KILLEEN, Texas - The search for missing Fort Hood soldier Pfc. Vanessa Guillen continues more than a month after her disappearance.
On April 22, the 20-year-old soldier disappeared from Fort Hood. That morning, she texted her boyfriend that she was headed to work in the arms room on base. Around 11 a.m. her sister, Mayra Guillen, says text messages sent to her phone began bouncing back, and calls went to voicemail.
Around 8 p.m. her sister grew worried and contacted her staff sergeant, who is charged with attendance. He told her that he had not seen Vanessa Guillen since lunchtime, but was expecting to see her at 10 p.m. check in. She never showed up.
Her ID, CAC card, debit card, and keys were found in the arms room.
Mayra Guillen says her sister enlisted at age 18. She was in South Carolina, then Virginia before coming to Fort Hood at the beginning of the year.
“She wasn’t as joyful as she was usually -- and I don’t know what happens in there that made like a complete change in her.” said Mayra Guillen. She says she has recently been going through old texts with her sister. One message, in particular, stands out. “She pretty much didn’t like being at Fort Hood and (said) hopefully one day she could open up to me in regards to what was bothering her.”
Fort Hood officials and Special Agents from the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command are asking for the public’s assistance in locating Pfc. Vanessa Guillen, a 20-year-old Soldier stationed at Fort Hood, Texas. (Fort Hood Press Center)
Today, Mayra Guillen says she wishes she had “pushed [her sister] a little bit more into telling [her] what was going on inside the base.”
According to a statement issued by Fort Hood, the U.S. Army’s Criminal Investigation Command, known as CID, is leading the investigation. The search continues both on and off Fort Hood by multiple agencies including the Texas Rangers, Bell and Coryell County Sheriff Departments, the Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Game Wardens, the FBI, Texas EquuSearch and area police departments.
Vanessa Guillen was with the 3rd Cavalry Regiment. When she first disappeared, the regiment had more than 500 soldiers a day searching on foot in training areas, barracks and across the installation. Aircraft from the 1st Cavalry Division provided more than 100 hours of flight time to the search both on and off the base. Now, targeted searches are ongoing with smaller groups of soldiers.
Still Mayra Guillen says contact with officials at Fort Hood has been very limited. She spoke with staff sergeants the first day her sister went missing. No one, aside from CID, reached out to her until April 23, more than a month after her sister's disappearance.
“Her chain of command failed on her,” said Mayra Guillen.
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Vanessa Guillen is 5’3 with brown hair and eyes, and a mole on the left side of her chin. She was last seen wearing a black shirt, black Nike shoes, and light purple leggings. Her sister says she loves the outdoors and physical fitness.
“It’s always been like me and her and for this to happen, it’s just like, it’s really hard,” said Mayra Guillen. She has been staying near the base, almost every day since her sister disappeared.
Last Monday, Fort Hood soldier Pfc. Brandon Scott Rosecrans was found shot and killed near his burning Jeep. The murder has Mayra Guillen on edge. “I don’t feel safe at all. Whether it’s inside or outside the base. So, I’m always keeping an eye out.” she said.
CID is offering an up to $15,000 reward for information that leads to Vanessa Guillen’s whereabouts. Anyone with information should contact CID agents at 254-495-7767. Texas EquuSearch can also be contacted at 281-309-9500, as can the U.S. Army Military Police Desk at 254-287-4001.