Suspect Dead in Missing Soldier Vanessa Guillén’s Case After Remains Found


By Rebecca Aguilar

July 1, 2020

Police confirm the suspect in the disappearance of Vanessa Guillén took his own life. Guillén’s family says her remains may have been found.

TEXAS — The family of a missing Fort Hood soldier, Vanessa Guillén, said Wednesday that they believe the human remains found Tuesday — not far from the base — were Guillén’s. An autopsy is still pending to make a positive identification. “She didn’t deserve this, none of it,” said her sister Mayra at a press conference in Washington, D.C.

The family’s attorney, Natalie Khawam, said the Army was investigating three suspects in Guillen’s disappearance. “As we understand there is a suspect in custody. The other one killed himself, and I understand a third suspect in custody,” Khawam said at a press conference on Wednesday.

“I have no credible information at this point that there is a 3rd suspect,” Christopher Grey, a U.S. Army spokesperson told The Americano.

Killeen police chief Charles Kimble said the Army investigators asked his department to help find one of the suspects, a soldier who fled Fort Hood on Tuesday night. The police located him walking on the east side of the city. “As officers attempted to make contact with the suspect, he produced a weapon” and shot himself, according to Chief Kimble. Investigators are not releasing the suspect’s name, but Chief Kimble also said at a press conference on Wednesday that the suspect was an active-duty soldier. 

Army investigators confirmed a civilian suspect in connection with the 20-year-old’s disappearance is in police custody. In a statement, the Army said the civilian suspect is the estranged wife of a former Fort Hood soldier and is currently at the Bell County Jail awaiting charges. They did not confirm whether there is a third suspect. 

Vanessa Guillén disappeared from Fort Hood on April 22. She had gone to work that day. The family’s attorney said Guillén had told friends, family —and even other soldiers — that she was being sexually harassed by a sergeant in her unit, but did not make a formal complaint with the Army because she was afraid of retaliation and ruining her career. “She was afraid to because the sexual harassment was coming from her superiors. Her concern was the retaliation, being blackballed, being retaliated against,” Khawam said. 

The family claimed at the press conference on Wednesday that the Army did not start paying attention to Guillén’s case until it got media attention. The military has not responded to the Guilléns claims directly. The family went to Washington, D.C. on Tuesday to demand a congressional hearing on the case, only to learn once they got there that human remains had been found near the Leon River in Bell County.

Khawam said the Army mishandled Guillen’s disappearance from the beginning. “They should be ashamed of themselves. The protocol was breached in every manner. We lost one of our own on our own base. Unacceptable. Should never happen ever,” said the family’s attorney.

Grey said in the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command statement this is still an ongoing criminal investigation. “We have made significant progress in this tragic situation and are doing everything possible to get to the truth and bring answers to the family of PFC. Vanessa Guillen,” Grey said.

The Army is offering a $25,000 reward for information that could help solve this case. The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) matched the reward, making it a total of $50,000.

Read the full U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command here:

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, who served in the military for 17 years, was also at the family’s press conference. Along with the family, she is demanding a congressional investigation. “We stand here for Vanessa. We stand here for justice. We stand here for every other service member who has experienced sexual harassment or assault and did not feel safe reporting it out of fear of retaliation,” said Gabbard.

Natalie Khawam said the only way they can get the truth will be if there is a congressional investigation. They want justice for Vanessa. “We will never know what happened ever until we get a congressional investigation because everything we were given was lies, it was evasive…I don’t know who is covering up for who, but it doesn’t matter. We lost a life. We lost a beautiful young soldier.”

This is a developing story.


CATEGORIES: Crime | Military | Texas


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