By ACACIA CORONADO Associated Press/Report for America
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Army investigators believe a Texas soldier missing since April was killed by another soldier on the Texas base where they served, the attorney for the missing soldier’s family said Thursday.
Lawyer Natalie Khawam said the U.S. Army Criminal Investigations Division told her that the other soldier bludgeoned 20-year-old soldier Vanessa Guillen with a hammer at Fort Hood and later dismembered her and buried the remains in the woods.
Khawam said she met with investigators from the U.S. Army Criminal Investigations Division on Wednesday evening and was told the other soldier cleaned up the area where Guillen was killed, placed her body in a container and wheeled her out to his car.
“The whole thing is devastating, gruesome, barbaric,” Khawam said.
The Army said Wednesday that a soldier who was suspected in Guillen’s disappearance had killed himself. The Army also said a civilian suspect had been arrested.
In a press conference Thursday, the Army identified the soldier suspected in Guillen’s disappearance as Aaron David Robinson, of Calumet City, Illinois, a Chicago suburb on the Indiana border. The civilian suspect was not named.
Army investigators declined to comment further on the details of Guillen’s case, saying they did not want to compromise the ongoing investigation.
The Army CID said human remains were found Tuesday near the Leon River in Bell County, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) east of Fort Hood, the search for Guillen. The family said through Khawam that they believe evidence shows the remains are Guillen, but the Army says it is still awaiting positive identification.
Khawam said the Army CID told her that after the soldier killed Guillen, he drove to pick up a woman and then they took the body to a nearby river. There, Khawam said, the pair tried to burn Guillen’s, but later dismembered it with a machete. Then, they put cement on the body and buried the remains.
Tim Miller, of Texas Equusearch, who was assisting in the search for Guillen, told KHOU that investigators found a lid last week that belonged to a container consistent with one a witness saw loaded into a car at 8:30 the night Guillen disappeared.
Investigators were called back to the scene this week when a man working in the area reported a foul odor. Miller said it appeared the suspect “buried her, put lime on her, mixed up concrete, put that over her, put dirt over her, rocks and stuff.”
The family had said they believe Guillen was sexually harassed by the military suspect and is calling for a congressional investigation, Khawam said Wednesday.
Army investigators said Thursday that they had no credible evidence that Guillen had been sexually harassed or assaulted.
“We are still investigating their interactions but at this time there is no credible information for reports that specialist Robinson sexually harassed specialist Guillen,” said Fort Hood CID Special Agent Damon Phelps.
Guillen was last seen April 22 in a parking lot at Fort Hood. She was set to be promoted to specialist this month. Her car keys, barracks room key, ID card and wallet were found in the room where she was working the day she disappeared.
Acacia Coronado is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.