Four years ago when Christopher Tur’s lifeless body was found floating in the water near the U.S. Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, speculation quickly surfaced about whether the Montgomery County native’s demise was linked to infidelity and murder.
On Wednesday, the former commander of the naval base turned himself in to face charges related to Tur’s death. Navy Capt. John Nettleton was charged with obstructing justice, lying to investigators, and falsifying records related to the January 2015 death of Tur, who was 42, according to a federal indictment.
Nettleton is accused of trying to hide that he was having an affair with Tur’s wife, that he had fought twice with Tur the night the victim disappeared, gave misleading information about Tur’s last whereabouts, and that he would not let Coast Guard helicopters search for Tur after he was reported missing.
But while the charges brought some answers about the mystery they also raised new concerns for the family of Tur, a retired Marine who was working as a civilian contractor at the time of his death.
Tur’s body was found floating near the base Jan. 11, 2015, two days after he disappeared. While drowning is the official cause of death, he also had broken ribs and a laceration over an eye, said Michael Tur, a brother.
Michael Tur said his family is troubled that Nettleton has not been charged with homicide, and that the military is not prosecuting the case. Instead, civilian federal prosecutors are handling it.
“After reading the indictment, reasonable people would conclude a homicide is logical,” Michael Tur said. "Innocent people don’t point other people in the wrong direction and don’t deny services to help the investigation, and they don’t leave key details out about what happened that night. He was asked about an affair, and he denied it. "
Christopher Tur suspected there was trouble in his 20-year marriage with Lara Tur but only saw proof the night he disappeared, according to his brother.
Nettleton and Lara were engaged in inappropriate behavior during a going-away party for a Navy officer, which resulted in Nettleton and Christopher Tur fighting, Michael Tur said.
Later that evening Christopher Tur went to Nettleton’s home and the two men fought again, the indictment said. Tur’s blood was found in the house, on the deck and on a rag found behind the house, it said.
“My brother Christopher had a terrible ending, one that pierced his heart — then he lost his life,” Michael Tur said. He said his family paid to have an independent autopsy done and plans to ask the Navy to punish Nettleton administratively with a dishonorable discharge before he can retire next month.
Christopher Tur was a 1991 North Penn High School graduate. He grew up in Hatfield, Montgomery County, and married his wife in 1995. The couple had two daughters and moved to the Cuban naval base in 2011.
At the time of his death, Tur worked as a civilian for the Navy Exchange Service Command, which runs retail stores serving bases worldwide. His wife, also a civilian, worked as director of the base’s Fleet and Family Services Center, which provides counseling and support to Navy families.
Michael Tur said his family no longer has contact with his late brother’s wife. Attempts to reach her and her attorney were not successful.
Nettleton turned himself in to federal authorities in Jacksonville, Fla., on Wednesday and he is being held there by the U.S. Marshals Service. His attorney, Colby Vokey, confirmed he had been indicted and arrested but declined to comment further.