Suspect in Vanessa Guillen missing soldier case took his own life


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US Army

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Vanessa Guillen, 20, disappeared from her base in the middle of the workday

A suspect in the case of a soldier who disappeared from her Texas army base in April took his own life as police were closing in, officials say.

Private First Class Vanessa Guillen, 20, was last seen on 22 April in a car park where she worked at Fort Hood.

The suspect was an active duty soldier. Another civilian suspect is in custody.

Earlier, the Army announced a tip led investigators to discover partial human remains in an “area of interest” in the search for Ms Guillen.

The suspect was a junior soldier at Fort Hood who had fled his post yesterday, according to the Army Criminal Investigation Command.

He “displayed a weapon and took his own life” when law enforcement officials attempted to make contact.

The second suspect, a civilian, who is the estranged wife of a former soldier at the base, is in custody and awaiting charges.

Speaking at a news conference in Washington DC on Wednesday, the family called for a congressional investigation into the Fort Hood base.

“They didn’t keep my sister safe,” Ms Guillen’s sister, Lupe Guillen, said. “How can this happen at a military base?”

Ms Guillen’s family has alleged that she had been harassed by someone within her unit, but officials have said they have no report to indicate she was sexually harassed or assaulted.

The 3rd Cavalry Regiment has launched a separate investigation regarding those claims.

Mayra Guillen, another sister, said she had encountered the suspect the day after the young soldier’s disappearance. “I met him not knowing he had something to do with it.”

An attorney for Ms Guillen’s family has also said that investigators informed them the remains may belong to the missing soldier, but forensic experts have not yet confirmed it.

Army spokesman Chris Grey said the partial remains were found in an “area of interest” agents had returned to in the search for Ms Guillen.

“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,” Mr Grey said.

Agents from the US Army Criminal Investigation Command, Texas Rangers, FBI and local police revisited the site, near the Leon River about 30 miles (48km) from Fort Hood due to a tip.

“After receiving additional information, agents have discovered what has been described as partial human remains after analysis from a forensic anthropologist.”

The remains were found in a shallow grave.

Ms Guillen, a small-arms repairer with the 3rd Cavalry Regiment, is originally from Houston, Texas – about 200 miles (320km) from Fort Hood.

After her disappearance around noon on 22 April, Ms Guillen’s car and barracks keys, ID card and wallet were found in the armoury room where she had been earlier that day.

Her disappearance prompted rallies in Fort Hood and her native Houston.

A Texas state legislator who has been working with Ms Guillen’s family told reporters last week Army officials suspected “foul play” in the case.

“The question is who, what and when,” the lawmaker, Sylvia Garcia, said. “And we’ve been reassured that they’re going to do everything they can, they will leave no stone unturned until they find Vanessa.”

The Army Criminal Investigation Command had increased the reward for information concerning her disappearance to $25,000 (£20,000) earlier this month.



BBC