FORT HOOD, Texas – U.S. Army officials said Thursday that a criminal investigation has not found any link between Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillen’s disappearance and sexual harassment allegations.
Fort Hood Senior Commander, Maj. Gen. Scott Efflandt said, “events in the last 72 hours have produced significant information, allowing us to better understand the disappearance of Specialist Vanessa Guillen.”
Efllandt said in the last three days that human remains have been found, there has been an “arrest of a person from the local community and the suicide of a solider in Killeen who was pending apprehension.”
However, Efllandt said the remains that were discovered have not yet been positively identified.
“When we have the DNA analysis, we will share it,” he said.
“There is other evidence relevant to this case that helps shed light on Vanessa’s disappearance,” said Efllandt, but he did not elaborate on the evidence details.
He said that “the criminal investigation has not found any connection between sexual harassment and Vanessa’s disappearance.” He also made it clear that the allegations are still being investigated thoroughly “as they are in every other instance.”
During the conference, Efflandt said, as a point of transparency, that he requested an independent review to examine the visitation program at Fort Hood and assess whether the command climate is supportive of soldiers reporting instances of sexual harassment and sexual assault.
Criminal Investigation Division special agent Damon Phelps also spoke during the press conference. He said that the Guillen family has been briefed as much as possible on details “that we can share,” citing the ongoing investigation as a reason officials can’t share everything.
This is in stark contrast to a claim made Wednesday by Natalie Khawam, Guillen’s family’s attorney, that the family hears updates on the case from news outlets.
Phelps said he was limited on what he can confirm because the investigation is still active and ongoing but noted that two suspects had been identified in connection with Guillen’s disappearance. This, again, contradicted Kahwam’s understanding that “there are two suspects in custody and one killed himself.”
The man who killed himself has been identified as 20-year-old Specialist Aaron David Robinson. He shot himself in Killeen on Tuesday when approached by law enforcement, officials said.
Phelps said Robinson was not Guillen’s superior despite widespread rumors.
“We are still investigating their interactions, but at this time, there is no credible information or reports that Specialist Robinson sexually harassed specialist Guillen,” Phelps said.
The other suspect is an estranged wife of a former Fort Hood soldier who is currently in custody in Bell County Jail awaiting charges by civil authorities, according to Phelps.
Regarding the Guillen family’s claims that Vanessa was sexually harassed, Phelps said, “We have no credible reports or information that Vanessa Guillen was sexually assaulted. We are not aware of any official reports of sexual harassment for Specialist Guillen or any other soldier on her behalf.”
During the investigation, CID agents said they discovered a statement made by Guillen on May 7 that could be considered potential sexual harassment, but no information has been corroborated.
Phelps made clear that Specialist Robinson was not involved in the sexual harassment allegations and said that there has been no evidence that a non-commissioned officer walked in on Guillen while she was showering -- another claim Kahwam made Wednesday.
“I cannot refute the families suffering in this instance, and there’s nothing more important than the safety of our soldiers,” said Efflandt.
The attorney for Vanessa Guillen’s family said that human remains found Tuesday near the Leon River in Bell County are believed to be Guillen’s and that her death was a result of sexual harassment in the military. Military officials did not confirm those claims.
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