Vanessa Guillen case: 1 in custody, 1 person of interest dead by suicide, family of missing Fort Hood soldier says

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Wednesday, July 1, 2020
Guillen's family believes dead suspect tied to disappearance
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH: Hit play to hear what the family of Army soldier Vanessa Guillen said about a person of interest who committed suicide and how that may be tied to Guillen's sexual harassment allegations.

WASHINGTON -- The family of Army soldier Vanessa Guillen believes the person of interest who died by suicide Wednesday morning when confronted by investigators in Killeen, Texas, is tied to her disappearance.

At a press conference Wednesday, Guillen family attorney Natalie Khawam made the connection while blasting the U.S. Army for its handling of the case.

"We lost a life. We lost a beautiful young soldier," Khawam said. "Enough is enough."

The event comes on the day after human remains were found in central Texas during a search for Guillen. Guillen's family believes the remains belong to her.

Guillen's sister, Mayra, said she met the person of interest, but didn't elaborate on his identity.

"I met him not knowing that he had something to do with it," Mayra Guillen said. "I felt something was telling me that he did something and I wasn't wrong apparently. He still had the nerve that day to laugh in my face. And apparently now, he kills himself. Why? I don't know. But whoever is responsible has to pay and we demand a Congressional investigation."

A civilian was also in custody related to the case and the person of interest who died by suicide had fled the Army post on foot before authorities found him in Killeen.

As the family spoke in Washington, the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command released a statement:

"The person who took his own life earlier today in Killeen after being sought by Killeen police and federal marshals was a soldier from Fort Hood and had fled the base earlier in the day. A civilian has been arrested in connection with Vanessa Guillen's disappearance. The civilian suspect is the estranged wife of a former Fort Hood Soldier and is currently in custody in the Bell County Jail awaiting charges by civilian authorities."

Guillen reported that she was the victim of sexual harassment prior to her disappearance.

Family says Fort Hood soldier made sexual harassment claim before disappearance

Family of Vanessa Guillen said she confided in them about two sexual harassment incidents before she went missing. Here's what they said happened.

"We stand here for justice. We stand here for Vanessa," Khawan said. "We stand here for every service member who suffered harassment and didn't feel safe reporting it."

Vanessa's younger sister, Lupe, accused the Army of covering up the case as the search continued.

"They lied to our faces every single day," Lupe Guillen said. "How can this happen on a military base while she was on duty?"

Texas EquuSearch founder Tim Miller told ABC13 on Sunday, "The search for Vanessa is now over."

As family members gathered in Washington, investigators in Killeen are looking for answers after a person of interest in a Fort Hood case died by suicide Wednesday morning when authorities tried to make contact with them.

Army authorities have not said if that person of interest was related to Guilen's case or another open investigation despite the family's claim.

The Army CID issued the following statement:

"Due to extensive investigative work conducted by Special Agents from the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, agents have returned to an area of interest close to the Leon River, Bell County, Texas for more investigative work in the search for PFC Vanessa Guillen. After receiving additional information, agents have discovered what has been described as partial human remains after analysis from a forensic anthropologist. Army CID agents are currently on scene with the Texas Rangers, the FBI and Bell County Sheriff's Department. No confirmation as to the identity of the remains has been made at this point and we ask for the media and public's understanding that the identification process can take time. Due to the ongoing criminal investigation, no further information will be released at this time."

Guillen, who is from Houston, had been missing since April 22.

Miller had been involved with the search during recent weeks. He said the remains were found very close to where they discovered evidence last week in the Leon River. He described the discovery as a "shallow grave."

"It's believed to be her ... pending positive identification which that will have to be determined by the medical examiner's office, but I'm confident to say the search for Vanessa is now over," said Miller.

Last week, they said foul play was suspected in Guillen's disappearance.

Guillen grew up in southeast Houston, graduated from Cesar Chavez High School, played soccer, and loves the Puerto Rican singer Bad Bunny.

Guillen was last seen on April 22 at 1 p.m. in the parking lot of her Regimental Engineer Squadron Headquarters, 3rd Cavalry Regiment.

Her car keys, barracks room key, ID and wallet were found in the armory room where she was working earlier in the day, but her cell phone has not been recovered.

Attorney Natalie Khawam said she's discovered at least two alleged incidents of sexual harassment -- a superior walking in on Guillen showering and another verbally assaulting her with vulgar remarks in Spanish. Khawam said she's worried about how this case might turn out. She said Guillen told loved ones she didn't want to report the sexual harassment out of fear of retaliation.

"The facts aren't good. I don't like them," said Khawam. "There were a few incidents where she had told her colleagues, her friends, her family about being sexually harassed but she was afraid to report it. How does someone disappear on a base that has more protection and safeguards than anyone else on the planet?"

The Army's Criminal Investigation Command launched an investigation into allegations that Guillen was sexually harassed.

"I opened an investigation concerning the information provided by the Guillen Family that Pfc. Vanessa Guillen was harassed prior to her disappearance," said Commander of the 3rd Cavalry Regiment Col. Ralph Overland. "I take allegations of sexual harassment very seriously and we are conducting a thorough investigation."


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