A Fort Hood soldier who disappeared last week had apparently filed a sexual abuse complaint before he vanished, according to officials.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Texas authorities are asking for the public to keep an eye out for Sgt. Elder Fernandes, 23. He was last seen on August 17, reportedly by his staff sergeant at Fort Hood, according to family and friends.
Fernandes’ aunt, Isabel Fernandes, said that the soldier’s car, keys, and belongings were left on base, ABC 13 reports.
“This is very, very unusual. He has been in touch with us since last week. I personally spoke to him Friday morning. He spoke with his mom this past Sunday and he promised he would call on Monday,” Isabel said.
“Monday came and went and he didn’t call, and he didn’t answer calls from anyone else. Tuesday, no calls and my sister ended up flying down there yesterday, and still we haven’t heard from him.”
According to Fort Hood’s public affairs officer, Lt. Col. Chris Brautigam, Elder was involved in an open sexual abuse investigation, although the details of the case are unclear.
“The unit sexual assault response coordinator has been working closely with Sgt. Fernandes, ensuring he was aware of all his reporting, care, and victim advocacy options,” Brautigam said in a statement.
Brautigan added that Fernandes was transferred to another unit “to ensure he received the proper care and ensure there were no opportunities for reprisals,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
Fernandes, of Massachusetts, is assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division Sustainment Brigade, per Fort Hood officials, who said finding the soldier is a top priority.
Fernandes is among 11 Fort Hood soldiers who have disappeared this year alone. At least five of the missing soldiers have been found dead, including Vanessa Guillen, 21.
Similar to Fernandes, Guillen also left her belongings on base. She was found deceased around two months after she vanished. Her remains were found in shallow graves near the Leon River.
Tim Miller and his Texas EquuSearch team have offered assistance in finding Fernandes.
Fernandes is a Hispanic male who stands 5-feet-4-inches tall and weighs around 133 pounds, according to the Killeen Police Department. He was last seen wearing black army shorts, a t-shirt, and red shoes.
“We are here all worried. He has a big family and we need to find him and we need to find him alive,” Isabel Fernandes said.
Anyone with information should contact the Fort Hood Military Police at (254) 288-1170, U.S. Army CID at (254) 287-2722, or the Killeen Police Department at (254) 200-7905.
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[Feature Photo: Sgt. Elder Fernandes/Fort Hood]