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Vanessa Guillen: Phone records, inconsistent alibis helped detectives solve Fort Hood soldier's disappearance

The 20-year-old had been missing for more than two months before her remains were found 30 miles from her army base
(US Army Forces Command)
(US Army Forces Command)

Police were convinced that a Fort Hood soldier, who was suspected in the disappearance and murder of Vanessa Guillen and who later killed himself, was guilty after they repeatedly caught him lying about his whereabouts, new documents have revealed. Guillen, a 20-year-old private first-class, had been last seen in the parking lot of the Regimental Engineer Squadron Headquarters, 3rd Cavalry Regiment at Ford Hood at around 1 pm on April 22, 2020.

Investigators made a breakthrough in her disappearance more than two months later, when they found an area of disturbed earth at a location roughly 30 miles from the base, and eventually, a shallow grave with remains. Those remains were confirmed belonging to Guillen on Tuesday, July 7. The primary suspect in her disappearance, Aaron David Robinson, a 20-year-old Army Specialist from Illinois also stationed at Fort Hood, killed himself on July 1 when the authorities tried to contact him. An FBI agent's affidavit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Texas and viewed by the Mercury News has now detailed the evidence collected by investigators in the weeks after she went missing which convinced them Robinson was the culprit.

The affidavit said Robinson had come under suspicion immediately after Guillen's mysterious disappearance because investigators saw that the last outgoing text message from her phone was to him. When he was questioned a few days later, he claimed, on April 22, he had gone straight from work to his off-post residence in nearby Killeen that he shared with his girlfriend Cecily Aguilar. She corroborated his alibi and said she had been with him all night.

Guillen was killed on June 22  (US Army Forces Command)

A month later, however, two witnesses came forward to tell investigators they had seen Robinson on the day pulling a large-wheeled "tough box" out of the arms room where he worked, loading it into his vehicle, and driving away. On May 19, Robinson consented to a search of his mobile phone logs, which revealed he had called Aguilar multiple times on the night of April 22 and the morning of the next day. Asked why he would be calling her if they were both at home like he claimed, Aguilar said she needed help finding her phone because she had lost it. But further analysis quickly exposed the lie. Investigators pinged Robinson's phone to a location near the Leon River in Bell County for around two hours early on April 23. They also pinged Aguilar's phone in the same area on April 23 and April 26.

Confronted over the inconsistency, Aguilar admitted she had lied about being home all night but went on to claim she and Robinson had driven to a park in Benton -- which is between Killeen and the area of the Leon River where their phones were pinged -- to "look at the stars." Her story changed again on June 21, when searchers at the Leon River site found an "area of disturbed earth." While they didn't find anything more at the time, they returned nine days later and found "scattered human remains that appeared to have been placed into a concrete-like substance and buried."

It was on that day that Aguilar finally admitted to being involved in Guillen's disappearance. She said Robinson picked her up on the day and drove her to the site near the Leon River. He then walked her into the woods and showed her a wheeled plastic box, inside which she saw a dead woman. She said Robinson confessed he had bludgeoned her to death before they proceeded to remove the limbs and head from the torso with a “hatchet or ax and a machete-type knife" and burned her remains. A few days later, they returned with a bag of cement, dug up the remains, burned them again, and buried the parts in three holes that they then covered with concrete.

Aguilar then called the soldier under the direction of investigators, the affidavit said. After the call, Robinson, who had abruptly left the base after police announced remains were found, texted her links and told her, "Baby, they found pieces, they found pieces." He shot himself in the head a few hours later, as investigators zeroed in on him.