A suspect in the disappearance of a 20-year-old Fort Hood soldier killed himself as law enforcement approached Tuesday night and a second person, a civilian, is now in the custody of the Texas Rangers and awaiting charges as the investigation into human remains found on the post continues, officials with the base say.
The unnamed soldier, officials said, was wanted in connection with the disappearance of Pfc. Vanessa Guillen, who was last seen April 22 in a parking lot outside her Regimental Engineer Squadron Headquarters. Her car keys, barracks room key, ID card and wallet were found in the room where she was working the day she disappeared.
Wednesday morning, officials at the Fort Hood confirmed they were attempting to locate an unnamed junior soldier who left the post late Tuesday and that as law enforcement officers approached him he reportedly pulled out a gun and killed himself.
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Officials at the post said the name of the deceased soldier will be released after his next of kin have been notified of his death. The civilian arrested, who has also not yet been named, is the estranged wife of a former Fort Hood soldier and is currently in custody in the Bell County Jail awaiting charges by civilian authorities.
Meanwhile, the Texas Rangers and the Army Criminal Investigation Division continue to process a scene at the Leon River in Bell County where partial human remains were discovered Tuesday during the search for Guillen.
Though positive identification of the remains is pending, Guillen's family said Wednesday morning at a news conference in Washington D.C. they believe the remains are their missing family member. Officials said the Armed Forces Medical Examiner Services will work with the Southwest Institute of Forensic Science in Dallas to identify the remains.
Attorney Natalie Kahwam joined U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and Guillen's family at the news conference Wednesday morning pleading for information from investigators while questioning the support Guillen received from superiors at the post after reporting allegations of sexual harassment.
Guillen’s sister, Lupe, lashed out at Army officials during a press conference Wednesday morning.
“They lied to us every single time,” she said. “My mother’s in bed with pills. My mother doesn’t deserve this! I don’t deserve this! My family doesn’t deserve this! Vanessa Guillen did not deserve this!”
Guillen’s family claims the Army treated sexual harassment as a "joke."
“My sister’s no joke,” Guillen said. “My sister’s a human being! And I want justice! I want answers!”
“We have made significant progress in this tragic situation and are doing everything possible to get to the truth and bring answers to the family of Pfc. Vanessa Guillen,” Chris Grey, the spokesman for Army CID, said in a statement Wednesday.
According to CID officials, this is still an open and ongoing criminal investigation and no other information is expected to be released Wednesday.
“There is still a lot of investigative work to be done and we ask for the public and media’s patience,” Grey said. “There are obviously pieces of information and evidence that cannot be shared with the public during an active criminal investigation. 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.”
Late Wednesday afternoon, the Mexican American Legislative Caucus of the Texas House of Representatives announced on Twitter that over 50 bipartisan Texas legislators are calling for a congressional investigation into Guillen’s disappearance and increased transparency from Army officials.
The Army CID and the League of United Latin American Citizens have combined to offer a $50,000 reward for information leading to the soldier's whereabouts.
The Army Criminal Investigation Command has been working closely with multiple law enforcement agencies throughout this investigation to include the FBI, Belton Police Department, Bell County Sheriff’s Department, the United States Marshals Service, the Texas Rangers and the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Persons with information can contact Army CID Special Agents at 254-287-2722 or the Military Police Desk at 254-288-1170. They can also anonymously submit information at https://www.cid.army.mil/report-a-crime.html. People wishing to remain anonymous will be honored to the degree allowable under the law and the information will be held in the strictest confidence allowable.
SUICIDE PREVENTION HELP: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255) is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.