Texas Army base makes plea for Vanessa Guillen's return after skeletal remains of different missing soldier found

Fort Hood officials have renewed their plea for the return of Vanessa Guillen, who's been missing since April, after the skeletal remains of a different soldier who disappeared from the same Texas Army base nearly a year ago were discovered last week.

A recent tip has led investigators to Leon River in Bell County, the Houston Chronicle reported Monday, citing the founder of Texas EquuSearch, a non-profit search-and-rescue organization assisting multiple law enforcement agencies in their efforts to find Guillen.

In a video message Sunday, Fort Hood Deputy Commander Major General Scott Efflandt pleaded for any information about Guillen’s whereabouts.


"We want to bring Vanessa home as efficiently and as rapidly as possible. And towards that end, I'm asking for your assistance," Efflandt said. "We need to bring Vanessa back to her Army family and to bring her back to her family, and we won't stop this effort until we're successful."

“As we all grieve the loss of one Soldier, someone out there can help us not to have to grieve for another. If you have information as to the whereabouts of Vanessa Guillen, call 254-495-7767,” Fort Hood tweeted.

Pvt. First Class Vanessa Guillen, 20, a native of Houston, was last seen in the parking lot of her Regimental Engineer Squadron Headquarters, 3rd Cavalry Regiment at Fort Hood on April 22.

Her car keys, barracks room key, identification card and wallet were found in the armory room where she was working earlier in the day, according to investigators. Officials said she was last seen in the parking lot wearing a black T-shirt and “purple fitness-type pants.”

An attorney for Guillen's family, Natalie Khawam, said the soldier told relatives before her disappearance that she was being sexually harassed by a sergeant at the base but did not report the matter for fear of retaliation.

"There were a few incidents where she had told her colleagues, her friends, her family about being sexually harassed but she was afraid to report it,” Khawam told KTRK-TV. “How does someone disappear on a base that has more protection and safeguards than anyone else on the planet?"

Her case has caught the attention of actress Salma Hayek, who posted Guillen’s photo on Instagram at least twice on June 11 and June 12, writing in one message in Spanish, "Vanessa, you are not alone. We are all with you. We won't stop until you return."

The U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command has upgraded its reward to $25,000. The League of United Latin American Citizens is offering a separate $25,000 for credible information that leads to Guillen's return.

On Friday morning, the skeletal remains of Pvt. Second Class Gregory Wedel-Morales were discovered in a field near the 3200 block of Florence Road in Killeen, Texas, after Army special agents received information as to the location of the body.

The remains were identified as Wedel-Morales' using dental records with the assistance of the U.S. Army Dental Corps. Foul play is suspected at this point in the investigation. Army special agents are working closely with the Killeen Police Department and are offering a reward of up to $25,000 to anyone with credible information concerning the circumstances surrounding the death of Wedel-Morales.

Investigators said they have no credible information that the cases of Wedel-Morales and Guillen are connected, despite allegations widely circulating on social media.

Wedel-Morales, 24, a native of Sapulpa, Okla., was last seen driving his personal vehicle outside of Fort Hood in Killeen on the night of Aug. 19, 2019. That same 2018 Black KIA Rio was recovered by authorities in January after his family saw on CARFAX that someone in the Dallas-area had tried to take it in for an inspection, Fox 7 Austin reported.


Fort Hood has been at the center of controversy in recent months after six active-duty military members assigned to the base were arrested on sex trafficking charges in Temple, Texas, in mid-March, KCEN-TV reported.