Missing Fort Hood soldier Elder Fernandes reported sexual abuse just days before disappearing, says Army
Elder Fernandes, the 23-year-old Fort Hood soldier who has been missing since August 17, had reportedly alleged sexual abuse at the scandal-hit military base before vanishing. According to army officials, Fernandes was last seen on August 17 and had allegedly disappeared in the days following the 11th death of a soldier this year in the Texas base.
KWTX reported that Lt Col Chris Brautigam confirmed Fernandes reporting a sexual assault and the Army was investigating the incident. "We can confirm that there is an open investigation of abuse sexual contact involving Sgt Fernandes," Brautigam said, adding: "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. The unit also facilitated his transfer from a unit who has recently deployed to a different unit within the brigade to ensure he received the proper care and ensure there were no opportunities for reprisals."
The 1st Cavalry Division announced on August 20 that Fernandes, a 23-year-old chemical, biological radiological and nuclear specialist, had gone missing. The Killeen Police Department said he was last seen when he was dropped off at his home in Killeen. Just two days later, his family reported him missing. The Sun quoted the United States Army's Criminal Investigation Command saying that based on the information provided by Fernandes' fellow soldiers, he "may have left Fort Hood on his own accord". The 1st Cavalry Division also stated officials "do not suspect foul play" in the soldier's disappearance.
We are seeking your help in locating Sgt. Elder Fernandes.— 1st Cavalry Division (@1stCavalryDiv) August 20, 2020
Please contact the Fort Hood Military Police at 254-288-1170 or US Army CID at 254-287-2722, if you have any information on his whereabouts. pic.twitter.com/81I1SEx9hl
Descrived by the Army as African American, Fernandes stands 5 feet, 5 inches tall and weighs 133 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes. As reported previously by MEA WorldWide (MEAWW), he was last seen wearing an Army physical training shirt and shorts, and black, orange and yellow athletic. "We are very concerned about the welfare of this soldier and first and foremost we want to ensure he is okay," Christopher Grey, a spokesperson for the Army CID said in a statement, adding: "If someone out there has any information, regardless of how trivial you may think it is, we are asking you to contact us immediately."
Anybody with information regarding Fernandes' disappearance is asked to contact Fort Hood CID Office at 254-287-2722, Fort Hood MP desk at 254-287-4001 or the local police. This disappearance comes just days after the death of Specialist Cole Jakob Aton on August 12, marking the 11th death at the scandalous base this year. Specialist Aaron David Robinson, Gregory Wedel-Morales, Private Mejhor Morta, Specialist Francisco Gilberto Hernandez-Vargas, Private First Class Brandon Scott Rosecrans, Private First Class Freddy Delacruz Jr, Specialist Christopher Wayne Sawyer and Specialist Shelby Tyler Jones were all found dead at Fort Hood in 2020 itself.
After soldier Vanessa Guillen went missing in April, the search for her revealed several other bodies at the base. According to Guillen's family, she had been sexually harassed before disappearing from Fort Hood. Her body was found months later in a shallow grave and has been labeled a gruesome murder by investigators. Two soldiers from the same base were also arrested this month as part of a 'child sex ring'. Police claim they were caught trying to pay for sex with underage girls.