Woman charged with helping get rid of body of Vanessa Guillen, missing Fort Hood soldier
A Texas woman accused of helping mutilate and dispose of the body of a Fort Hood soldier who vanished this spring was charged Thursday, authorities said.
Cecily Aguilar, 22, of Killeen, faces one count of conspiracy to tamper with evidence in the April 22 disappearance of Army Specialist Vanessa Guillen, federal prosecutors in Texas' western district said in a statement.
Partial remains were found in Bell County earlier this week but have not been formally identified as Guillen, prosecutors said.
Cecily Aguilar.Bell County
A Fort Hood soldier who authorities identified earlier Thursday as another suspect in Guillen's disappearance, E-4 Specialist Aaron David Robinson, allegedly told Aguilar that he killed a female soldier after hitting her in the head with a hammer, according to officials.
Robinson, 20, also allegedly enlisted Aguilar — who recognized Guillen — to help him get rid of her body at a remote site in Bell County, near Fort Hood. Damon Phelps of the CID, the Army's primary criminal investigative organization, told reporters that Aguilar is the estranged wife of a former Fort Hood soldier.
Earlier Thursday, Phelps said that Robinson died by suicide early Wednesday after fleeing Fort Hood the night before.
"While law enforcement agencies attempted to make contact with the suspect in Killeen, Texas, Specialist Robinson reportedly displayed a weapon and took his own life," said Phelps.
The announcement comes a day after Natalie Khawam, attorney for the Guillen family, said they believe that the remains found in Bell County are Guillen's. Investigators previously had said they suspected foul play related to her disappearance.
Phelps denied allegations that Robinson was Guillen's superior, adding he was in "no way" in Guillen's line of command. However, they were coworkers, he said.
The Army said Wednesday they promoted Private First Class Guillen, 20, to specialist due to her time in service.
Vanessa Guillen United States Army
Guillen was last seen at a parking lot in Fort Hood, where she was stationed, on April 22. Officials said that “her car keys, barracks room key, identification card and wallet” were found in the armory room where she was working on the day she disappeared.
On June 15, the Army raised the reward to $25,000 for anyone with information leading up to Guillen's whereabouts. The League of United Latin American Citizens, the nation's oldest Latino civil rights organization that has been helping the Guillen family, added an additional $25,000 to the reward the following day. Two days later, the military opened up a separate inquiry looking into allegations that Guillen was sexually harassed by a supervisor.
Khawam said Guillen reported her harassment to her family and fellow soldiers at the base.
Phelps said the Army has no credible information or reports that Guillen was sexually assaulted.
Guillen’s sister, Mayra, previously told NBC's "Dateline" that Guillen never identified the person who allegedly harassed her and never reported the incidents to the Army’s sexual harassment and prevention program.
Robinson was a suspect in Guillen's disappearance, but he "was not involved" in the separate investigation looking into the sexual harassment allegations, said Phelps.
After the sexual harassment reports surfaced, many service members have used the hashtag #IAmVanessaGuillen to share their experiences with sexual assault and harassment on social media.
Sexual assault in the U.S. military has increased over the past two years, according to a report from the Defense Department.
Maj. Gen. Scott Efflandt, III Corps deputy commanding general, announced during the press conference that the Inspector General's Office will examine the implementation of Fort Hood's sexual harassment and prevention program, assess whether the "command climate" is supportive of soldiers reporting sexual assault or harassment and "identify any potential systemic issues."
Authorities said the investigation on Guillen's disappearance remains ongoing and that they will continue to be careful about the information being shared in order to avoid "an impact on prosecution and charges."