Texas Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia held a Tuesday news conference at Fort Hood, after meeting with Army leaders to discuss plans on how to find missing soldier, Vanessa Guillen.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Guillen, 20, was reportedly last seen on April 22 at around 1 p.m. at the parking lot of the Regimental Engineer Squadron Headquarters, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, in Fort Hood, Texas. Guillen left behind her car keys, barracks room key, identification card, and wallet in the Arms room, where she works.
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Garcia, who was joined by Guillen’s mother, father and sisters, said that Army leaders now consider soldier’s disappearance foul play. Officials are currently investigating possible sexual harassment that occurred prior to the soldier’s disappearance.
“We don’t want just attention. We want action. We want answers,” Garcia said. “We’ve got to remember that this is a family that is hurting.”
Guillen’s mother, Gloria Guillen, gave an impassioned speech in Spanish on Tuesday. She appeared both angered and bewildered that her daughter could vanish from a military base. She claimed military officials hadn’t done enough to help find her daughter.
“This girl is my life. She’s my everything,” Gloria said. “I want my little girl back. For the love of God, help me.”
“I told them to search barrack by barrack and they never did it. I seek justice, that they respect Vanessa as a soldier, as someone who is serving this country…If my daughter appears dead, close this base immediately. I want her alive, for the love of God. Investigate from the top to the bottom, everyone is responsible.”
The Guillen family attorney, Natalie Kahwam, claimed that Fort Hood officials never told the family that Guillen had disappeared. The family reportedly had to call Fort Hood to tell them they had not heard from her.
On Monday, members of Texas Equusearch, along with Texas Rangers, U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division, and the Texas Game Wardens searched along the Leon River in Bell County for Guillen. Leon River is one of the closest bodies of waters to the base. Investigators said that tips led them to the location.
Sexual Assault Allegations
Earlier this month, CrimeOnline spoke with Gloria Guillen, who said her daughter confided in her before she disappeared. Guillen apparently didn’t feel safe at Fort Hood, in part due to a sergeant who Guillen said had been sexually harassing her.
“[Guillen] said it was stalking and verbal harassment. He would look at her some type of way that would make any woman feel uncomfortable,” Gloria Guillen, who speaks Spanish, said through her daughter, Mayra Guillen, who translated on her behalf.
Guillen told her mother that the unnamed sergeant would also follow her when she went jogging, something she did routinely to stay active. Gloria pushed for the sergeant’s name and wanted to report the incident but held off when Guillen promised her she would take care of it. A few weeks later, Guillen disappeared.
Guillen said she felt the base was “evil,” according to Gloria Guillen; she had trouble sleeping at night, something that never happened to her before. Guillen’s fear at the base was one of the reasons she didn’t want her mother to report the sergeant. She felt getting her mother too involved would lead to trouble for Gloria.
“She [Guillen] told her [Gloria] she wanted to take care of it. Well, now look at happened,” Mayra Guillen added, referencing her sister’s disappearance.
Gloria said she doesn’t trust the military investigators assigned to the case, who have allegedly refused to answer her questions.
“I feel there is a break in trust because me being her mother, I deserve to know, but they refuse to give me any details because it’s an ongoing investigation. What I don’t understand is how some information still reaches me but by word of mouth by soldiers. It’s not fair that they know and I don’t.”
Gloria is now pushing for the case to be given “fully to the FBI.”
Garcia previously announced via a Zoom meeting that her office requesting the assistance from the FBI. She also opened a congressional inquiry with the Department of Defense, NBC News reports.
“We need to get to the bottom of this,” García said, according to CBS News.
“We need to make sure that we look at every single complaint and every single allegation that is being made in this case and that we get to the bottom of it. Vanessa’s mom has made it clear that Vanessa has previously… expressed to her and her sister about not feeling safe on the base and that perhaps, being the victim of sexual assault on the base. This is very serious.”
Reward for Information
Earlier this month, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Domingo Garcia, announced that his organization would add an additional $25,000 reward, to go along with a previous $25,000 reward offered by the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command.
“This shouldn’t be happening,” Khawam told CBS News. “This is on a federal government base. A military base. There has to be more accountability. And [there are] more protections and safeguards than anywhere else.
“How can you not have these answers? The irony. You talk about all these gate checks and all these security checks… yet someone goes missing? This doesn’t happen. And the fact that, she wasn’t even supposed to be working that day. She was off that day. Why did they call her in?”
Rapper Baby Bash also offered $5,000, bringing the total amount to $55,000, according to NBC 6.
Guillen, who was born and raised in the Houston area, is described as a Hispanic female who stands 5 feet 2 inches tall, weighs 126 pounds, and has black hair and brown eyes. She has three tattoos: a cross with a flower and a flower, both on her left arm, and a mountain on her upper left shoulder. She also has a mole on the left side of her chin.
An eyewitness reportedly saw Vanessa near her barracks on the day she disappeared. She was wearing black Nike shoes, a black Nike shirt and purple leggings.
Family members said that Guillen not only loved to jog but has always been avid about sports and learning. She graduated in the top 15% of her high school class, where she played soccer and remained active with other physical activities.
Guillen had always dreamed of serving and protecting her country.
Anyone with any information on the missing soldier’s whereabouts is urged to contact the Army CID Special Agents at 254-495-7767 or the Military Police Desk at 254-287-4001.
Meanwhile, the family created a GoFundMe page to help raise money to hire a private investigator.
Check back for updates.
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[Feature Photo: Vanessa Guillen/Handout]