Fort Hood, Army mourns Spc. Vanessa Guillen
During an emotional message to the greater Fort Hood community, Maj. Gen. Scott Efflandt, deputy commanding general of III Corps and Fort Hood, confirmed the identification of remains found near Little River Academy, Texas, as Spc. Vanessa Guillen while addressing media members July 6 here.
“Sadly, I stand here to report that the search for Spc. Vanessa Guillen has resulted in the very outcome that I had prayed it would not have from the very beginning,” Efflandt said, expressing his condolences to her family and friends. “While searching for Vanessa, we had continued to investigate the circumstances that led to her disappearance. Each action was taken with a deliberate hope that we would find her alive and unharmed, and be able to return her to her family and friends.”
Fort Hood officials waited until positive identification was made through forensic testing before they concluded a two-month-long search for the missing 20-year-old Soldier and officially notified the next of kin, in accordance with Army Regulation 638-2.
“Our thoughts and prayers remain with Spc. Vanessa Guillen’s family, her friends, and fellow Soldiers as we grieve together in this tragedy,” Col. Ralph Overland, commander of the 3rd Cavalry Regiment and Guillen’s regimental commander, said. “Our loss of Vanessa Guillen has devastated us all and left a hole in our formation. Her fellow troopers in the 3rd Cavalry Regiment and units across Fort Hood remained concerned and committed to recovering Vanessa since the day she disappeared. Thousands have searched, dedicated to finding our Soldier because we never quit and we never leave a fallen comrade.”
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
When was the first report of Vanessa Guillén missing?
SPC Vanessa Guillen was reported missing to law enforcement on April 23, 2020, after leader checks in the barracks, immediate unit area, and attempts to contact her via phone failed to locate her.
What actions did the unit and Fort Hood take when SPC Guillen went missing?
The 3rd Cavalry Regiment and Fort Hood began searching for SPC Guillen after leaders determined she was not in the unit area and was not responding to phone calls. A full-scale search operation in the 3rd Cavalry Regiment footprint began immediately, and an entire search of all barracks, outbuildings, and motorpools was conducted. Search efforts by 3rd Cavalry Regiment Soldiers, supported by other units on Fort Hood, continued on ground, air, and water until June 30, 2020 and the discovery of SPC Guillen's remains by local law enforcement.
When did the unit contact SPC Guillen’s family?
3rd Cavalry Regiment Leaders made contact with SPC Guillen's family the evening of April 22, 2020, in an effort to locate her and determine if the Guillen Family had any information on SPC Guillen's whereabouts. 3rd Cavalry Regiment Leaders had additional phone conversations and met in person with members of the Guillen Family on April 23, 2020.
When did CID open and investigation?
CID opened its investigation on April 23, 2020, the day after her disappearance.
Did the Army put out and public announcements asking for help from the public?
Yes, Army CID disseminated the below press announcements with the help from the media:
April 25 - CID Issued Press Release Seeking Information from the Public
April 27 - CID Issued another Press Release Offering a $15,000 Reward
June 15 - CID Issued another Press Release Increasing the Reward to $25,000
Why are you not releasing any further details of the investigation?
It would be inappropriate for us to release any further information due to the ongoing investigation and the pending legal proceedings by the FBI and the Assistant U.S. Attorney in Texas.
Is the Army investigating the possibility that Vanessa Guillén may be the victim of sexual harassment?
The 3rd Cavalry Regiment at Fort Hood appointed an investigating team led by a senior Investigating Officer (IO) to conduct a commander’s investigation, referred to as an “Army Regulation 15-6 Investigation” into allegations that Vanessa Guillén was sexually harassed. An Army Regulation 15-6 investigation is the Army’s standard method of investigation and is used to collect and analyze facts and make recommendations based on those facts. The IO will gather the evidence, thoroughly and impartially consider it, and make findings and recommendations. Once the investigation is complete, the IO will present the findings and recommendations to the unit’s command for his review. Fort Hood units continue to aggressively search for Vanessa Guillén.
What is the difference in sexual assault and sexual harassment?
Sexual harassment is a form of verbal, non-verbal, or physical gender discrimination that involves unwelcomed sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature between the same or opposite genders and submission to, or rejection of, such conduct is used as a term or condition of employment (quid pro quo); a basis for employment decisions, (e.g., job advancement); or such conduct interferes with an individual’s work performance, or creates a hostile work environment.
Sexual Assault is intentional sexual contact characterized by the use of force, threats or intimidation, or abuse of authority when the victim does not, or cannot consent. The term includes a broad category of specific UCMJ offenses, e.g., sexual assault; aggravated sexual contact; abusive sexual contact; forcible sodomy; or attempts to commit these offenses.
Did CID contact the Guillen family during the investigation?
Special Agents from CID maintained continuous contact with the Guillen family throughout the investigation and ensured timely investigative updates were provided.
Did Army CID work with any other agencies during the investigation?
Agents conducted more than 300 interviews and worked very closely with numerous agencies throughout the investigation to include: the FBI, Killeen Police Department, Belton Police Department, Texas Rangers, U.S. Marshals and the Texas Department of Public Safety and others, logging more than 10,000 investigative man hours.
Why didn’t the Army hand over the investigation to the FBI as requested by the Guillen family?
Army CID was the lead investigative agency and conduct a myriad of investigations daily, around the world, and this investigation fell within CID’s jurisdiction. CID worked closely with numerous other investigative agencies and their cooperation brought an immense array of investigative capabilities, resources, and investigative power to this investigation.
CID Special Agents are highly-trained criminal investigators and are sworn Federal law enforcement officers with an outstanding reputation within the law enforcement profession.
CID agents are trained at the U.S. Army Military Police School, a Federal Law Enforcement accredited institution and many receive advance law enforcement training at the FBI National Academy, the Canadian Police College, the Defense Acquisition University, Scotland Yard, and at George Mason University where they can earn a Master’s Degree in Forensic Science.
CID investigations are routinely, and successfully, prosecuted in military and Federal judicial forums, as well as in state courts and foreign judicial venues across the globe.
How were SPC remains identified?
Using DNA samples, the remains were identified by the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.
Is it true the Guillen family was not notified by Army CID the day they found remains at the Leon River?
That is false. CID Special Agents contacted the family several times that day. First at 1:31 p.m. while on the way to the scene, again later in the day and that night when SPC Robinson reportedly took his own life.
Was SPC Guillen “off duty” at the time of her disappearance?
Our investigation thus far has determined that she was in an on-call status due to COVID-19. She was called the night before by supervisors and was instructed that she was needed to complete her arms room inventory because she was an essential Military Occupational Specialty. This is why she was in workout clothes, it was supposed to be a quick day to conduct the inventory.
Why did CID agents return to the Leon River where SPC Guillen’s remains were subsequently found?
Agents have returned to an area of interest close to the Leon River, Bell County, Texas for more investigative work in the search for SPC Vanessa Guillen. After receiving additional information, agents have discovered what has been described as partial human remains after analysis from a forensic anthropologist. Army CID agents are currently on scene with the Texas Rangers, the FBI and Bell County Sheriff's Department. No confirmation as to the identity of the remains has been made at this point and we ask for the media and public's understanding that the identification process can take time.
Due to the ongoing criminal investigation, no further information will be released at this time.
Is this case connected to the disappearance of PV2 Morales from Fort Hood?
We have no credible information or evidence the investigation into the disappearance of SPC Guillen is connected to the investigation into the death of PV2 Gregory Wedel-Morales, who was last seen on the night of Aug. 19, 2019 while driving his car in Killeen, Texas. His remains were recovered in Killeen on 19 June 2020.