Killing of Vanessa Guillén
Fort Hood census-designated place
|Location||Fort Hood, Texas|
|Date||April 22, 2020|
|Perpetrator||Aaron David Robinson|
Vanessa Guillén was a 20-year-old U.S. Army soldier who authorities believe was killed on April 22, 2020, inside a Fort Hood, Texas, armory by another enlisted soldier, Aaron David Robinson, age 20. Guillén had been missing since April 22 until dismembered pieces of her remains were found buried along the Leon River on June 30. Upon hearing about the discovery of the remains, Robinson fled Fort Hood and fatally shot himself shortly after midnight when law enforcement attempted to apprehend him in Killeen, Texas.
A local area woman who authorities said was Robinson's girlfriend was taken into custody and is alleged to have assisted Robinson in disposing of Guillén's body. On July 2, she was charged with one federal count of conspiracy to tamper with evidence. On July 10, 2020, the U.S. Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy announced that he would order a "full independent review" of Guillén's case.
- Vanessa Guillén, 20, was a soldier from Houston, Texas. She was born September 30, 1999, to parents Rogelio and Gloria Guillén and she had five siblings. According to her family, Guillén graduated from César E. Chávez High School in 2018 in the top 15% of her class, played soccer, loved to jog, and was avid about sports and learning. She had joined the Army in June 2018 and was trained as a 91F, small arms and artillery repairer. Guillén was posthumously advanced from private first class to the rank of specialist on July 1, 2020.
- Aaron David Robinson, 20, was a soldier from Calumet City, a southern suburb of Chicago, Illinois. Robinson had joined the Army in October 2017 and was trained as a combat engineer. He held the rank of specialist at the time of his death.
- Cecily Anne Aguilar, 22, described by authorities as the girlfriend of Aaron Robinson and estranged wife of another soldier.
Guillén was last seen around 1:00 p.m. on April 22, 2020, in the parking lot of her unit, the Regimental Engineer Squadron Headquarters of the 3rd Cavalry Regiment (3CR). Fort Hood is a U.S. Army post approximately 340 square miles [880 km2] in size and home to III Corps and the First Cavalry Division. Guillen's car keys, identification card, bank card, and barracks key were found inside the armory where she worked. Her family felt Guillén disappeared under suspicious circumstances. The case was investigated under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation with Bell County Sheriff's Office, Killeen Police Department, Belton Police Department, Texas Parks and Wildlife, the United States Marshal Service, and the Texas Rangers in support. Multiple Fort Hood units, including 3CR, began searching within two weeks of her disappearance.
Before Guillén went missing, she had told her family that she was being sexually harassed by an unnamed sergeant at Fort Hood, and that complaints by other female soldiers made against him had been dismissed. Her mother advised her to report him, but Guillén responded that "she could put a stop to it herself" out of fear that her mother would be harmed for making a report. In early June, her mother told reporters she did not trust the U.S. Army's handling of the investigation, and her attorney, Natalie Khawam, said she believed the family was "being kept in the dark" because few details had been released regarding Guillén's disappearance. On June 13, 2020, hundreds of people assembled at the gates of Fort Hood to protest what organizers felt was a lack of information on the case. CID reported that they found no evidence that Guillén was assaulted, but said investigators believed foul play was involved in her disappearance.
On June 17, the League of United Latin American Citizens added a $25,000 reward to the existing $25,000 reward announced by the U.S. Army for finding Guillén. On June 23, Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia, in whose district the Guillén family resides, met with Fort Hood officials to discuss the ongoing search for Guillén. The authorities said that more than 300 interviews and over 10,000 hours were spent investigating Gullién's disappearance.
On June 30, 2020, Army Investigators were called when contractors discovered partial human remains near the base. The area had previously been searched by Texas Rangers, detectives, and cadaver dogs on June 20 after a burn mound was discovered nearby. Investigators theorized that the remains, previously buried under concrete, had been dug up by wildlife. Tim Miller, Director of Texas EquuSearch, stated that it was the most sophisticated burial site he had ever seen. Later that evening, authorities re-interviewed Cecily Anne Aguilar, a local area woman who was the estranged wife of a soldier at Fort Hood. Aguilar was reported to be the girlfriend of Aaron David Robinson, a junior enlisted soldier who had contact with Guillén on the day of her disappearance and had previously been interviewed by authorities in the case. Aguilar told police that Robinson told her about killing a female soldier on Fort Hood. At the request of law enforcement, Aguilar placed a controlled telephone call to Robinson, who said "baby they found pieces" and texted Aguilar multiple news articles. According to a criminal complaint filed in the Western District Court of Texas, Aguilar allegedly helped Robinson dispose of Guillén's body on April 22, 2020, after Robinson told her he had bludgeoned Guillén to death with a hammer inside the Armory in which he worked. Early on July 1, Killeen police attempted to make contact with Robinson, who produced a handgun and killed himself before he could be taken into custody. Aguilar was arrested by Texas Rangers and held at the Bell County Jail. On July 2, Bell County officials stated Aguilar would be transferred to federal custody due to being charged with one count of conspiracy to tamper with evidence by the United States Attorney's Office Western District of Texas. Assistant United States Attorneys Mark Frazier and Greg Gloff are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States Government.
- April 22: According to law enforcement, Guillén is murdered with a hammer inside an armory building by the suspect, who then uses a trunk to remove her body from Fort Hood and gets help from a second suspect in dismembering the remains before burying them along the Leon River.
- April 23: CID was notified by a commissioned officer in the 3CR Provost Marshal that then PFC Guillén was reported missing.
- April 24: CID issues a missing soldier letter for Guillen Fort Hood Military Police issue a Be on the Lookout (BOLO) advisory to surrounding law enforcement agencies. Military personnel along with civilian and military police began a search.
- April 26: According to law enforcement tracking of cellphone data, Robinson and Aguilar return to the Leon River site and further break down Guillén's remains.
- April 28: CID interviews Robinson for the first time.
- April 30: Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy makes the following statement in a COVID-19 press briefing: "I'd like to start out this morning by talking about a missing soldier, Private First Class Vanessa Guillen, in hopes of increasing the public's awareness and assistance in finding her. Private First Class Guillen went missing on 22 April from Ford Hood, Texas. In concert with local law enforcement efforts, the Army will continue aggressively searching for her. Our hearts go out to her family, and we will not stop looking for her until we find her."
- May 18: Two witnesses are interviewed who observe Robinson struggling with a "tough box" outside of the armory.
- May 19: Robinson consents to a search of his cell phone by law enforcement using a Universal Forensic Extraction Device.
- June 19: Aguilar is interviewed for the first time.
- June 21: Cell phone data from both Robinson and Aguilar lead law enforcement officials to an area near the Leon River. Law enforcement officials locate the burned lid of a Pelican transport case, but fail to find a body.
- June 30: At about 1:00 pm, contractors working on a fence near the Leon River discover partial human remains (that would later be confirmed to be Guillen) and notify law enforcement. CID and partner agencies discover human remains. At about 8:30 pm, Aguilar was interviewed again and told law enforcement officials about the killing. Robinson fled Fort Hood and killed himself shortly after midnight when approached by law enforcement in Killeen, Texas.
- July 2: FBI formally submits a criminal complaint for Aguilar. Fort Hood and CID hold a press briefing.
- July 5: Remains are confirmed to be Vanessa Guillén.
Donkeeboy (Alex Roman, Jr.) created a mural in honor of Guillén as they were from the same neighborhood. The mural portrays her with the flags of both the United States and Mexico, the latter due to her Mexican American ethnicity. There is another mural dedicated to her at Taqueria del Sol in the Park Place neighborhood.
- Sexual harassment in the military
- Murder of Tracie McBride – Kidnapping and murder of a soldier from a military base in Texas
- Me Too movement
- History of Mexican Americans in Houston
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- "Houston artist Donkeeboy paints Vanessa Guillen mural". KTRK-TV. Retrieved July 31, 2020.
- Okolie, Stefania (July 7, 2020). "New mural pays tribute to Vanessa Guillen in her neighborhood". KTRK-TV. Retrieved July 31, 2020.
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