A 20-year-old Army private’s disappearance two months ago from one of the nation’s largest military bases has lawmakers and actress Salma Hayek calling for a better investigation.
Vanessa Guillen, 20 was reported missing to Army officials at Fort Hood by Houston family members on April 22 when they noticed the calls and texts were not going through to her cell phone. Her mother, Gloria Guillen, has said that her daughter complained of a sergeant sexually harassing her before the soldier went missing.
#BREAKING – The Army now suspects foul play in the disappearance of a 20-year-old Fort Hood soldier, a Fort Hood official said Tuesday after a meeting with the family of Pfc. Vanessa Guillen. https://t.co/tjufCZWvMz
— KWTX News 10 (@kwtx) June 23, 2020
An initial search found Guillen’s military ID, car keys and wallet were all found left behind on the base. Her car was found in a nearby parking lot. She was last seen wearing a black T-shirt, purple leggings and black Nike athletic shoes.
Before meeting with Fort Hood officials on Tuesday, an attorney for the family, Natalie Khawam, spoke to Texas Standard about how she believes someone on the base is involved in her disappearance.
“I suspect it’s somebody in her unit or that she’s worked with because she wasn’t seen leaving the base,” Khawam said. “So it had to have been someone on the base. And, you know, I’m hoping that that’s not what happened. But I have a feeling it is. I have a bad feeling that it’s somebody that harassed her and that probably didn’t like her disinterest.”
Khawam also confirmed that Guillen had complained to family members about sexual harassment on the base before her disappearance. But Guillen never reported the harassment to Army officials.
“She could have reported it … but as we understand, she did not want to report it. Her position was, she didn’t want to get in trouble,” Khawam said. “But she did inform her mother and her sisters and her friends about the harassment.”
Guillen’s older sister Mayra drove to Fort Hood from Houston after she and others noticed texts and phone calls were not going through to Guillen’s cell phone on April 22, Khawam said.
“They had not heard from her all day. And they had texted her and called her and she was not responding, which is unusual,” Khawam said. “She was also supposed to go out for a hike that morning. And the person that she was going to go hiking with also didn’t see her. Couldn’t find her.”
On Tuesday, Khawam and Guillen’s family, along with U.S. Rep. Sylvia Garcia, a Democrat from Houston, met with Fort Hood officials and investigators. While both Khawam and Garcia reported that the meeting was encouraging, they noted that the Army has now confirmed “foul play” was involved in Guillen’s disappearance. There have been no details on what that foul play entailed.
“I don’t wish this on anyone,” Mayra Guillen said, standing outside Fort Hood’s main gate following the meeting with Army officials. “I still don’t know why it’s taken six weeks … to take action. And it’s not fair.”
A reward totaling $55,000 has been offered for any information about Guillen’s disappearance. Those with information should call Fort Hood investigators at 254-495-7767.