Seatac, Wash. — The wife of a U.S. soldier accused of killing 17 Afghan civilians says her husband showed no signs of post-traumatic stress disorder before he deployed, and she doesn’t feel like she’ll ever believe he was involved in the killings.
“I just don’t think he was involved,” Karilyn Bales said in an interview with Matt Lauer that aired during Monday’s “NBC Nightly News” broadcast. “I don’t know enough information. This is not him. It’s not him.”
Earlier, she said on NBC’s “Today” show that she didn’t know much about PTSD symptoms.
“He doesn’t have nightmares, you know, things like that. No dreams,” Bales said.
She defended her husband, Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, in the weekend interview. Officials say Robert Bales left his base March 11 in southern Afghanistan and killed eight Afghan adults and nine children.
The wife of the Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier said the accusations are “unbelievable to me.”
“He loves children, he’s like a big kid himself,” she said. “I have no idea what happened, but he would not … he loves children, and he would not do that.”
He was formally charged Friday with 17 counts of premeditated murder and other crimes, and is being held at a U.S. military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
Karilyn Bales was in a grocery store when she first heard of the rampage in a phone call from her parents.
“They said, well it looks like a U.S. soldier, some Afghan civilians were killed by a soldier,” she said.
She learned more when she got home.
“I saw 38-year-old staff sergeant, and I don’t think there are very many of those, and I probably prayed and prayed that my husband wasn’t involved,” she said. “And then, I received a phone call from the Army saying that they would like to come out and talk to me. And I was relieved, because when you get a phone call, you know that your soldier is not deceased.”
She was told about the shootings.
“They held my hand, and they just said that perhaps, you know, they thought that he had left the base, and gone out and perhaps killed the Afghan civilians, and that was really the only sentence, and I just started crying,” she said.
The deaths of the nine Afghan children are especially difficult, she said.
“It’s heartbreaking. I can’t imagine losing my children, so my heart definitely goes out to them for losing all of their children.”
Robert Bales was on his fourth tour of duty in a war zone, having served three tours in Iraq, where he suffered a head injury and a foot injury. Karilyn Bales said his last deployment was more “secretive” and “more intense.”