Investigators with the U.S. Army have publicly identified the deceased suspect in the disappearance of soldier Vanessa Guillen, who went missing from Fort Hood on April 22. In a press conference Thursday afternoon, they said he was Specialist Aaron David Robinson. This was the person who died by suicide early Wednesday morning when police in Killeen, Texas confronted him.
On one hand, the press conference didn’t reveal a lot of details. Attorney Natalie Kahwam, a lawyer for Guillen’s family, previously identified Robinson. Fort Hood Senior Commander Major General Scott Efflandt reiterated that the remains recently found by a river in Leon County, Texas have yet to be formally identified (it’s widely feared that these remains belong to Guillen). Criminal Investigation Command Special Agent Damon Phelps told reporters that there’s only so much information that they could release because doing so might tip off possible co-conspirators. With that in mind, however, authorities said they’ve only found two suspects: Robinson, and the estranged wife of a former Fort Hood soldier.
On the other hand, however, the press conference was marked by well publicized criticism from the family, and widespread attention on the case from social media users. Phelps said it was “troubling and irresponsible” that other soldiers’ names have been put on social media sites as being involved, and he said there’s no credible evidence leading to them.
Guillen’s family has ripped into the Army, suggesting the military failed to protect their loved one—and then some.
“They falsely accounted for her at 3 p.m. the day she disappeared,” said Kahwam in a press conference on Wednesday, according to CBSDFW. “What is the cover up for? She was a soldier. Why aren’t they transparent with the family? This was mishandled from the start. It has to be investigated.”
The attorney said she learned about two previous allegations in which a superior walked in on Guillen showering, and another one pelting her with obscene statements in Spanish.
“The facts aren’t good,” Khawam told ABC 13 in a Tuesday report. “I don’t like them. There were a few incidents where she had told her colleagues, her friends, her family about being sexually harassed but she was afraid to report it. How does someone disappear on a base that has more protection and safeguards than anyone else on the planet?”
In the family’s press conference on Wednesday, Guillen’s sister Mayra Guillen said she actually met Robinson before.
“He had the nerve to laugh in my face and apparently now he kills himself,” she said. “Why? I don’t know, but whoever is responsible has to pay.”
Efflandt and Phelps said during the press conference on Thursday that investigators were transparent and remain in contacted with Guillen’s family from the beginning of the CID investigation on April 23. The major general voiced sympathy for the relatives, and said he didn’t refute how they felt. Nonetheless, authorities defended the thoroughness and integrity of their investigation.
As for Robinson, his link to Guillen is still being looked into. Phelps denied a social media claim that the suspect was, in any way a superior officer to her. He said there’s no credible information that Robinson sexually harassed Guillen, or was the officer who allegedly walked in on her showering. Efflandt said they have not found a connection between the alleged harassment and the disappearance, but are taking the harassment claims seriously because such behavior is “categorically adverse to Army values.”
The investigation into Guillen’s disappearance continues. The Army said that the living suspect is in jail awaiting charges from civilian authorities.
[Image of Guillen via U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command]
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