Nearly 20 years later, family still seeking answers to local soldier’s murder

Pfc. Amanda Gonzales was murdered while serving in the United States Army. To this day, nobody has been arrested for the crime.
Published: Jul. 13, 2020 at 10:54 PM CDT
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ROBERTSON COUNTY, Texas (KBTX) - At a small cemetery in Hearne, Amanda Gonzales is laid to rest but her family has been restless for nearly two decades following the 19-year-old’s brutal murder.

Gonzales, who was born in Hearne and raised in Madisonville, was found in her barracks room on a now-shuttered Army base in Hanau, Germany on November 5, 2001. To this day, nobody has been arrested for her death nor has any motive been discovered. Gonzales was five-months pregnant when she was beaten and strangled by someone.

Her death has haunted her father, Santos Gonzales, who now resides in Bryan.

“I hope they find who did this before I pass away,” said Gonzales on the phone with KBTX Monday morning. “I’m heartbroken. I have a million questions that nobody can answer and it feels like a coverup. Her death was put on the back burner and they won’t release any information. I’ve tried. They won’t tell me anything.”

Gonzales’s mother, Gloria Bates, now resides in the Dallas area. She and her husband, Mike, spoke with us last week via Zoom.

“Things are happening in the military and they’re allowing a code of silence to cover it up and they’re not telling us, parents, anything because they’re keeping to themselves,” said Bates.

Stephanie Jackson is Gonzales’s cousin and has used social media to put the spotlight back on the cold case. She says it has received a lot more attention following the death of Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillen.

Bates says the two cases are very similar and hearing about Vanessa’s murder in the news has ripped open old wounds that were never fully healed.

“When I saw the news and that she [Vanessa] was murdered, I thought oh my God, this is my daughter all over again,” said Bates.

They have now joined the families of other soldiers who have been murdered while serving. They have demanded more transparency from the military and changes in the ranks due to the way the cases are handled. As the push continues for justice in the murder of Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillen, her family and attorney are planning their next steps.

Those next steps include the #IAmVanessaGuillen bill and a protest on July 30 in the nation’s capital. The bill would create an independent avenue for military members to report sexual harassment and assault.

On Friday, Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy announced the Army would be conducting an independent investigation of Fort Hood and “the command culture and climate.”

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