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Fort Hood officials confirm remains were those of missing soldier

Published: Jul. 5, 2020 at 5:52 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 7, 2020 at 11:04 AM CDT
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FORT HOOD, Texas (KWTX) – Maj. Gen. Scott Efflandt, III Corps deputy commanding general confirmed Monday evening that a DNA analysis confirmed remains found on June 30 near the Leon River in Bell County were those of missing Army Spc. Vanessa Guillen.

Efflandt said he had hoped Guillen would be found alive and returned to her family.

“We all feel her loss, the of a vibrant young soldier,” he said.

Third Cavalry Regiment commander Col. Ralph Overland described Guillen Monday evening as “caring and expert in her craft.”

Natalie Khawam, the attorney who represents Guillen’s family, confirmed the identification Sunday.

The Armed Forces Medical Examiner System at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware performed the analysis.

“There are no words that can express the sorrow and loss that the family has endured, but we hope in some very small way, the collective efforts of everyone involved in finding Vanessa and working to bring those responsible to justice will help bring some degree of closure to the family who has had to endure this painful and senseless loss,” said Brig. Gen. Duane Miller, the acting commanding general of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command.

Guillen was last seen sometime between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on April 22 in the parking lot of her 3rd Cavalry Regiment Engineer Squadron Headquarters.

Keys to her car and her barracks room and her ID card and wallet was later found in the armory room where she had worked earlier in the day.

According to a federal affidavit, Spc. Aaron David Robinson, of Calumet City, Ill., beat Guillen to death with a hammer and, with help from his girlfriend, Cecily Anne Aguilar, 22, of Killeen, dismembered and burned the soldier’s body.

Robinson was assigned to Alpha Company, 3rd Cavalry Regiment at Fort Hood.

He was not Guillen’s supervisor, but did work in a building adjacent to where Guillen worked, Fort Hood CID Special Agent Damon Phelps said during a news conference last week.

Robinson shot himself in the head early last Wednesday morning in the 4700 block of East Rancier Avenue as Killeen officers approached him.

Aguilar remains in custody after an initial appearance before a federal magistrate judge Monday morning in Waco.

The affidavit filed in Aguilar’s case says on April 22 Guillen left the room in which she was working to visit the arms room that Robinson controlled to confirm serial numbers of weapons and equipment.

Robinson, who was one of the last people to see Guillen, told investigators Guillen checked several serial numbers and he then gave her the paperwork and serial number for a .50 caliber machine gun that needed repairs, the affidavit says.

“He said she left the arms room and he believed she would have gone next to the motor pool,” but soldiers there told investigators she never arrived, the affidavit says.

Aguilar initially told investigators that she was with Robinson all night on April 22, but on June 30 she admitted that Robinson told her “he struck a female soldier in the head with a hammer multiple times at his arms room, killing her on Fort Hood,” the affidavit says.

“Spc. Robinson then placed her in a box and moved the box to a location near the Leon River,” the affidavit says.

Two witnesses told investigators they saw Robinson pulling a large, wheeled “tough box” out of the arms room in which he worked, load it into his vehicle and drive away, the affidavit says.

Late on April 22 or early on the morning of April 23, Robinson picked up Aguilar at a gas station and took her to the site near the river, the affidavit says.

“Robinson walked Aguilar over to the woods and opened up a box for Aguilar and she saw a dead female inside the box. Aguilar, on a later date, identified the dead female as Vanessa Guillen,” the affidavit says.

“To more easily dispose of and to conceal the body of the dead female, Spc. Robinson and Aguilar proceeded to dismember the dead female’s body. They used a hatchet or ax and a machete type knife. They removed the limbs and the head from the body. Spc. Robinson and Aguilar attempted to burn the body; however, the body would not burn completely. They placed the dead female in three separate holes and covered up the remains.”

The two returned to the site on April 26, uncovered the remains and “continued the process of breaking down the remains,” which were burned again.

Cellphone records showed that both Robinson and Aguilar were near the Leon River together on April 23 and again on April 26, the affidavit says.

Authorities searched the area on June 21 and discovered a burn site and “what appeared to be the burned remains of a plastic tote or tough box” in an area near where Robinson’s phone was pinged.

Nine days later, on June 30, contractors working on a fence along the river discovered what appeared to be human remains.

Investigators searched the area “and identified scattered human remains that appeared to have been placed into a concrete-like substance and buried.”

The remains have not yet been confirmed to be Guillen’s.

The affidavit does not suggest a motive for the killing.

Copyright 2020 KWTX. All rights reserved.

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