Body found near Texas railroad tracks believed to be missing Fort Hood soldier, police say

TEMPLE, Texas — Authorities in Temple, Texas, said late Tuesday that a body found near railroad tracks is believed to be that of missing Fort Hood soldier Sgt. Elder Fernandes.

Investigators told KWTX that identification found at the scene “indicates” the victim may be Fernandes and that the body found “had been deceased for some period of time.”

Fernandes, 23, was reported missing by his family Aug. 19 after having not heard from him for two days. He was last seen by his staff sergeant Aug. 17 when he dropped the solider off at his Killeen residence in the 2700 block of Woodlands Drive.

Temple is about 27 miles from Killeen, Texas, where the U.S. Army post is located.

Police discovered the body Tuesday evening. No forensic testing has confirmed the identification, but officers do not suspect foul play, KCEN reported.

Fort Hood public affairs officer Lt. Col. Chris Brautigam said in a statement issued Sunday that there was an “open investigation of abusive sexual contact” involving Fernandes that prompted the sergeant’s unit transfer months before his disappearance.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Fernandes family during this challenging time,” Temple Police Chief Shawn Reynolds told KWTX.

Officials told KCEN that an autopsy has been ordered.