then questioned the young private, leading to criminal charges against Murphy. She remains in custody at Penetanguishene's superjail, awaiting bail proceedings in Barrie next week.
Many of those who knew Murphy before her arrest say they can't believe the mother of a teenage son is involved.
Mike Penney, who has known Murphy since she moved into the yellow clapboard row house next door to him in St. John's more than 20 years ago, described her as "an average girl.
"The Jennifer I knew was polite and well-behaved," Penney said, adding he like most of her friends knew she had AIDS.
Murphy has told friends that she acquired HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, in 1991-92, and said the man who infected her did so knowingly.
"If she's done these things that they said she's done, then I can only suspect that maybe the virus is messing with her brain," Penney said.
A friend in Toronto said she was upset by the allegations against Murphy.
"It's disgusting everybody's taking one side, it's totally false," said the friend, who identified herself as Andrea.
Murphy, she said, "is a wonderful mother, a wonderful human being, dedicated and faithful wife, and dedicated in the community. She's like a sister."
Murphy's friends and neighbours at the sprawling military base outside Barrie also say they remember her, in the words of a close neighbour, as "friendly and normal."
She was living in Angus, Ont., when she met a soldier at CFB Borden, taking a mechanic's course. They dated briefly and decided to marry to meet military regulations and live together on the base.
When Murphy's husband completed his course, he was posted to CFB Gagetown in New Brunswick. They moved away in June 2004.
Many said they didn't recognize the woman who returned to Borden at the end of February to visit friends.
One close friend, who asked not to be identified, was stunned by the transformation, which he said was like "night and day." When he confronted Murphy on her erratic behaviour, she explained she'd forgotten her medication in Newfoundland.
It was that side of Murphy military investigators confronted March 2, after she had allegedly propositioned soldiers at Borden, home to some 3,200 teaching and support staff. The base, about two hours north of Toronto, sees some 15,000 soldiers, sailors and air personnel pass through annually for training.
It's that transient traffic that has military investigators and health officials concerned.
In an emergency message sent Thursday to Canadian Forces personnel worldwide, military investigators ask to speak to "anyone who believes they may have had sexual contact with this woman," and advise them to consult a doctor immediately.
Giles characterized the warning as "an extra precaution."
"I think we've captured everyone internally, but this is just an extra precaution," he said, pointing out that an earlier warning March 18 had already alerted public affairs officers in the region, and later at all Canadian bases here and abroad.
Soldiers at Borden weren't impressed, arguing a warning should have gone out immediately after Murphy's arrest.
"This is a training base and people come through here all the time," said one soldier, asking that his name not be used. "The longer they waited, the more risk there was of infection spreading. The shacks are like college dorms there's a lot of casual sex."
Back in Newfoundland, the people who know Murphy say there's yet another side to the woman they know as a hard-luck survivor, who grew up poor in subsidized housing with her mother and two siblings.
They say they knew Murphy as a lesbian who years ago married her female partner in Logy Bay, a small settlement just north of St. John's an event they say was covered by both the CBC and the St. John's Telegram.
"It was quite the hullabaloo at the time," said a friend and former neighbour, recalling the long white limousine that pulled up to pick up Murphy, dressed in a white wedding gown. "It didn't seem like a mock wedding to me," he said.
"It looked real. They had a minister, and all. Now she's involved in another hullabaloo, but this one with much more serious consequences."
Oh sure. Make excuses for her. The man who "infected her" in '91/'92 did so willingly. Now she follows suit. People who have little self control and need sex badly enough in order to make themselves feel worthwhile, don't care about the consequences, even if it affects others.
Thanks for the ping.
Aw, man, all four of those Canadian Soldiers need to get tested!
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How is it that there's almost ALWAYS some newbie guy/gal who knows the unfortunate subject of a story here on FR?
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