Vanessa Guillen's Family Says Army Lied to Them After Sexual Harassment Allegations

Vanessa Guillen's family believes the missing soldier's remains were found Tuesday

Vanessa Guillen
Vanessa Guillen. Photo: US Army

The family of Vanessa Guillen is demanding a congressional investigation into her case and alleging the Army lied to them repeatedly after the 20-year-old vanished from Fort Hood in April.

Human remains were found Tuesday near the Leon River in Bell County, Texas, and the family said Wednesday they believe the remains are Guillen's.

Family members previously said Guillen had complained about being sexually harassed by her sergeant but had been afraid to report it. The Army opened up an investigation into the allegations in June.

In an interview with PEOPLE, attorney Natalie Khawam says she believes Guillen was sexually harassed by the suspect in the case, a soldier who killed himself as police closed in on him Wednesday. That soldier has not been publicly identified, and it's unclear if that soldier was Guillen's sergeant.

According to Khawam, the man followed Guillen into the shower and sat down. KHOU reports Khawam said Guillen was "creeped out" by the incident.

Vanessa Guillen, a 20-year-old Soldier stationed at Fort Hood, Texas.
Vanessa Guillen. Fort Hood US Army

At a Wednesday press conference, Guillen's sister Lupe said the family's attempts to get answers surrounding Guillen's disappearance and allegations of harassment were met with lies from Fort Hood personnel.

"They lied to our faces every single day ... which is more than two months," Lupe said.

Lupe added that Fort Hood personnel "didn't respect my sister. They didn't keep my sister safe. They're always trying to cover up for each other."

"My sister deserved respect," Lupe added. "She deserves to be heard. Because if this could happen to my sister, it could happen to anyone else."

Khawam says a congressional investigation could help answer the family's questions: "Who knew what? Why — why there was a coverup? Why didn't [they] share this information? What happened?"

Fort Hood did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's inquiry about the allegations.

Vanessa Guillen
Vanessa Guillen.

Khawam also says she plans to pressure lawmakers to adopt legislation in Guillen's honor that would mandate sexual harassment complaints be investigated by a third-party entity.

"That's why people don't like to be disclosing anything, because then it gets around, it's loose lips," Khawam says.

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Guillen was a small arms repairer with the 3rd Cavalry Regiment. She was last seen alive on April 22 when she was spotted in a parking lot at squadron headquarters in Fort Hood.

Her car keys, barracks room key, identification card and wallet were later found in the armory room where she had been working earlier in the day.

Her case drew widespread attention in mid-June when actress Salma Hayek shared an Instagram post calling for more information.

Vanessa Guillen
Vanessa Guillen.

The United States Army Criminal Investigation Command said in a statement to PEOPLE that the suspect who took his own life fled Fort Hood on Tuesday.

"While law enforcement agencies attempted to make contact with the suspect, the suspect reportedly displayed a weapon and took his own life," the statement says.

Authorities also arrested another suspect, who the U.S. Army identifies as "the estranged wife of a former Fort Hood Soldier."

She is currently in custody in the Bell County Jail awaiting unspecified charges. Authorities have not revealed her identity.

Updated by Christine Pelisek
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