Texas police found a body on Tuesday believed to be that of missing Fort Hood soldier, Elder Fernandes.
At around 5:36 p.m. Tuesday evening, police responded to a call about a male near railroad tracks in Temple. When authorities arrived, they determined that the victim had been “deceased for some period of time.”
Family lawyer Natalie Kwaham said that the body is of Fernandes, although an official identification is pending. According to WBTV, investigators said that foul play is not suspected. The cause of death has not been determined.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Fernandes family during this challenging time,” Temple Police Chief Shawn Reynolds said.
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As CrimeOnline previously reported, Fernandes 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.
Fort Hood officials are now saying the soldier left voluntarily. According to a Fort Hood press statement, “fellow Soldiers indicate Sgt. Fernandes left on his own accord.”
Officials added that they do not suspect Elder’s case is connected to other ongoing Fort Hood cases. Fernandes is among 11 Fort Hood soldiers who have disappeared this year alone. At least five of the missing soldiers were found dead.
“There is no connection between the disappearance of Sgt. Fernandes and any other ongoing cases at Fort Hood. Sgt. Fernandes’ Leadership initiated a dialogue with his family before his current absence and will remain in contact with them in our efforts to find him,” officials said,
According to Kwaham, Fernandes was sexually assaulted at the base in April inside a supply room. Kwaham said that superior “grabbed Fernandes’s buttocks,” the Boston Globe reports.
The sexual abuse investigation was still an open case when Elder vanished.
“They are not there to be bullied or hazed, they are there to serve our country,” Kwaham said.
Fernandes, of Massachusetts, was assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division Sustainment Brigade, according to Fort Hood officials.
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]