Remains found are missing Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillen, family believes

Elizabeth Howe
July 01, 2020 - 11:41 am
Vanessa Guillen

US Army

By Elizabeth Howe and Abbie Bennett

The family and attorney of missing Fort Hood soldier Pfc. Vanessa Guillen believe remains found Tuesday are hers. A suspect in her disappearance died by suicide Wednesday morning, Army and law enforcement officials confirmed.

Unidentified human remains found during search for missing soldier Vanessa Guillen

"We believe that her remains were found. We believe the suspect had killed himself in the morning," family attorney Natalie Khawam said Wednesday morning at a press briefing in Washington, D.C.

"And that, unfortunately, doesn't provide us much information about how this happened. Why this happened. Why a beautiful young soldier is not with us today," Khawam added.

The Army's Criminal Investigation Command said in a statement Wednesday that when law enforcement "attempted to make contact" with the suspect -- a member of the military -- "the suspect reportedly displayed a weapon and took his own life."

Khawam said she obtained the suspect's name, Aaron Robinson, through a BOLO circulated by Fort Hood Tuesday night.

CID also said a civilian suspect was taken into custody, "the estranged wife of a former Fort Hood soldier."

Officials still are examining the human remains and have not officially identified them as belonging to Guillen, CID said Wednesday.

Before her disappearance, Guillen's family said she told them she was being sexually harassed by a soldier at Fort Hood. Army officials previously said they had "no credible information" about those allegations.

Now, Khawam, the Guillen family, and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, are calling for a Congressional investigation and a new policy in Guillen's name advocating for protection for service members from sexual harassment. 

Guillen's sister, Mayra Guillen, said during a press conference that she met the man suspected of sexually harassing Guillen. 

"When I first went to that base ... I met him. Not knowing that he had something to do with it, something was telling me that he did something. and I wasn't wrong apparently," Mayra said. "He still had the nerve that same day to laugh in my face, and apparently now he kills himself. Why I don't know. But whoever is responsible has to pay."

The family and Khawam suspect efforts were made by Fort Hood to conceal information. 

"They should be ashamed of themselves. Protocol was breached in every manner. We lost one of our own on our own base," Kahwam said. "Everything we were given was lies. It was evasive. They were very disingenuous to us. I don't know who's covering up for who but it doesn't matter."

"We stand here for Vanessa. We stand here for justice," Gabbard said. "We stand here for every other service member who has experienced sexual harassment or assault and did not feel safe reporting it out of fear of retaliation."

Guillen, 20, of Houston, has been missing since April 22. She was last seen in the parking lot of her Regimental Engineer Squadron Headquarters, 3rd Cavalry Regiment. Guillen's car keys, barracks' room key, ID and wallet were all found in the armory where she had been working earlier that day. 

Last week, officials said they suspected foul play in her disappearance. 

This is a developing story and will be updated as details become available.

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Reach Abbie Bennett: abbie@connectingvets.com or @AbbieRBennett.

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