Vanessa Guillen: Fort Hood investigating missing soldier’s sexual harassment claims

FORT HOOD, Texas — Vanessa Guillen, a Fort Hood soldier missing since April 22, confided in family members that she was being sexually harassed by a sergeant at the military base.

Nearly two months after her disappearance, Fort Hood officials have launched an investigation into the 20-year-old private’s claims.

Col. Ralph Overland, commander of the 3rd Cavalry Regiment, announced Thursday that he has appointed an investigative team, to be led by a senior investigating officer, to conduct a commander’s investigation, known as an AR 15-6 investigation.

“I opened an investigation concerning the information provided by the Guillen family that Pfc. Vanessa Guillen was harassed prior to her disappearance,” Overland said in a statement. “I take allegations of sexual harassment very seriously, and we are conducting a thorough investigation.

“The 3rd Cavalry Regiment continues to aggressively search for Pfc. Guillen and will not stop until we find her.”

Chris Grey, a spokesman for the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, said more than 150 people have been interviewed in connection with Guillen’s disappearance. Army CID investigators have partnered with the FBI, the Belton Police Department and the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Fort Hood is located in Killeen, Texas, about halfway between Austin and Waco.

“We have also partnered with Texas EquuSearch and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to tap into their resources as well,” Grey said. “We have participated in ground and air searches on Fort Hood and throughout the Central Texas region.”

“We are completely committed to finding Vanessa and aggressively going after every single piece of credible information and every lead in this investigation. We will not stop until we find Vanessa.”

Fort Hood also this week increased the reward being offered for information leading to Guillen’s whereabouts from $15,000 to $25,000.

REWARD INCREASED IN SEARCH FOR VANESSA The U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command is offering a reward of up to...

Posted by III Corps and Fort Hood on Monday, June 15, 2020

“We know somebody out there has some very critical information pertaining to this investigation, and we strongly encourage you to do the right thing and come forward,” Grey said. “Do it for Vanessa, and do it for her family, friends and fellow soldiers.”

Guillen, a small arms and artillery repairer for the 3rd Cavalry Regiment, was last seen around 1 p.m. April 22 in the parking lot of the Regimental Engineer Squadron Headquarters on Fort Hood, according to Army officials.

“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.”

A native of Houston, Guillen is close to her family and visits them frequently, Fort Hood officials said. She is an avid runner.

Vanessa's vinyl is posted this morning in Killeen! Out and about this weekend and saw the digital bulletin several times.

Posted by Find Vanessa Guillen on Monday, June 15, 2020

According to missing person flyers, Guillen is 5 feet, 3 inches tall and weighs 126 pounds. She is of Hispanic descent, has black hair, 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 Texas EquuSearch.

Awareness of Guillen’s disappearance increased late last week when actor Salma Hayek began posting information about the missing soldier on her Instagram account. On Saturday, Hayek posted a photo in which she is holding 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.”

View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Salma Hayek Pinault (@salmahayek) on

Dozens of people, including Guillen’s family, also demonstrated outside Fort Hood on Friday to demand answers in her disappearance. Her mother, Gloria Guillen, previously told Nancy Grace’s Crime Online that her daughter said she did not feel safe at Fort Hood, in part due to the unnamed 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.

At Friday’s vigil, veteran Krysta Martinez told the Austin American-Statesman that she, too, had 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 “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.”

Watch Guillen’s sisters speak below, courtesy of KCEN-TV in Temple.

If the allegations of sexual harassment are proven true, it would not be the first time sexual crimes were discovered on the base. 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.

At Friday’s rally, 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.

Grey this week sought to dispel some rumors that he said had been widely circulated on social media. The spokesman said investigators have no evidence suggesting Vanessa Guillen was sexually assaulted at the time of her disappearance.

He said there is also no credible evidence that her disappearance is connected to that of Gregory Wedel Morales, a 23-year-old private second class who was last seen alive the night of Aug. 19, 2019. At that time, he was driving his 2018 black Kia Rio, which has since been recovered by authorities.

“The last known verbal contact with PV2 Morales was Aug. 20, 2019, and he has not been seen or heard from since that date,” according to a statement from Fort Hood officials. “Morales was out-processing from the Army and was scheduled to be discharged within a couple of days when he disappeared.

“Morales may also be using the last name Wedel, which was his last name prior to his marriage. He was born and raised in Oklahoma and Fort Hood was his first duty station while serving in the Army. PV2 Morales was known to associate with numerous civilians in and around Central Texas.”

Fort Hood on Wednesday announced that it is also offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to the whereabouts of Morales.

Anyone with information on the disappearances of either Guillen or Morales is asked to call Army CID special agents at 254-287-2722 or the Military Police Desk at 254-288-1170. They can also anonymously submit information at

“People wishing to remain anonymous will be honored to the degree allowable under the law, and the information will be held in the strictest confidence allowable,” authorities said.