- Fort Hood Sgt. Elder Fernandes, 23, was last seen on August 17, when his staff sergeant dropped him off at his home in Killeen, Texas.
- He had recently been discharged from the Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center, according to KWKT-TV, though it remains unclear why he was hospitalized.
- Fernandes was reported missing after he didn’t show up to work on the Fort Hood Army Base in Texas on August 18.
- Lt. Col. Chris Brautigam, a 1st Cavalry Division spokesman told NBC News that Fernandes had recently transferred units after reporting sexual abuse.
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A Fort Hood soldier who has been missing for a week told the US Army days before his disappearance that he had been sexually abused.
Sgt. Elder Fernandes, 23, was last seen on August 17 when his staff sergeant dropped him off at his home in Killeen, Texas, after he had been discharged from the Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center, according to KWKT-TV.
It’s unclear why Fernandes had been at the hospital, though his mother Ailiana Fernandes told NBC News he was held at the facility for four or five days.
Meanwhile, Lt. Col. Chris Brautigam, a 1st Cavalry Division spokesman, told NBC News that there’s an open investigation into “abusive sexual contact involving Sgt. Fernandes” at the Texas Army base.
“The unit sexual assault response coordinator has been working closely with Sgt. Fernandes, ensuring he was aware of all his reporting, care, and victim advocacy options,” he said.
In a press release about Fernandes’ disappearance, Fort Hood said the soldier was reported missing when he did not report to work on August 18. His car was found in his unit’s parking lot on the Texas Army base.
Fernandes, a chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear specialist in the Army’s 1st Cavalry Division Sustainment Brigade, recently transferred units because of the alleged abuse, NBC News reported.
Fort Hood released a statement on Saturday in which officials said they believe Fernandes left on his own accord and his disappearance isn’t connected to the sexual abuse investigation.
“Our priority remains getting Sgt. Fernandes back with the people that care about him,” said Justin Redfern, commander of the 553rd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion. “We are concerned for his well-being and want him to continue the care he was receiving before he went missing. Our unit and the Army have the resources to help him.”
Fort Hood made headlines earlier this year when 20-year-old soldier Vanessa Guillen, went missing from the base in April. Her remains were found in July, 20 miles east of Fort Hood, and Guillen’s family had said she was sexually harassed by the soldier suspected of killing her.
Federal and state authorities said at the time that a fellow soldier, Aaron Robinson, had killed and dismembered Guillen. He died by suicide after her remains were found.
A Civilian, Cecily Aguilar, of Killeen, was charged in the case. Prosecutors say she helped Robinson dispense of Guillen’s body, but Aguilar pleaded not guilty.
- Read more:
- Remains of missing Texas soldier Vanessa Guillen have been identified, family lawyer says
- The murder of Vanessa Guillén has opened the floodgates on sexual assault in the US military as servicewomen rush to share their stories
- Top Army civilian official launches review of command climate at Texas base over Vanessa Guillén case
- The US Army will resume video game streaming on Twitch following the controversial bans of users who brought up war crimes
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