The authorities believe they have found the body of the missing Fort Hood soldier who disappeared shortly after reporting sexual abuse he allegedly suffered at the military installation.
According to the Killeen Police Department, 23-year-old Sgt. Elder Fernandes was reported missing last Wednesday, shortly after he opened up about the harassment he had been subjected to at Fort Hood.
The last time the young soldier was seen was last Monday when he was dropped off at his home by his staff sergeant.
More than a week after the 23-year-old’s disappearance, the Army police allegedly found a body along with identification suggesting that it belongs to Fernandes some thirty miles from the base the soldier was stationed at.
According to Natalie Khawam, the family’s lawyer who also represents the family of Vanessa Guillen, the Army police informed the family of their finding and revealed that the body was hanging from a tree along with Fernandes’s backpack and ID.
While the police do not suspect foul play as of this writing, the investigation continues and an autopsy will be performed.
As the family’s representative told ABC News, the young soldier became “very, very depressed” following exploitation at his workplace.
“I am saddened that another soldier who served the country has been destroyed by sexual assault and sexual harassment and this toxic culture in the military that exists,” Khawam expressed.
Shortly before his disappearance, Fernandes was reportedly moved to a different unit after opening up about the harassment he had allegedly experienced at Fort Hood.
Confirming the soldier’s report was public affairs officer who stated that “the unit sexual assault response coordinator has been working closely with Sgt. Fernandes, ensuring he was aware of all his reporting, care, and victim advocacy options.”
According to Lt. Col. Chris Brautigam, Fernandes was also moved to another unit in order “to ensure he received the proper care and ensure there were no opportunities for reprisals.”
The 23-year-old’s passing deepens the mystery surrounding the strange deaths of at least 15 Fort Hood soldiers who died this year. Out of these fifteen deaths, five are believed to be a result of foul play.
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