‘The surprise was that she got caught’: Sarah Hartsfield’s retired Army boss calls murder suspect ‘whip smart’

Sarah Hartsfield is accused of murdering her fifth husband, after he died in January. She fatally shot a fiancée in 2018.

Sarah Hartsfield, 48, is accused of murdering the fifth man she married, 46-year-old Joseph Hartsfield, in January.

SEE ALSO: Grand jury indicts Beach City woman for murder of husband who had ‘suspicious illness’

Joseph, a diabetic died at Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital due to what the medical examiner’s office ruled “complications of toxic effects of insulin.”

When she was arrested on Feb. 3, the Chambers County Sheriff’s Office shared the news on Facebook, in a post that’s now been shared hundreds of times.

$5 MILLION BOND ON MURDER SUSPECT Sheriff Brian Hawthorne reports that on January 7, 2023 at approximately 6:30 p.m.,...

Posted by Chambers County Sheriff's Office on Sunday, February 5, 2023

SEE ALSO: Prosecutors: Chambers County woman indicted after husband dies from ‘suspicious illness’ also killed past fiancé

Her mugshot made it to a man who supervised her in the U.S. Army more than a decade ago.

“It was a little bit of a surprise, but [at second thought] it was like, ‘Oh my gosh, she finally got busted’,” Cpt. Alfonz Markovics told only KPRC 2. “The surprise was that she got caught.”

He’s now retired but served as her supervisor at Fort Eustis in Newport News, Virginia in 2012. He called Sarah Hartsfield “whip-smart.”

SEE ALSO: ‘Show things in a positive light for me’: Sarah Hartsfield responds after seeing KPRC 2 story from jail

“Her mind could separate and compartmentalize and do everything in sequence and do it the right way,” Markovics said.

That’s why he found it unsurprising that she never got charged for fatally shooting David Bragg, her fiancée in between her third and fourth ex-husbands.

SEE ALSO: Witnesses testify before grand jury in Sarah Hartsfield murder case

The 2018 killing was ruled a self-defense justifiable homicide by Douglas County, Minnesota’s top prosecutor Chad Larson.

“It seemed planned,” Bragg’s brother Thomas Bragg told only KPRC 2.

During her first court appearance, Sarah Hartsfield told Texas prosecutors she went into his house in Garfield, Minn. with two guns but he wrestled one away from her and fired it first during an assault. That’s when she shot and killed him, calling it an “automatic response” and her only chance at survival.

“Seeing and knowing my brother, and knowing the situation around it, and the conversations that he had had with my parents about leaving and getting out of the relationship, it just felt dirty. It felt wrong,” Thomas Bragg said. “You feel guilty because you couldn’t protect somebody else.”

SEE ALSO: ‘Crazy to proceed’: Chambers County husband murder suspect Sarah Hartsfield shares story from jail

Larson re-opened the Minnesota case four days after a grand jury indicted Sarah Hartsfield for murder in February, following Joseph Hartsfield’s death in the hospital.

Pending the outcome of the re-opened Minnesota investigation, authorities could file charges, present it to a grand jury, or close it again, Larson said.

But the investigation isn’t quite over and there’s no exact timeline for how much longer it could take.

“She never admitted any ... wrongdoing,” Markovics said. “She’s not that kind of person. She’s not going to.”

Sarah Hartsfield is being held on a $4.5 million bond in the Chambers County Jail. Another court hearing is scheduled for Monday, when her court-appointed attorney could withdraw from the case and when she will again ask the judge to reduce her bond.

KPRC 2′s special in-depth look at the case is coming soon on KPRC 2+.

About the Author:

Bryce Newberry joined KPRC 2 in July 2022. He loves the thrill of breaking news and digging deep on a story that gets people talking.