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A Texas woman accused of helping mutilate and dispose of the body of a Fort Hood soldier who vanished this spring was charged Thursday, authorities said.
Cecily Aguilar, 22, of Killeen, faces one count of conspiracy to tamper with evidence in the April 22 disappearance of Army Specialist Vanessa Guillen, federal prosecutors in Texas’ western district said in a statement.
Partial remains were found in Bell County earlier this week but have not been formally identified as Guillen, prosecutors said.
A Fort Hood soldier who authorities identified earlier Thursday as another suspect in Guillen’s disappearance, E-4 Specialist Aaron David Robinson, allegedly told Aguilar that he killed a female soldier after hitting her in the head with a hammer, according to officials.
Robinson, 20, also allegedly enlisted Aguilar — who recognized Guillen — to help him get rid of her body at a remote site in Bell County, near Fort Hood. Damon Phelps of the CID, the Army’s primary criminal investigative organization, told reporters that Aguilar is the estranged wife of a former Fort Hood soldier.
Earlier Thursday, Phelps said that Robinson died by suicide early Wednesday after fleeing Fort Hood the night before.
A soldier suspected in the disappearance of Fort Hood Pfc. Vanessa Guillen killed himself after police confronted him in Killeen, Texas, authorities said Wednesday.Texas Rangers arrested another civilian suspect in connection with Guillen’s disappearance, according to US Army Criminal Investigation Command, which calls itself CID.The suspect, who has not been identified, is the estranged wife of a former soldier from Fort Hood. She is in Bell County Jail awaiting civilian authorities to press charges, CID said.”We have made significant progress in this tragic situation and are doing everything possible to get to the truth and bring answers to the family of Pfc. Vanessa Guillen,” CID spokesman Chris Grey said.
Guillen, 20, was last seen in the parking lot of her barracks at the Texas Army base April 22, CID said.
Fort Hood officials told Guillen’s family they suspect foul play, US Rep. Sylvia Garcia said at a news conference last week.
Early Wednesday, US Marshals, Killeen police and the Lone Star Fugitive Task Force located the unidentified soldier suspected in Guillen’s disappearance, CID said. He had left his Fort Hood post. The authorities confronted him walking along a commercial and residential thoroughfare on the northeast side of the city, a few miles from base.
“As officers attempted to make contact with the suspect, the suspect displayed a weapon and discharged it toward himself. The suspect succumbed from a self-inflicted gunshot wound,” the Killeen Police Department said in a news release.
This came just hours after investigators discovered Tuesday the partial remains of a body near the Leon River in rural Bell County, where Killeen is located.
Authorities on Sunday confirmed that the skeletal remains found in a field in Killeen, Texas on Friday is the body of missing Fort Hood soldier Gregory Morales. They are investigating his death as a homicide.
The remains were identified with the help of U.S. Army investigators and the Army’s Dental Corps. Autopsy results are still pending to determine the cause and manner of death, officials said.
Foul play is suspected, and Army investigators, who are working with Killeen police, are offering a reward of up to $25,000 to anyone with credible information about Morales’ death.
“The First Team is saddened by the news of the passing of PV2 Gregory Morales. His life was taken too soon, and we appreciate his service to our nation,” Maj. Gen. Jeffery Broadwater, commander of the 1st Cavalry Division, said in a statement from Fort Hood.
The family of missing Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillén said Wednesday that her remains were likely found in a shallow grave near the Army installation in Texas, possibly bringing a months-long search for her to a tragic end.
Guillén, 20, was last seen on the morning of April 22 in the parking lot outside her regiment headquarters on the sprawling base outside Killeen.
Her disappearance, punctuated by allegations that she had been sexually harassed by a superior, sparked sadness and rage within her family and the Latino community, who said the Army’s investigative efforts after her disappearance moved too slowly.
“We lost a beautiful young soldier,” family attorney Natalie Khawam said at a news conference with Guillén’s family outside the Navy Memorial in Washington.
Killeen police encountered a suspect tied to Guillén’s disappearance early Wednesday. The fellow soldier “reportedly displayed a weapon and took his own life,” Army investigators said.
Body of climber who fell skiing down Liberty Ridge on Mount Rainier found in crevasse
The body of a climber who went missing while skiing down the Liberty Ridge route on Mount Rainier was found Monday, according to the National Park Service.
Matthew Bunker, 28, of Seattle, disappeared Friday while descending behind his partner near 10,400-foot Thumb Rock on the north flank of the mountain.
Rangers said it’s unknown what caused Bunker to fall in steep, treacherous terrain.
A helicopter was used twice over the weekend to conduct reconnaissance missions from the air, but winds and clouds hampered the search.
On Monday, rangers in the helicopter spotted Bunker’s body in a crevasse at the base of a cliff.
That area is prone to continuous rock and ice fall and rescuers said it’s too dangerous to recover Bunker’s body
The U.S. Army, which has come under criticism by the family of missing Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillen, is speaking out, addressing questions about the investigation into her disappearance more than two months ago.
The Army’s move comes days after investigators said they suspect foul play related to her disappearance and opened up a separate inquiry looking into allegations that she was sexually harassed by a supervisor.
“Where’s my sister? They know where she is and I want them to speak up and I want answers and I want them now,” Lupe Guillen, Vanessa’s sister, told NBC affiliate KCEN in Temple, Texas, during a protest Friday. “My eyes are dried out because I can’t even cry anymore.”
The Army included with its list of answered frequently asked questions about the case a message, saying: “We are very concerned for the welfare of PFC Vanessa Guillen and we fully understand the frustration felt by the family, friends and fellow Soldiers of Vanessa. We are doing everything in our power to get her back and will not stop until we do.”
The Army announced several measures on Thursday to reduce the possibility of racial bias within its promotions and military justice systems, but banning Confederate flags and renaming posts bearing the names of Confederate military commanders will have to wait — possibly for a Pentagon-wide order.
“We are advisers,” said Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville during a press conference. “And we pass that military advice to our civilian leaders, and they are working through that and trying to come up with a long-term and enduring policy.”
“We certainly have some ideas on the best ways to do this, whether its the symbology of certain things or taking a look at what the names of certain posts should be,” McConville added.
In early June, Army leaders and Defense Secretary Mark Esper said they were open to a discussion on renaming Army posts that bear the names of Confederate commanders. But President Donald Trump tweeted on June 10 that his administration “will not even consider” the move.
That apparently doesn’t mean the idea is dead. Congress could ultimately push the issue forward, even as the Army waits for a Defense Department-wide policy.
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, called on President Donald Trump on Monday to invoke the Insurrection Act, then deploy active-duty combat units to “show no quarter” in putting down violence and looting in major cities, which he charged have been instigated by left-wing extremists.
State governors thus far have not asked for the help of active-duty troops. But Cotton said a massive show of force by the 101st Airborne Division, 10th Mountain Division, 82nd Airborne Division, 1st Cavalry Division and 3rd Infantry Division — “whatever it takes to restore order” — might be necessary.
“We always respect the rights of peaceful protesters,” said Cotton, a former Army captain and Iraq and Afghanistan veteran, but “we have zero tolerance for anarchy, rioting and looting.”
In a series of tweets and an appearance on the “Fox & Friends” program, Cotton echoed others in the Trump administration, including Attorney General William Barr, in blaming the violence on leftist extremists such as the antifa movement. He appeared to challenge antifa, the far-left militant group, to a fight.
The Pentagon has issued new guidance for local commanders in states where stay-at-home orders are beginning to relax, according to a memo released Wednesday.
Since late March, all military installations globally have been in partial lockdown after Defense Secretary Mark Esper raised the Defense Department’s (DOD) global health protection level to its second-highest setting. The freeze — which prohibited nonessential travel for DOD personnel and families and limited access to bases — was intended to stem increasing coronavirus cases among service members.
A May 19 memo now lays out a guideline for local commanders to relax certain restrictions as COVID-19 cases decline in their areas.
“Commanders, in consultation with their medical leadership, shall exercise their authority by making deliberate, risk-based decisions to change [health protection] levels as conditions allow,” according to the memo signed by Esper.
Installations must still follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force guidance and regulations.
Enemies of the U.S. Army are now deliberately hiding targets behind mountain ridges, under bridges, in rocky crevices and other locations intended to elude state-of-the art GPS-guided artillery round attacks — complicating U.S. efforts to pinpoint and destroy targets.
Existing guided artillery rounds, often using GPS, Inertial Measurement Systems and advanced seeker technology, have been effective in combat for years, giving ground attack commanders expanded attack options. A precision-guided 155m artillery round, called Excalibur, first emerged in warfare in 2007.
The advent of these kinds of guided rounds brought artillery into the modern warfare era; historically, artillery was used as an “area weapon” to blanket enemy locations with incoming fire, enabling forces to maneuver. Excalibur, which was used with great success in Iraq and Afghanistan, introduced a new level of precision attack into ground combat. This not only allowed for greater stand-off distance but offered new tactical advantages to commanders seeking to eliminate targets in otherwise congested, dangerous or complicated environments.
Now, following years of combat, U.S. adversaries have developed tactics intended to thwart, stop or avoid these kinds of precision-artillery attacks, by placing assets and potential targets in areas less vulnerable to destruction by guided rounds — such as on the other side of a mountain or beneath a bridge.
Authorities are searching for a missing soldier stationed at Fort Hood who hasn’t been seen since Wednesday.
Vanessa Guillen, 20, was last seen in the parking lot of her barracks at the Fort Hood Army post in Texas on April 22 around 1 p.m., according to a news release from the United States Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID).
A $15,000 reward for information leading to Guillen’s whereabouts is being offered by CID, a tweet from Fort Hood said Monday.
Keys to her car and room were found in the armory where she was working earlier in the day along with her identification card and wallet, the release said.
Guillen, a private first class, was last seen wearing a black T-shirt, according to the release.
As health protection measures around the world remain elevated due to the coronavirus outbreak, how does someone maintain physical readiness while adhering to social distancing guidelines?
“You need to perform functional-movement type of exercises,” said Mark Reiswig, the director of the Army Wellness Center at Landstuhl. “Really it’s anything you can do to increase your mobility while increasing your strength. You need to perform those types of exercises to have a good mobile lifestyle.”
Reiswig says he’s heard of creative ways folks are staying in shape as gyms continue to stay closed.
“There are things you can do with everyday items” he said. “For example, doing squats while holding a big bag of dog food. There are tire flips, there are pull-up bars, there are all types of things you can do six-feet apart from each other that don’t require going into a gym.”