Army names dead suspect in the case of Vanessa Guillen, missing Fort Hood soldier

U.S. Army officials on Thursday identified a dead suspect in the disappearance of Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillen.

E-4 Specialist Aaron David Robinson was a suspect in Guillen’s disappearance, Damon Phelps of the CID, the Army’s primary criminal investigative organization, said at a press conference Thursday. Robinson died by suicide early Wednesday morning after he fled Fort Hood late Tuesday night.

“While law enforcement agencies attempted to make contact with the suspect in Killeen, Texas, Specialist Robinson reportedly displayed a weapon and took his own life,” said Phelps.

The announcement comes a day after Natalie Khawam, attorney for the Guillen family, said they believe that her remains were found. The Army said it found partial human remains, which have not been identified yet, during a search for the missing soldier in Texas on Tuesday night. The finding comes days after investigators said they suspected foul play related to Guillen’s disappearance.

Phelps denied allegations that Robinson was Guillen’s superior, adding he was in “no way” in Guillen’s line of command. However, they were coworkers, he said.

Robinson is one of two suspects in Guillen’s disappearance, Phelps said. The second suspect is a civilian described as “the estranged wife of a former Fort Hood Soldier” who is currently in custody at the Bell County Jail awaiting charges by civilian authorities, the Army said.

“Because she is a civilian and in the custody of local authorities, Army CID will not be releasing any further information concerning her or her status at this time,” said Phelps.

The Army said Wednesday they promoted Private First Class Guillen, 20, to specialist due to her time in service.

Vanessa Guillen
Vanessa GuillenUnited States Army

Guillen was last seen at a parking lot in Fort Hood, where she was stationed, on April 22. Officials said that “her car keys, barracks room key, identification card and wallet” were found in the armory room where she was working on the day she disappeared.

On June 15, the Army raised the reward to $25,000 for anyone with information leading up to Guillen’s whereabouts. The League of United Latin American Citizens, the nation’s oldest Latino civil rights organization that has been helping the Guillen family, added an additional $25,000 to the reward the following day. Two days later, the military opened up a separate inquiry looking into allegations that Guillen was sexually harassed by a supervisor.

Khawam said Guillen reported her harassment to her family and fellow soldiers at the base.

Phelps said the Army still has no credible information or reports that Guillen was sexually assaulted.

Guillen’s sister, Mayra, previously told NBC’s “Dateline” that Guillen never identified the person who allegedly harassed her and never reported the incidents to the Army’s sexual harassment and prevention program.

Robinson was a suspect in Guillen’s disappearance, but he “was not involved” in the separate investigation looking into the sexual harassment allegations, said Phelps.

After the sexual harassment reports surfaced, many service members have used the hashtag #IAmVanessaGuillen to share their experiences with sexual assault and harassment on social media.

Sexual assault in the U.S. military has increased over the past two years, according to a report from the Defense Department.

Maj. Gen. Scott Efflandt, III Corps deputy commanding general, announced during the press conference that the Inspector General’s Office will examine the implementation of Fort Hood’s sexual harassment and prevention program, assess whether the “command climate” is supportive of soldiers reporting sexual assault or harassment and “identify any potential systemic issues.”

Authorities said the investigation on Guillen’s disappearance remains ongoing and that they will continue to be careful about the information being shared in order to avoid “an impact on prosecution and charges.”

Per: NBC

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