Police in Florida are conducting a death investigation involving Turkey’s senior national representative to the U.S. Central Command international coalition in Tampa.
That officer, Huseyin Kurtdere, 39, has been arrested and accused of tying up and drugging a woman at his home, who eventually died, according to police records obtained by Military Times.
Kurtdere was arrested by the Tampa Police Department Monday after authorities received an emergency call via dispatch reporting that a 39-year-old woman was not breathing.
The woman’s name and relationship to Kurtdere was not identified in a police report and Tampa police say Florida state law prohibits them from naming crime victims.
Kurtdere has been charged with three counts of felony false imprisonment and three counts of misdemeanor battery. He is being held in jail with no bond set.
Tampa Police spokeswoman Jamel Lanee told Military Times there is an ongoing death investigation and would not comment further.
The suspect, a major in the Turkish military, is that nation’s senior national representative to the international coalition at CENTCOM and has been stationed there a little more than a year, Navy Capt. Bill Urban, CENTCOM’s spokesman, told Military Times. Made up of some 50 nations, the coalition was formed to assist in the fight against jihadi groups in the wake of 9/11.
The Turkish consulate in Washington did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. There was no attorney listed for Kurtdere in jail records.
According to a police report obtained by Military Times:
Tampa Fire Rescue and the Tampa Police Department responded to Kurtdere’s home and found the victim dead on a bedroom floor of the apartment. Kurtdere was present on scene and had been giving the victim CPR as he waited for first responders.
As they investigated, police learned that Kurtdere has been “tying up” the victim to prevent her from leaving the apartment.
“This had occurred on multiple occasions over the last few days prior to her being located deceased,” officers said.
The victim’s daughter, 7, was also present in the apartment when police found the woman dead and on several times previously when she was tied up.
The daughter, who was not named, underwent a forensic interview. During the interview, the daughter told investigators she witnessed an individual — whose name was redacted in the report — tie up her mother with red, yellow and blue fitness bands. The girl also told investigators an individual — whose name was also redacted — used a sock to gag her mother while that individual was restraining her.
“Huseyin [Kurtdere] even solicited the help of” another individual whose name was redacted, “to tie her mother’s feet up.”
Several other people, whose names were redacted, were also present in the apartment.
The local Department of Children and Families was contacted and took custody “of all three children.”
Kurtdere was asked to come down to police headquarters and give a statement, which he agreed to do. Once there, a recorded post-Miranda interview was conducted with him. During the interview Kurtdere told investigators the following:
Around July 10, the victim began to act erratically. He told police that he believed she was suffering from postpartum depression. On July 13, they went to MacDill Air Force Base, where she saw a doctor and was prescribed medication. She began to take the medication from the July 13 to July 17. However, her baby she was breastfeeding began to have a reaction so she stopped taking it.
Kurtdere told police that the victim began to act erratically again and would try to leave the house barefoot. He stated that on on July 23, 24 and 25 he physically restrained the victim and tied her up using bedsheets and workout bands to prevent her from leaving. The victim resisted being tied up. Kurtdere added that he would “dose her water with melatonin and give it to her with the hopes she would sleep and feel better.”
On July 24 and July 25, after she “calmed down,” Kurtdere said he would release her from the bindings. On July 25, after being bound and having a sock stuffed in her mouth Kurtdere again released her from the bindings and placed her in bed.
After doing this, Kurtdere said he noticed the victim had a weak pulse and weak breathing and did not get out of the bed.
He said he found her deceased when he went to wake her so she could watch the children.
The cause of death is pending an autopsy that was conducted July 28.
Howard Altman is an award-winning editor and reporter who was previously the military reporter for the Tampa Bay Times and before that the Tampa Tribune, where he covered USCENTCOM, USSOCOM and SOF writ large among many other topics.