FORT HOOD, Texas — Vanessa Guillen vanished without a trace April 22 from Fort Hood, where the U.S. Army private was working as a small arms and artillery repairer for the 3rd Cavalry Regiment.
Nearly two months later, actor Salma Hayek is lending her voice to the chorus of people desperate to find the missing 20-year-old Houston native.
On Saturday, Hayek posted a photo on her Instagram page in which she holds up a cardboard sign with Guillen’s Army portrait.
“Bring back Vanessa,” the sign reads, in both English and Spanish.
The message continues, “Vanessa, no estás sola. Estános todes contigo y no pararemos hasta que regreses.”
Hayek’s words translate to, “Vanessa, you are not alone. We are all with you and we will not stop until you return.”
In a previous post, Hayek wrote that Guillen’s mother, Gloria Guillen, has said her daughter complained of sexual harassment by a sergeant on the base.
“When her mother advised her to report him, Vanessa said other women had reported him and they were not believed,” Hayek wrote. “Vanessa and Gloria, I believe you and I pledge to put Vanessa’s photo on my stories every day until she is found.”
A special mass was held for Guillen Saturday night at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Killeen, according to KWTX in Waco. It was held entirely in Spanish for Guillen’s family.
On Friday, dozens of people demonstrated outside Fort Hood in the latest of several rallies Guillen’s family, friends and well-wishers have held as they demand answers in her disappearance.
Guillen was last seen at 1 p.m. April 22 in the parking lot of the Regimental Engineer Squadron Headquarters on Fort Hood, according to the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command. Fort Hood is located in Killeen, Texas, about halfway between Austin and Waco.
“Her car keys, barracks room key, identification card and wallet were later found in the armory room where she was working earlier in the day,” an Army CID news release said. “She was last seen wearing a black T-shirt and purple fitness-type pants.”
According to missing person flyers, Guillen is 5 feet, 3 inches tall and weighs 126 pounds. She is of Hispanic descent, has black hair and brown eyes and a small mole on the left side of her chin.
She also has two tattoos on her left arm, a cross with a flower and a second flower, and a third tattoo, a mountain with a circle, on her upper left shoulder, according to search and rescue agency Texas EquuSearch.
The Fort Hood news release stated that military and civilian law enforcement, as well as Fort Hood military members, have conducted extensive searches for Guillen.
“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 (and) the FBI, as well as local area police departments,” officials from the Fort Hood Public Affairs Office said in a May update on the case.
“Initially, 3rd Cavalry Regiment had more than 500 Soldiers a day searching on foot in training areas, barracks and across the installation. More targeted searches are ongoing with smaller groups of soldiers.”
Aircraft from the 1st Cavalry Division provided more than 100 hours of flight time to the search, both on and off the Army installation, Fort Hood authorities said.
Little had changed publicly as of Wednesday, when military officials offered another update. They said in a news release that agents are keeping in contact with Guillen’s family weekly.
“Over the course of this investigation, numerous special agents from the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command have frequently called and met with members of the Guillen family from the date she was first reported missing,” said Tom Rheinlander, public affairs director for Fort Hood. “An in-person meeting was held on May 23 with Mayra Guillen, sister to Pfc. Vanessa Guillen, and virtually on June 8 with Pfc. Vanessa Guillen’s mother, Gloria Guillen, and U.S. Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia, hosted by the 3rd Cavalry Regiment commander Col. Ralph Overland, a translator and CID special agents. The participants were given a full investigative update and were encouraged to ask questions.”
In a statement, Overland described Guillen as a “highly valued” member of the 3rd Cavalry Regiment.
“We will maintain our resolve to locate Pfc. Vanessa Guillen and will continue our efforts until she is found,” Overland said. “We will never quit searching”
The Army CID is also offering a $15,000 reward for credible information leading to Guillen’s whereabouts.
Houston rapper Baby Bash on Saturday added another $5,000 to the reward.
“Find Vanessa,” the rapper wrote in a Facebook post accompanied by a photo of Guillen’s mother. “Anything anybody knows will help.”
Gloria Guillen disputed Army officials’ statements of transparency with the family, saying the military investigators have refused to answer some of her questions. As Hayek wrote, Gloria Guillen alleged that her daughter had confided in her about alleged sexual harassment.
The distraught mother told Nancy Grace’s Crime Online that her daughter said she did not feel safe at Fort Hood, in part due to the sergeant’s harassment.
“(Vanessa) said it was stalking and verbal harassment. He would look at her some type of way that would make any woman feel uncomfortable,” Gloria Guillen told the website through her daughter, Mayra Guillen.
Gloria Guillen said her daughter was having trouble sleeping and felt the base was “evil.” She said her daughter told her she would take care of the problem.
Weeks later, Vanessa Guillen was gone.
Watch Guillen’s sisters speak below, courtesy of KCEN-TV in Temple.
At Friday’s vigil, veteran Krysta Martinez told the Austin American-Statesman that she, too, experienced harassment while stationed at the base.
“I’m out here because everything going on here is true,” Martinez told the newspaper, which shared its story with Military.com. “Fort Hood is a terrible place.
“Sexual harassment and sexual assault is a big thing at Fort Hood and there is never any justice. The family needs justice. They need answers.”
Guillen’s 16-year-old sister wept as she begged the public for information about her sister’s whereabouts.
“I plead with you from the bottom of my heart to have compassion, because she’s my sister and I want her back. I want her alive,” Lupe Guillen cried in footage recorded at the gathering.
The demonstrators chanted, “Where is Vanessa? We need answers!”
“I want my daughter alive,” Gloria Guillen told the crowd in Spanish. “It’s my right as a mother because she’s mine. I gave birth to her and she’s mine.”
Vanessa Guillen’s on-base disappearance is the latest blight on Fort Hood over the past decade. On. Nov. 5, 2009, active duty Army Major Nidal Hassan, a psychiatrist working on the base, shot and killed 14 people and injured dozens more in the deadliest mass shooting on an American military base.
Hassan, who was paralyzed after responding officers shot him, represented himself at trial and, in 2013, was found guilty of 45 counts of murder and sentenced to death.
A second shooting on the base on April 2, 2014, ended with four people dead, including the gunman, Army Spc. Ivan Lopez. Sixteen others were injured.
In 2015, Army 1st Sgt. Gregory McQueen pleaded guilty to over a dozen military charges after establishing a prostitution ring at Fort Hood. According to The Associated Press, McQueen admitted to recruiting three low-ranking female soldiers into the scheme.
McQueen, who worked as a victims’ advocate on the base, was sentenced to 24 months in prison, demoted and dishonorably discharged, the AP reported.
In September 2017, 13 active duty soldiers from Fort Hood were arrested as part of a separate prostitution sting conducted by authorities in Bell County, according to the Army Times.
Anyone with information about Vanessa Guillen’s disappearance is asked to call the Army CID at 254-495-7767 or the Military Police Desk at 254-287-4001. CID agents also can be contacted online at https://www.cid.army.mil/report-a-crime.html.
Cox Media Group