Fort Hood soldier suspected of missing Spc. Vanessa Guillen commits suicide after the discovery of human remains
CPS. Vanessa Guillen (US Army)
AUSTIN, Texas – The remains of the missing soldier from Fort Hood SPC. Vanessa Guillen has likely been located and another soldier suspected of being involved in his disappearance committed suicide on Wednesday morning as police approached him, the Army Criminal Investigations Command said.
On Tuesday, military investigators said they believed human remains found near the Leon River in Bell County were likely related to the search for Guillen, who has been missing for two months. However, a positive identification is still pending.
“We believe his remains have been found. We believe the suspect committed suicide in the morning. And that, unfortunately, does not give us any information on how this happened. [or] why a handsome young soldier is not with us today, ”Natalie Khawam, lawyer for the Guillen family, said Wednesday at a press conference in Washington, DC
Guillen, a 20-year-old small arms repairer with the 3rd Cavalry Regiment, has been missing since April 22. She was last seen at work in the armory of the regimental engineer squadron. Guillen was not scheduled to work that day, but she was called by someone, Khawam said.
“We have made significant progress in this tragic situation and are doing all we can to uncover the truth and provide answers to the Pfc family. Vanessa Guillen, ”said Chris Gray, spokesperson for the Army CID.
The suspect shot himself at around 1:17 a.m. Wednesday as officers from the US Marshals Service, the Killeen Police Department and the Lone Star Fugitive Task Force attempted to contact him in the 4700 block of the East Rancier Avenue in Killeen, the city in central Texas. just outside the gates of Fort Hood.
Identified as a “junior soldier”, the man had fled the army base Tuesday evening and army investigators had issued an alert to locate him. When officers approached him, the soldier revealed the weapon and shot himself to death, according to a press release from CID.
Another suspect, a civilian, was arrested by the Texas Rangers. The unidentified civilian suspect is the ex-wife of a former Fort Hood soldier and was in custody in Bell County Jail awaiting charge by civilian authorities, according to CID.
While CID declined to release the name of the deceased suspect, Khawam identified the man as Aaron David Robinson.
Robinson was the soldier Guillen said her family sexually harassed her, Khawam said. That’s the name they gave the authorities when they visited the base last week for a meeting with the commanders at Fort Hood.
Vanessa’s sister Mayra Guillen said on Wednesday that when she first traveled to Fort Hood in April to look for her sister, she had met Robinson.
“I met him, not knowing he had anything to do with it,” she said. “I felt something was telling me that he had done something and I was apparently not wrong. He still had the nerve that same day to laugh in my face. Apparently now he’s committing suicide. Why? I do not know. But whoever is responsible must pay.
Mayra Guillen spoke alongside Khawam and Representative Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, at the press conference in Washington. The Guillen family, originally from Houston, traveled to the capital this week to ask Congress for an investigation into the handling of the Vanessa and Fort Hood case.
“We demand an investigation from Congress,” she said. “I need everyone’s help to keep the story alive because they claim that sexual harassment, apparently to them, is not important. And now? Because it led to this.
Khawam said she believes Congress needs to intervene because when the military investigates its own actions, it is not as reliable.
“I want to know who lied and why,” she said. “We pay these people with our own money to have these jobs and do the right thing. I love our soldiers. I represent them on a daily basis. It should never happen again. “
The lawyer called for legislation on Guillen’s behalf to create a third-party agency where soldiers can go to report sexual harassment and assault. While Guillen had reported the cases of sexual harassment to her family, she did not visit her unit because the abuser was her supervisor and she feared retaliation, Khawam said.
At one point, Robinson walked into a locker room while Guillen was showering, and he sat down and watched, she said.
“She just wanted a career in the military. She didn’t want it to ruin her career, ”Khawam said. “This needs to be corrected. The system is broken. It does not work.”
Gabbard, an Army National Guard major, said the military need a system they can trust and that will do justice.
“This is what Vanessa and her family deserve. This is what all of our soldiers deserve. So I side with the Guillen family in calling for congressional oversight, ”Gabbard said. “We need to know why she didn’t get the help she needed when she needed it.”
The investigation remains open and ongoing, Gray said. ADD / Guilen was promoted to specialist on Wednesday “because of time spent on duty,” Fort Hood officials said.
Coordination has been established with the Armed Forces Medical Examiner Services, who will assist with dental x-rays and DNA for the identification of remains by the Southwest Institute of Forensic Science in Dallas, according to the CID.
“There is still a lot of investigative work to do and we ask for the patience of the public and the media,” said Gray.
Stars and Stripes staff member Kat Bouza contributed to this report.