A soldier allegedly took his own life Tuesday in Killeen, Texas, after law enforcement attempted to make contact with him in the case of missing Fort Hood soldier Pfc. Vanessa Guillen.
Another suspect, a civilian woman whom authorities said was the estranged wife of a former Fort Hood soldier, is currently in custody at Bell County Jail awaiting charges. She was arrested by Texas Rangers in connection with the disappearance of Guillen.
Army CID announced that there were suspects a day after they found partial human remains that have yet to be positively identified about 30 miles from Fort Hood along the Leon River.
The name of the deceased soldier is being withheld by agents pending the notification of next of kin, according to Army CID spokesman Chris Grey, who asked for the public’s patience in waiting for more information.
“There are obviously pieces of information and evidence that cannot be shared with the public during an active criminal investigation,” Grey said. “Doing so can seriously jeopardize the charging and successful prosecution of individuals. When important investigative information is prematurely released, criminals can and will destroy evidence, conspire to change their stories, build false alibis, etc.”
The Guillen family and their attorney, Natalie Khawam, held a press conference in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday where Khawam said that they believe the remains recovered at the Leon River are those of Guillen.
Khawam said Guillen faced sexual harassment from her supervisor prior to her disappearance and reported it to her sisters, mother and other soldiers. Guillen never reported the allegations to her command. Guillen had alleged the harasser intentionally walked in on her while she was showering in a locker room and followed her when she was running for PT.
“She was afraid to [report it] because the sexual harassment was coming from her superiors, so her concern was the retaliation, being blackballed,” said Khawam. “We believe the person that killed her is that person that sexually harassed her.”
The 3rd Cavalry Regiment commander opened his own investigation into the sexual harassment allegations in mid-June, but Khawam is pushing for a congressional investigation into Guillen’s case.
“We deserve transparency and answers,” said Khawam, who added that the congressional investigation should encompass allegations of human trafficking at Fort Hood. “They falsely accounted for Vanessa at 3 p.m. on [the day she went missing]. … I want a congressional investigation to find out who lied and why.”
The 20-year-old Guillen was last seen on post at about 11:30 a.m. on April 22 in the parking lot of her Regimental Engineer Squadron Headquarters, under the 3rd Cavalry Regiment. Guillen was brought in to work, according to Khawam, despite it being a day off for her due to COVID-19 mitigation measures.
Guillen’s chain of command was also supposed to be conducting check-ins on soldiers as part of the COVID-19 precautions. Guillen was written down as accounted for during a 3 p.m. check-in despite going missing hours earlier.
Texas Rangers, Army CID and other agencies are still processing the scene at the Leon River where the partial human remains were discovered. The Armed Forces Medical Examiner is assisting the Southwest Institute of Forensic Science in Dallas with identifying the remains through dental X-rays and DNA.
“Sooner or later the truth will come out because we are not going to stop,” said Guillen’s older sister, Mayra, during the press conference in D.C. “We have to know everything.”
Kyle Rempfer is an editor and reporter who has covered combat operations, criminal cases, foreign military assistance and training accidents. Before entering journalism, Kyle served in U.S. Air Force Special Tactics and deployed in 2014 to Paktika Province, Afghanistan, and Baghdad, Iraq.