Heather Osbourne, Austin American-Statesman
Published 12:00 a.m. ET July 3, 2020
Officials to discuss the latest findings in the search for Guillen and what the family intends to do moving forward.
KILLEEN, Texas — U.S. Army officials at Fort Hood on Thursday identified the soldier who killed himself this week after he was questioned about possible involvement in the disappearance of Spc. Vanessa Guillen.
Authorities said 20-year-old Spc. Aaron David Robinson of Illinois, who was assigned to a building adjacent to where Guillen worked, ran away from Fort Hood on Tuesday night after officials said they found partial human remains near the Leon River.
Local law enforcement later found Robinson in the 4700 block of East Rancier Avenue, east of Fort Hood near North Twin Creek Drive, where he pulled a gun and shot himself early Wednesday.
While Guillen’s family and their attorney, Natalie Khawam, say the remains found near the river are likely that of the missing soldier, U.S. Army officials at Fort Hood on Thursday said the remains had yet to be identified.
Missing soldier Vanessa Guillen: Remains were likely found, family says
Special Agent Damon Phelps with the Army Criminal Investigation Command said Thursday that a second suspect, a woman, also was arrested this week. He declined to release her name.
“Because she is a civilian in the custody of local authorities, Army CID will not be releasing any further information concerning her or her status at this time,” Phelps said, adding that no organization had yet been assigned to the woman’s case nor was anyone given the authority to release her name.
Army officials on Thursday would not say whether Robinson and the woman knew each other, citing an ongoing investigation. However, officials said the woman was a civilian and the estranged wife of a former Fort Hood soldier.
In a meeting with Army officials, Khawam said she was told Robinson and his married girlfriend were having an affair and that he called the woman to confess he had killed Guillen with a hammer, according to the Army Times.
Robinson and his girlfriend allegedly tried to destroy Guillen’s body, the attorney said.
“At first they tried to set her on fire, but she wouldn’t burn,” Khawam told Army Times. “Then they dismembered this beautiful U.S. soldier’s body with a machete. She needs to be brought to justice.”
Guillen, a 20-year-old Houston native who received her rank of specialist on Wednesday, was last seen between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. April 22 in the parking lot of the Regimental Engineer Squadron Headquarters at Fort Hood, officials said.
Guillen’s identification card, wallet and the keys to her car and post apartment were later found in the armory room where she had been earlier in the day.
Foul play suspected: Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillen’s disappearance
However, Army officials on Thursday would not release a timeline of the events before and after her disappearance, citing an active investigation. Officials also would not say whether Guillen’s supervisors tried to check in with her at any point during the day after she was suspected to have been abducted.
Guillen’s family has also alleged that she was sexually harassed by superiors at Fort Hood. Those claims even sparked a viral hashtag called #IamVanessaGuillen on social media, which many soldiers have used to share their stories of sexual harassment and assault on military installations.
Earlier this week, Khawam said a man at Fort Hood had walked in on Guillen while she was showering naked. Khawam said the family revealed those allegations to investigators late last month.
However, Phelps on Thursday said there is no evidence linking sexual harassment to Guillen’s disappearance.
Phelps said hundreds of acquaintances and friends were interviewed and “there is no allegation whatsoever that she’s been sexually assaulted or harassed and any hint of information that was sexual harassment was completely looked at without any credible information.”
In addition to finding remains at the Leon River, officials also recovered the remains of another Fort Hood soldier, Pvt. Gregory Morales, outside the post in Killeen last month.
The 24-year-old Morales, who also used the last name Wedel before his marriage, was last heard from on Aug. 20. He was scheduled to be discharged from the Army within a couple of days of his disappearance, Fort Hood officials have said.
Fort Hood officials suspected foul play in the disappearances of both Morales and Guillen, but said they did not believe they are linked.
Fort Hood is the largest active-duty armored unit post in the U.S. military, according to the post’s website. Nearly 40,000 infantrymen, cavalrymen, tankers, engineers, mechanics and health care professionals work at Fort Hood, which is nicknamed “Great Place.”
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