Fernandes is now the 10th Fort Hood soldier to die under questionable circumstances.
Fort Hood officials confirmed the death of 23-year-old Sgt. Elder Fernandes. The young soldier had been missing since Aug. 17. Yesterday evening police in Temple, Texas, a city 30 miles east of the base, received a call about a body that was hanging from a tree. Temple police said the body had been there for a while, yet couldn’t immediately confirm that it was indeed Fernandes. They did say, however, that his belongings, including ID, were located near the body.
Late last night, Natalie Khawam, the lawyer representing the family of Sgt. Elder Fernandes, who also represents the family of Vanessa Guillén, announced on Twitter that Fernandes had been found dead.
“Our worst nightmare has happened,” Khawam tweeted. “One of our own, Sergeant Elder Fernandes, has been found dead today. We are sickened by this tragedy that has happened one too many times. We are heartbroken for Elder Fernandes’s family.”
Fernandes is now the 10th Fort Hood soldier to die since March.
- March 1: Spc. Shelby Jones, 20, was shot and killed at a strip club near Fort Hood.
- March 5: Spc. Christopher Sawyer, 29, was found unresponsive in his on-post residence.
- March 14: Spc. Freddy Delacruz Jr., 23, was among three victims found dead of gunshot wounds at an off-base apartment complex.
- April 22: Spc. Vanessa Guillén, 20, was reported missing after working in one of the regiment’s arms room. Her remains were found weeks later. A fellow soldier who was a suspect in her killing shot himself when confronted by local police.
- May 18: Pfc. Brandon Rosecrans, 27, was found dead from a gunshot wound near his burning Jeep, about 13 miles from the base.
- June 19: Pvt. Gregory Morales, 24. His skeletal remains were found off base, and foul play is suspected.
- July 17: Pvt. Mejhor Morta, 27. His body was found unresponsive by a group of fishermen in the vicinity of Stillhouse Lake. Drowning is suspected, but the investigation is ongoing.
- Aug. 2: Spc. Francisco Gilberto Hernandez-Vargas, 24. His body was recovered after a boating incident on Stillhouse Hollow Lake, which is 15 miles from Fort Hood.
- Aug. 13: Sgt. Bradley Moore, 36, died during a training exercise.
Earlier this week, an army official said that Fernandes had been a victim of sexual abuse and that he had been transferred to a different unit.
READ MORE: What Veterans Are Saying About Trump and the Russian Bounties: ‘I Don’t Think He Cares About Troops at All’
“We can confirm there is an open investigation of abusive sexual contact involving Sgt. Fernandes,” Lt. Col. Chris Brautigam, a 1st Cavalry Division spokesman, said in a statement to NBC News. “The unit sexual assault response coordinator has been working closely with Sgt. Fernandes, ensuring he was aware of all his reporting, care, and victim advocacy options.”
On Aug. 6, U.S. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said they are investigating the recent increase in deaths, murder, and assault at Fort Hood.