What happened to Vanessa Guillen? Were her remains found?
Over two months ago, 20-year-old Vanessa Guillen vanished from Texas’s Fort Hood military base. A press release from the military base revealed that she was last seen alive on April 22, in the Fort Hood barracks parking lot.
Many have expressed outrage & unrest concerning her disappearance, hashtags #FindVanessaGuillen, #IAmVanessaGuillen, & #WeAreVanessaGuillen are spreading in order to draw attention to her case. However, recent news has unearthed more about the fate of Vanessa Guillen and the circumstances surrounding her disappearance & death.
On July 3rd, the Army reported that Vanessa Guillen’s remains were found near the Leon River, just east of where she went missing. The Army confirmed that the bones, hair, & other remains found belonged to Guillen. Leader of Guillen’s search & rescue party Tim Miller concludes that with the discovered remains he’s, “confident to say the search for Vanessa is now over.”
The human remains of Guillen were not easy to identify at first due to the horrific damage done to her face. Graphic details of Guillen’s murder have been unveiled – Guillen’s family attorney reporting that Guillen was “bludgeoned to death with a hammer in the armory room where she worked.” Following this, her body was transported from this location and discarded.
The events that lead to this tragic incident are still unclear, but Guillen’s reported experience with sexual harassment in the Army points to suspects who likely had involvement in her death.
According to Guillen’s family, she had been a target of persistent sexual harassment that took place long before her disappearance. Guillen shared her experience with her mother, friends, & fellow service members but she had yet to file a formal complaint. Guillen’s sister explains what gave her pause:
“My sister was too afraid to report the harassment because no one would listen to her just like the other girls from #iamvanessaguillen. They take the sexual harassment, the sexual assault, as a joke. They don’t care.”
Despite Guillen’s struggle to come forward to the Army officially, according to her family Guillen was about to file a harassment complaint against 20-year-old Aaron David Robinson the day after she was killed. The family believes Robinson reacted angrily when Guillen told him her plans.
Robinson, a 20-year-old active duty soldier at Fort Hood, is of course a main suspect in the case. However, Robinson recently committed suicide, shooting himself when confronted by investigators, according to the Killeen Police Department.
Investigators have identified another suspect in the case, 22-year-old Cecily Aguilar, who was supposedly called by Robinson to help dispose of Guillen’s body. Aguilar is apparently an estranged wife of a former soldier from Fort Hood and may have been having an affair with Robinson. She was arrested & charged with one count of conspiracy to tamper with evidence.
Heartbroken & frustrated, Vanessa Guillen’s family is processing their great loss, saying, “We are at a loss for words. This should never have happened. Our country has lost a beautiful young soldier because the system is broken.”
With the news of Guillen’s story spreading, Guillen’s family is not alone in the mourning process. In major Texas cities, protesters flooded the streets over the weekend, lighting candles, waving Mexican flags, and bearing signs saying, “Justice for Vanessa.” Enormous pain is felt by those coping with the news of Guillen’s violent death.
Guillen will serve as an example of injustice & abuse women face every day – her tragic story heard loud and clear across the nation. As Guillen’s lawyer expresses: “If this could happen to Vanessa, this can happen to any one of our sisters, daughters, and mothers.”