Part 3 of Special Report: Death at Naval Station Great Lakes
On the day that Kyle Antonacci died, the 22-year-old was acting as a secret informant for NCIS at Naval Station Great Lakes. On Feb. 1, 2010, Kyle taped a conversation for NCIS with a female Marine about a rape incident that had allegedly occurred in the barracks. A few hours later, he was discovered hanging by a belt in the closet of his room on the Illinois military base.
Nine months earlier, the female Marine had accused Kyle’s friend and fellow seaman Mike Pineda of sexually assaulting her in Kyle’s room. The case went to trial six months later. During the trial, Kyle testified the Marine had originally come to his room because they had previously been sexually involved together but stated he was no longer interested in her and called Pineda for help. The Marine claimed Pineda raped her once Kyle left the room. In November 2009, a jury found Pineda guilty and sentenced him to three months in prison and a bad-conduct discharge.
But after Pineda’s conviction, military officials had doubts about Kyle’s involvement in the incident and his testimony on the stand. According to documents, NCIS informed Kyle about charges they might pursue against him, which included perjury, false official statement and rape. In response, Kyle admitted to being dishonest and apologized to NCIS for omitting certain details about that night.
Kyle confessed to having sex with the Marine the same night she accused his friend of rape, which had never been mentioned before. Kyle claimed he hid those details because he was being threatened by the female Marine to testify a certain way. He alleged the Marine told him she would accuse him of rape too if he spoke out about their sexual encounter that night.
“I did not speak about all events because of her threat of rape,” Kyle wrote in a statement to NCIS, which Patch obtained. “I knew when she was discussing these things that she was stretching the truth. I went along with this because she threatened me.”
Before the trial, Kyle filed a report with NCIS, which Patch also obtained, claiming he was being threatened by one of her Marine comrades with what looked like a knife. He also reported an X carved into his front door.
In the wake of his admission to NCIS, Kyle conducted two wiretapped conversations with the female Marine for NCIS. In them, Kyle tried to get her to elaborate on the details of their sexual encounter and own up to remembering more about the incident than she claimed on the stand.
“He was so happy when he made this arrangement with NCIS,” said his mother, Lisa Antonacci. In exchange for being a wired informant, Lisa said he told her he was going to be transferred to a military base in Pensacola, FL.
But during those taped conversations, the female Marine told Kyle she had no idea he was threatened by her fellow Marines. She stuck by her story that she was assaulted by Pineda and emphasized she never had plans to charge Kyle with rape. She said she wished she could help him more, but now that she had transferred bases, was pregnant and engaged, she was trying to forget about the whole thing and move on with her life. She also told Kyle she didn’t know that NCIS was still investigating the incident.
“I’m not involved in it anymore, no one is calling me,” the female Marine told Kyle in one of the taped conversations. “I’m sorry that it’s still following you and everything but I’m really just trying to stay away from it,” she added.
Click on the video link above to listen to more of the conversation.
Both Pineda and the Antonaccis think she knew the conversations were being recorded. Pineda claimed the Marine still had friends at the Naval Station who were tipping her off about NCIS’s new investigation.
The female Marine told Patch that she was “not interested” in being interviewed again about the incident.
A few hours after the second taped conversation with the Marine, Kyle was found dead.
“Right off the bat I knew that he didn’t commit suicide,” Pineda remembered of his reaction in jail when authorities first told him what happened. “Kyle was murdered. I was positive a murder was committed on him.”
Kyle’s death has been under investigation by the Lake County Coroner’s Office and NCIS for the past 20 months. When contacted by Patch, both organizations said they were unable to confirm or deny such allegations because the case was still active. But Kyle’s parents, Lisa and Al Antonacci, say the investigation was recently completed and plan to meet with military personnel in person to discuss the findings in the near future. NCIS did not return Patch’s calls for further comment.
The Antonaccis have cried foul play ever since they were informed about Kyle’s death and have been unsatisfied with the way officials have handled the situation. Then in June, the U.S. Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals set aside the jury’s original findings and sentence against Pineda and authorized a rehearing. In September, before a rehearing took place, the Navy ordered Pineda’s charges to be “withdrawn and dismissed.” He is also being honorably discharged from the Navy.
“I have some stress relieved to say the least with my conviction and charge set aside,” Pineda told Patch. “However it is not much consolation knowing that the individuals at the top of this mess are still being protected by their respective institutions for their gross misconduct and trampling of the constitution they swore to protect.”
The more Kyle’s parents find out about their son’s death and the events that preceded it, the harder it is for them to come to terms with how he died. Al said he’s narrowed it down to three scenarios.
“One, either they did it, the Marines; that it was done as an accident to scare him, that it went to far; or three, they bullied him to the point that he wanted to kill himself,” he said.
Either way the family is blaming officials at Naval Station Great Lakes for not protecting their son from the threats he told them he was concerned about. “Somewhere along the line we believe that NCIS dropped the ball,” Al said.
Next: Part 4: Family Exhumes Navy Seaman's Body