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Army suspects foul play in disappearance of Ft. Hood soldier, congresswoman says

Lupe Guillen, younger sister of Vanessa Guillen, addresses a crowd near Ft. Hood.
Lupe Guillen, younger sister of Army Pfc. Vanessa Guillen, addresses a crowd outside the Ft. Hood, Texas, military base June 12. Vanessa Guillen went missing April 22.
(Heather Osbourne / Austin American-Statesman )

U.S. Army investigators are suspecting foul play in the disappearance of a Texas soldier who has been missing for two months, a congresswoman confirmed Tuesday.

Pfc. Vanessa Guillen’s disappearance is being treated as a criminal investigation after she went missing April 22, U.S. Rep. Sylvia Garcia said Tuesday at a news conference with the soldier’s family.

“We don’t want just attention. We want action. We want answers,” Garcia said Tuesday. “We’ve got to remember that this is a family that is hurting.”

Garcia, a Democrat representing Texas’ 29th Congressional District, and Guillen’s family met with Army leaders to discuss the investigation into the disappearance of the 20-year-old Ft. Hood soldier.

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During the meeting, family members told Army officials that Guillen told them she’d been sexually harassed by her superiors. But Guillen didn’t report the harassment because she was afraid of retaliation, said Natalie Khawam, the family’s attorney.

Khawam said she wants Congress to conduct an investigation into how the case is being handled because Army investigators haven’t been disclosing details. The only information Army leaders provided is Guillen’s last known contact on April 22, Garcia said.

“There’s something extremely troubling about this case. A military base is probably one of the most secure places you can be. You have ID check-ins. There are security cameras everywhere,” Khawam told KHOU-TV on Monday.

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Guillen was last seen in a Ft. Hood parking lot wearing a black T-shirt and purple workout pants.

A tip led a search team, including Texas EquuSearch, to the Leon River on Monday, but they didn’t discover anything.

Meanwhile, Guillen’s car, keys and wallet were all left behind in the armory room where she was working earlier on April 22, and her phone is missing.

“I demand justice and I demand their respect and that they respect my daughter as a soldier,” Guillen’s mother, Gloria Guillen, said in Spanish on Tuesday. “She enlisted for her country and to protect us. And now that she needs us, we need to support her and find her.”

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On Twitter, Ft. Hood officials are asking for anyone with information to come forward.

A $50,000 reward is being offered for any information that leads to the soldier’s whereabouts. The U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command and the League of United Latin American Citizens are each contributing $25,000 to fund the reward.


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