What to Know About Missing Soldier Vanessa Guillen
Twenty-year-old Guillen went missing from Fort Hood, Texas 63 days ago. Her mother and the world demand answers.
Vanessa Guillen — the 20-year-old soldier who disappeared from the military base at Fort Hood, Texas over two months ago — is still missing. While volunteers keep searching for the young soldier near the Leon River and the community protests over the lack of updates on the investigation, her family — and the rest of the world — is demanding answers. Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia met with Fort Hood officials Tuesday morning to discuss the latest details on the search for Guillen. Garcia and Guillen's family addressed the public in a news conference.
Garcia says investigators suspect foul play in this case. “We have a young woman who served our country, who went missing at work," attorney Natalie Khawam, who represents Guillen's family, said. "A lot of it doesn't connect. Was there breach of protocol? Someone covering for another person?" the lawyer asked during the press conference today. "We want answers." Vanessa's mother was also present at the conference, and said she was deeply disappointed at how Army authorities had handled the investigation of her daughter's disappearance. "I am going to demand a congressional investigation for this family," the lawyer said. "This can't happen to one of our soldiers."
Celebrities like actress Salma Hayek have also been touched by this case. Hayek has been posting about the soldier on Instagram and vowed to continue doing so until Guillen is found.
Fort Hood Deputy Commander Major General Scott Efflandt asked the community for help in finding Guillen. "We want to bring Vanessa home as efficiently and as rapidly as possible. And toward that end, I'm asking for your assistance," Efflandt said in a video on Sunday. "We need to bring Vanessa back to her Army family and to bring her back to her family, and we won't stop this effort until we're successful."
Guillen's car keys, barracks room key, ID, and wallet were found in the armory room where she was working on the military base where she vanished on April 22. The U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command is offering a reward of up to $25,000 for anyone who gives information on her whereabouts. The national advocacy group League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) added another $25,000 to the reward, bringing the total to $50,000.
“Two months have passed and we know nothing, nothing, nothing. What’s happened? What happened on that base? Why did my daughter disappear?” Gloria Guillen, Vanessa’s mother, said during a virtual press conference. “I can’t bear anymore, not one day more because I’m not sleeping and I’m in bad health,” she added. “Where is my daughter?”
The Fort Hood military base has been under scrutiny after another soldier who went missing from the base was found dead. Authorities found the skeletal remains of private Gregory Morales — also known as Greg Wedel — in a field a few miles from Fort Hood after the army criminal investigators received a tip. He was last seen driving his black Kia Rio outside the army post in August 2019. According to reports, Morales was in the process of being discharged from the army and his death is being investigated.
Natalie Khawam, the attorney for Vanessa Guillen's family, revealed Guillen was sexually harassed at the base at least on two occasions. She says a superior walked in on the soldier while she was nude in the shower, and another higher-ranking official assaulted Guillen with vulgar remarks in Spanish. The lawyer said Vanessa told her loved ones that did not report the sexual assault because she feared retaliation.
If you have any information about the case or Vanessa Guillen, please call 254-495-7767. Anyone with information about the death of private Gregory Morales is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 254-526-8477.