The wife of the U.S. staff sergeant accused of the shooting of 17 Afghan civilians said on Monday she does not believe her husband could kill innocent women and children, in an interview on NBC’s Today.
Karilyn Bales said she has only communicated with Robert Bales twice over the telephone since he was transferred to a prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and that he is confused and doesn't understand why he is being held. It doesn't make sense to her, she said, how he could have killed children.
“I just don't think he was involved,” she said. “It’s not him. It’s not him.”
“He loves children. He’s like a big kid himself. … And he would not do that. It's heartbreaking. I can't imagine losing my children. So my heart definitely goes out to them for losing all of their children.”
Karilyn Bales heard about the massacre while shopping at a supermarket, and when more details emerged about the accused killer, she said she was deeply troubled.
“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.”
Having served three tours already, the latest tour in Afghanistan came at a surprise to Bales and his family.
“It was a big shock, because we weren't on the schedule to be deployed again, to be honest with you,” she said. “He didn't want to miss out on any more of his kids' life. When he had joined he had wanted to go to Afghanistan. Going to Afghanistan didn't worry him. It was more about being just away from the family, more time.”
She continued: “I was upset, you know. Because I was hoping, I was planning my next phases with my family, and being able to share with him.”
On his last tour, Karilyn Bales said her husband suffered a traumatic brain injury, and she didn't hear about it until he returned from Afghanistan. However, she doesn't know whether her husband suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. She said that the stress of war was hard on him, as it is on many soldiers.
“I think what's missing is the human aspects,” she said. “They are first and foremost human. They are trained to be warriors to protect our freedoms. And people don't see the human side.”
As more details are released and a defense is planned for Bales, she said she is sticking by her husband. “I think he'll tell me what happened,” she said. “I don't think anything will really change my mind in believing that he did not do this. This is not what it appears to be.”