Body Found Hanging From Tree Could Be Missing Fort Hood Soldier


Image via Fort Hood Press Center

By Araceli Cruz

August 26, 2020

If the autopsy confirms it’s Sgt. Elder Fernandes, he would be the 10th Fort Hood soldier to die since March.

Natalie Khawam, the lawyer representing the family of Sgt. Elder Fernandes, said the Fort Hood soldier is dead, a week after being reported missing by Fort Hood officials. Yesterday, Khawam, who is also representing the family of Vanessa Guillén, announced that a body had been found hanging from a tree in Temple, Texas, about 30 miles east of the base.

“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.”

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Around 5:36 p.m. on Tuesday, the Temple Police Department received a report on a medical call along the railroad tracks west of South 49th Street. The caller told the dispatcher that a male was observed near the railroad tracks. When the officers arrived at the scene, they determined that the body had been deceased for some time.

Police found identification at the scene that indicated the body was that of the missing Fort Hood soldier. However, no forensic confirmation has been made at this time. Police also said that there is no indication of foul play at this initial stage of the investigation and that the investigation is ongoing. An autopsy has been ordered. 

“We will not stop until we find out what happened to Elder,” Khawam tweeted. “We demand a Congressional Investigation of Ft. Hood. We must protect our soldiers! We demand Justice for Elder!”

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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.

“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.”




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