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Human Remains Found Amid Search For Missing Soldier Vanessa Guillen

A lawyer for the family has said that they will be demanding a congressional investigation into the military’s handling of Vanessa Guillen’s case.

By Sharon Lynn Pruitt
Pfc. Vanessa Guillen Goes Missing From Texas Military Base

The search for missing Texas soldier Vanessa Guillen may have taken a tragic turn with the discovery of what her family believes are her remains.

Vanessa Guillen, a soldier stationed at Fort Hood, vanished in April, prompting outcry from her loved ones and the community. On Tuesday, authorities discovered partial human remains buried in a shallow grave in an area near the Leon River, Bell County, Texas, that was previously identified as a place of interest in the case, the US Army Criminal Investigation Command said, according to CNN.

While the remains have not yet been positively identified, and the process may take some time, the search for Guillen has been suspended, the outlet reports. An attorney for Guillen’s family said at a press conference Wednesday that they “believe that her remains were found,” Yahoo! News reports.

Guillen, 20, was last seen alive on April 22 in the parking lot of the building where she’d been working earlier that day, the Fort Hood Press Center said in a press release in April. Her wallet and identification card had been left behind, in addition to the keys to her car and barracks room.

Vanessa Guillen

The discovery of the remains comes after authorities stated that they do believe that foul play was involved in Guillen’s disappearance. While a suspect in the case has not been officially named, the Killeen Police Department confirmed in a release this week that a suspect involved in a case centered around Fort Hood had been located and then took their own life on Wednesday morning when faced by police. That man was a junior soldier at Fort Hood, CBSDFW reports.

A second suspect in the case, this one a civilian, has also been arrested; the unnamed woman is the estranged wife of a former soldier at Fort Hood, according to the outlet.

In a statement released Wednesday, army officials said that they are still processing the scene where the remains were found.

“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, spokesperson for Army CID, said.

Prior to her disappearance, Guillen had confided in her mother that she was being sexually harassed by a sergeant and no longer felt safe on the base. The family has maintained that military officials did not take their concerns seriously after Guillen disappeared.

During Wednesday’s press conference, the Guillen family’s lawyer lambasted the military for their handling of the case, calling their conduct “unacceptable.”

“This should never have happened, and we will never know what happened ever until we get a congressional investigation, because everything we were given were lies. It was evasive. They were not sincere, they were actually very disingenuous,” attorney Natalie Kahwam said. “I don’t know who’s covering up for who but it doesn’t matter. We lost a life, a beautiful, young soldier, and it’s time we fix our system [...] Women should not be afraid to come forth about sexual harassment."

The base where Guillen worked has been plagued with controversy in the past. Fort Hood was previously the center of a prostitution scandal, according to local outlet KCENTV. The remains of another missing soldier, Gregory Wedel-Morales, were also discovered last month, KTRK reports. However, it is currently unclear if the two cases are linked.