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Vanessa Guillen death: Army declares compensation for Fort Hood soldier's family, says she died 'in line of duty’

The Guillen family was briefed about the investigation, six months after she went missing and three months after her body was found
UPDATED OCT 21, 2020
(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillen died "in the line of duty" and therefore, her family will be compensated for the same, the Army has said. The Guillen family was briefed about the investigation into the 20-year-old soldier's death on Tuesday, October 20, six months after she went missing and three months after her body was found near the Texas military base. "This investigation concluded that Vanessa’s death was ‘in the line of duty'," the Army said in a press release. 

"This determination establishes that the Guillén family is entitled to a variety of Army benefits for Vanessa’s service to our nation," it explained. "Typically these benefits include compensation to immediately help the family with expenses, a funeral with full military honors, the Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance, and final pay and allowances." Guillen was last seen alive on April 22 and her body was found on June 30 in a shallow grave near Fort Hood. Her body was reportedly dismembered and encased in cement, investigators said.

People pay respects at a mural of Vanessa Guillen (Getty Images)

Authorities were working to interrogate suspect Aaron Robinson, Guillen's superior, on the night her body was discovered. However, he killed himself. It was later alleged that Robinson had roped in his girlfriend, 22-year-old Cecily Aguilar, to help him hide Guillen's body, according to the US Attorney's Office for the Western District of Texas.

Army officials said Robinson wasn't officially detained after Guillen's body was found, but was under the watch of an unarmed guard and was able to get away. "He was not in police custody because of (how) the legal process works," Major General Donna Martin, the Army’s provost marshal who leads the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command, previously explained.

Robinson escaped from the base and his escort chased him. "He gets in a vehicle and he flees and he leaves Fort Hood," Martin told ABC. Robinson was finally stopped but as military police closed in on him, he shot himself. While officials did not reveal where Robinson obtained the gun and how he had access to the vehicle, Martin said the “firearm, I can tell you, was not a government weapon. So he did not get it from his arms room".

Guillen's family demanded Congress launch a probe into claims that she was sexually harassed before her death. "How could this happen on a military base? How can this happen while she was on duty?" Guillen's sister Lupe fumed at a press conference in July. But Martin said there is no proof Robinson sexually harassed Vanessa. "In our criminal investigation, we found no evidence of sexual harassment between Vanessa and Spc. Robinson… That was ruled out very early," he told ABC.

President Donald Trump also met with the Guillen family in late July, promising to "get to the bottom" of the issue.

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Gloria Guillen, mother of missing Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillen, in the Oval Office of the White House (Getty Images)

It's worth noting that more than two dozen Fort Hood soldiers have died this year, as authorities work to piece together the incidents surrounding their deaths. Congress finally launched an investigation into deaths, disappearances, and alleged sexual assaults at the military base after a staggering 28 soldiers died this year. The Army said on October 20 they were in touch with the Guillen family "to keep them informed of the additional actions being taken at Fort Hood, and what policies are being revised to ensure Army culture continues to put people first and honors Vanessa’s life."