July 7 (UPI) – Human remains found in Texas last week belong to missing US soldier Vanessa Guillen, military officials confirmed as politicians demanded the Pentagon’s watchdog launch an independent investigation into the woman’s death while calling for military reforms.
Maj. Gen. Scott Efflandt told reporters at a press conference on Monday that the military’s forensic examiner determined by DNA analysis that the human remains found Tuesday near the Leon River in County Bell belonged to Guillen, missing from the nearby Fort Hood military base. half April.
“There are no words to convey the feeling of loss to my family, friends and comrades-in-arms that I feel during this extremely difficult time,” he said. “We all feel her loss, the loss of a dynamic young woman who bravely volunteered to serve her country, the loss of a talented soldier, the loss of a loving family member and the loss of a friend with a bright future ahead of her. ” “
The announcement came after Natalie Khawam, the lawyer for the Guillen family, said Sunday evening that the military had confirmed to him on Friday that the bones, hair and other remains found near the base belonged to Guillen.
Efflandt said that Guillen’s family had been informed on Sunday and that the military would assist the US district attorney in their investigation and that they would complete their own investigation into the sexual harassment linked to the death and disappearance of Guillen.
“Anyone who raises their right hand to serve their family and their country in uniform deserves to be safe and treated with dignity and respect,” he said.
Guillen, 20, was last seen on April 22 in the parking lot of his regimental engineer squadron headquarters at Fort Hood, and was missing the following day, prompting research that led to the discovery of his remains last week.
The Army Criminal Investigation Command identified the SPC. Aaron David Robinson as a suspect in the case who died by suicide Wednesday as law enforcement attempted to contact him.
A second suspect, Cecily Aguilar, 22, was arrested for accusing Robinson, her boyfriend, of dismembering Guillen’s body and then burying him in three different places.
The affidavit indicates that Robinson clubbed Guillen to death with a hammer on April 22 in the gun shop where she worked before contacting Aguilar to help dispose of the body.
Guillen’s family said that Robinson had sexually harassed Guillen but they were afraid to file a formal complaint.
Eighty-seven members of Congress signed on Monday a letter dated Monday by Representative Sylvia Garcia supporting the call of Representative Jackie Speier and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand to the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Defense to conduct “a complete and independent investigation” into the disappearance and death of Guillen .
“Prior to her disappearance and murder, CPS. Guillen told her family that she did not feel safe at Fort Hood due to experiences of sexual harassment, which she did not report for personal safety” Garcia wrote in the letter. “The United States military has a responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of young women and men who take an oath to defend our country. In the case of SPC. Guillen failed tragically by the military.”
According to a Pentagon report released in late April, reports of sexual assault increased 3% in 2019 from the previous year for a total of 7,825 complaints.
Garcia described sexual violence in the military as an “epidemic” that disproportionately affects women of color who are less likely to report assaults for fear of reprisals.
Texas Reps. Vicente Gonzalez and Filemon Vela have also published a joint statement Monday in support of a general investigation by the inspector, declaring that the army is “unable to control” itself while calling for civilian reform of the army.
“It is time to demand civilian oversight, accountability and reform,” said Gonzalez. “The SPC family. Vanessa Guillen and all those affected by these tragic events deserve more than our thoughts and prayers – they deserve action and answers.”
Aguilar also did its initial appearance Monday in court on charges of conspiracy to falsify evidence.