KILLEEN, Texas - Fort Hood officials confirmed Monday evening that the remains found near the Leon River in Bell County were that of missing Spc. Vanessa Guillen.
Fort Hood Senior Commander, Maj. Gen. Scott Efflandt, III Corps deputy commanding general, and Col. Ralph Overland, 3rd Cavalry Regiment commander, both made statements to the press but declined to answer questions out of respect to the Guillen family.
“Sadly I stand here to report that the search for Spc. Vanessa Guillen has resulted in the very outcome that I had prayed it would not have from the very beginning,” said Efflandt.
Efflandt said in his statement that the U.S. Army will be moving forward and will honor and not forget Guillen and that they will also be assisting the U.S. Attorney with prosecuting those involved with her death.
Using DNA samples, the remains were identified by the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. Her family was notified Sunday.
According to court documents, Cecily Aguilar, 22, of Killeen told the FBI her boyfriend, Spc. Aaron David Robinson, a Fort Hood soldier, bludgeoned Guillen to death on April 22 in an arms room on base. Aguilar said she helped Robinson dismember, burn and hide Guillen’s remains.
Cecily Anne Aguilar (Bell County Sheriff's Office)
Aguilar was arrested last Wednesday for second-degree felony tampering/fabricating physical evidence with intent to impair a human corpse. Federal authorities have also filed a conspiracy to tamper with evidence charge. Officials say Aguilar is the estranged wife of a former Fort Hood soldier.
Robinson committed suicide Wednesday morning, as authorities closed in on him. Monday morning, Aguilar appeared before a judge via teleconference for the first time. Her preliminary hearing was set for July 14. During the hearing, bond will be set and it will be determined if her case proceeds to a federal grand jury.
Spc. Aaron David Robinson (Fort Hood)
“We’re now confronted with the most, the aftermath of one of most heinous acts I can imagine,” Efflandt said.
Guillen’s family and lawyer, Natalie Khawam say the 20-year-old Houston native was sexually harassed on post. They are calling for Congress to investigate the case and pass the #IAMVANESSAGUILLEN bill, which would put additional protections in place for victims of sexual harassment and assault in the military.
“U.S. soldiers should be protected inside that [post] and they failed,” said Aranda Sunday.
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On Monday, Efflandt did not acknowledge the family’s demands but said the Army is looking into the sexual harassment allegations. He also urged military victims of sexual assault to come forward. “Please know that every person who raises their right hand to serve their family and their country in uniform deserves to be safe," he said.
The Army recently sent an investigative team from outside Fort Hood to look into the Sexual Harassment Assault and Prevention, or SHARP training on post. Efflandt said the investigation is ongoing. “When a person of Vanessa’s character and caliber is ripped away I don’t think there’s any closure to something like that, but I know there is a tomorrow and that’s an opportunity to do what’s right for what Vanessa stood for," he said.
Her car keys, barracks room key, identification card, and wallet were later found in the armory room where she was working earlier in the day. She was last seen in the parking lot wearing a black t-shirt and purple fitness-type pants.
On June 30, partial human remains were found close to the Leon River in Bell County, an area of interest in the search for Guillen. More remains were found in another shallow grave on July 1. The remains were encased in a cement-like substance.
"We did have some cadaver dogs come out ... and we were able to recover what we believe are more possible human remains," said Major T.J. Cruz of the Bell County Sheriff's Office. "It's [the second grave] probably about four to six feet apart from what we recovered yesterday."
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.