More than a year and a half after Air Force Capt. Craig Button flew his A-10 fighter jet into a Colorado mountain and killed himself, the military still doesn't know why he did it.
The Air Force Office of Special Investigations conducted 200 interviews in hopes of determining the truth of some popular theories, such as that Button, 32, was troubled over his sexual identity and distraught that he would be expelled from the military.No clear answers emerged, and there are no plans to reopen the investigation.
"No credible evidence to support theories of homosexuality, financial difficulties, family conflicts, militia ties or any other possible motivation has been discovered," said Maj. Steve Murray, spokesman for the investigators.
Button's A-10 attack jet, which carried four 500-pound bombs from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, broke formation during a training mission with two other planes on April 2, 1997. For three hours, Button flew an erratic 500-mile course that ended when he crashed into the 13,000-foot Gold Dust Peak near Eagle, Colo.
The Tucson Citizen obtained the Air Force's report on its investigation and published parts of it Wednesday.
A psychological autopsy in the report concluded that Button's religious beliefs may have been responsible because they conflicted with his job as a fighter pilot.
His mother is a devout Jehovah's Witness opposed to killing, the newspaper said. His parents told investigators that days before his death, he had asked them for more information about the end of the world.
Investigators found in Button's bed stand a Bible and a religious pamphlet, which described "God asking a father to sacrifice his only son on a burning pyre at the side of a mountain," the report said.
"Capt. Craig Button intended to die or be rescued by divine intervention of God at the last possible moment," the report said.
"Did that struggle to free himself of his mother's religious beliefs collapse at the moment of truth? Here he was - the next step in the mission was to become a full-fledged `bomb-dropping people killer.' Until now, flying was an art, not a killing science," the report said.
The report also notes a phone call the night of April 1 that appeared to have upset Button, who refused to discuss it with his roommate.
On the subject of Button's sexuality, the report includes comments from Button's roommate, who said he never saw Button with a woman in his room or on a date. Other women told investigators they only had "brother-sister" relationships with Button.
However, another woman quoted in the newspaper's excerpt from the report said that if Button did not make sexual advances toward women, "it was due to his manners."