Fort Hood Soldier Reported Being Sexually Abused Before Vanishing 1 Week Ago
Sgt. Elder Fernandes, 23, was last seen on Monday, and is the latest in a string of disappearances and violent deaths at Ft. Hood
A Fort Hood soldier who has been missing for a week was the victim in an ongoing "abusive sexual contact" investigation, the Army said in a statement.
Sgt. Elder Fernandes, 23, was last seen by his staff sergeant on Monday afternoon, when the sergeant dropped him off at his residence, according to the Killeen Police Department.
Fernandes is a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear specialist at Fort Hood. His family reported him missing on Wednesday when they were unable to get in contact with him.
In a statement to CNN, Lt. Col. Chris Brautigam, a 1st Cavalry Division public affairs officer, said that there is an "open investigation of abusive sexual contact" involving Fernandes, who was classified as a victim in the inquest.
"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," Brautigam's statement reads. "The unit also facilitated his transfer from a unit who has recently deployed to a different unit within the brigade to ensure he received the proper care and ensure there were no opportunities for reprisals."
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The disappearance is the latest in several disappearances and deaths tied to the installation this year.
Earlier this month, Brandon Michael Olivares, 28, was accused of killing 27-year-old Pfc. Brandon Scott Rosecrans, a Fort Hood soldier found fatally shot on a secluded roadside May 18. Police said Olivares and Rosecrans, a National Defense Service Medal recipient, were traveling together in Rosecrans’ Jeep Renegade before he was shot.
The victim's body was discovered at 10:16 a.m., and his Jeep was found 11 minutes later about four miles away, engulfed in flames.
Olivares is being held on a $1 million bond.
According to a criminal affidavit, Olivares allegedly shot Rosencrans over a disputed gun sale, reports the Austin American-Statesman.
Olivares' girlfriend, Estrellita “Star” Falcon, 37, was arrested on charges of unauthorized use of a vehicle and hindering apprehension and prosecution in connection with the shooting. She was jailed with a $100,000 bond.
Attorneys for the two were not identified in public records and it could not be determined if they’d entered pleas to the charges against them.
In late June, the partial remains of missing 20-year-old Fort Hood soldier Pfc. Vanessa Guillen were discovered in a shallow grave near the Leon River in rural Bell County. Guillen’s suspected killer, Spc. Aaron David Robinson, 20, died by suicide as police closed in on him.
Robinson's girlfriend, Cecily Anne Aguilar, 22, is accused of helping Robinson dismember Guillen and dispose of her remains. She is charged with one count of conspiracy to tamper with evidence and two substantive counts of tampering with evidence and has pleaded not guilty to all charges, KDHN reports.
Earlier in June, the remains of Pvt. 2nd Class Gregory Wedel-Morales, who had been missing for 10 months, were discovered in a field in Killeen. Police suspect foul play, KTRK reports.
Fernandes is 5 feet, 4 inches tall, and weighs approximately 133 lbs.
Police said he was last seen wearing a black Army physical training shirt and shorts with red athletic shoes. Anyone with information about his disappearance is asked to contact the Fort Hood Military Police at 254-288-1170.