The father of a soldier listed as missing-captured in Iraq since 2004 said Sunday that the military had informed him that his son's remains had been found.
Keith Maupin said an Army general told him DNA testing had identified the remains of his son, Sgt. Keith Matthew Maupin, or "Matt" as he was commonly known. He said the Army didn't say how or where in Iraq his son's remains were discovered, only that officials found a shirt similar to the one his son was wearing at the time of his disappearance.
"My heart sinks, but I know they can't hurt him anymore," Maupin said, speaking in the soldier's hometown near suburban Cincinnati.
The Army was continuing its investigation, he said.
Lt. Lee Packnett, an Army public affairs officer in Washington, confirmed that the Maupins were notified Sunday that their son's remains had been identified. Packnett said an official statement about the identification would be released Monday.
Matt Maupin was a 20-year-old private first class when he was captured April 9, 2004, after his fuel convoy, part of the 724th Transportation Company, was ambushed west of Baghdad.
A week later, the Arab television network Al-Jazeera aired a videotape showing Maupin sitting on the floor surrounded by five masked men holding automatic rifles.
That June, Al-Jazeera aired another tape purporting to show a U.S. soldier being shot. But the dark and grainy tape showed only the back of the victim's head and not the actual shooting.
The Maupins refused to believe it was their son, and the Army had listed him as missing-captured. The Maupins lobbied hard for the Army to continue listing their son as missing-captured, fearing that another designation would undermine efforts to find him.
Keith Maupin said the Army told him early on that there was only a 50 percent chance his son would be found alive. He said he doesn't hold the Army responsible for his son's death, but that he did hold the Army responsible for bringing his son home.
"I told them when we'd go up to the Pentagon, whether he walks off a plane or is carried off, you're not going to leave him in Iraq like you did those guys in Vietnam," Maupin said.
Keith Maupin and his ex-wife, Carolyn, held a candlelight vigil Sunday night outside the Yellow Ribbon Support Center in Batavia, an office they used to package thousands of boxes of donated snacks and toiletries for shipment to soldiers in Iraq.
"It hurts," Carolyn Maupin said of her son's death. "After you go through almost four years of hope, and this is what happens, it's like a let down, so I'm trying to get through that right now."
Two U.S. soldiers remain missing in action in Iraq. Ahmed Qusai al-Taayie, a 41-year-old Iraqi-born reserve soldier from Ann Arbor, Mich., was abducted while visiting his Iraqi wife on Oct. 23, 2006, in Baghdad. Capt. Michael Speicher, a Navy pilot, has been missing since the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
Matt Maupin graduated from Glen Este High School, just east of Cincinnati, in 2001 and attended the University of Cincinnati for a year before joining the Army Reserves.
Dan Simmons, the athletic director at Glen Este, remembered Maupin as a quiet but hardworking backup player on the school's football team.
"Matt was a selfless kid on the football field," Simmons said. "He did whatever the coaches told him. He wasn't a starter, but he made the other kids play harder."
A month after his capture, Maupin was promoted to the rank of specialist. In April 2005, he was promoted to sergeant.