Elder Fernandes, Fort Hood’s Last Latino Soldier to Lose His Life In ‘Murky Circumstances’

Photo courtesy of bostonglobe.com Belatina, Latinx
Photo courtesy of bostonglobe.com

Almost two months after the remains of 20-year-old Latino soldier Vanessa Guillen were found, the death of another missing Latino soldier has left his family in pieces.

Sgt. Elder Fernandes, 23, was likely found dead last Wednesday, his family’s lawyer said, becoming another victim who disappeared under murky circumstances at the Texas military facility, the Washington Post reported.

Fernandes was last seen on Aug. 17 by members of his unit in a house in Killeen, the Army said. He had previously reported an “incident of abusive sexual contact,” which is currently under investigation.

Fernandes was hospitalized at Fort Hood on Aug. 11 and released on Aug. 17, the last day he was seen, his family said, adding that they grew concerned when he did not call his mother as promised. His blue BMW was found at his unit parking lot, the family told The Post.

Temple police received a medical call last Tuesday at 5:36 p.m. saying a male had been seen near some railroad tracks, according to the statement. When officers arrived, they determined the man was dead, NBC reported.

Army officials asked to meet with the Fernandes family on Tuesday evening, according to the family’s attorney, Natalie Khawam. Army officials told them a body was found hanging in a tree in Temple, about 25 miles east of the installation. A black backpack at the scene contained identification that belonged to the soldier, Khawam said.

“One of our worst nightmares again has happened,” said Khawam, who is also representing the Guillén family pro bono. “One of our own, Sgt. Elder Fernandes was found dead after reporting sexual assault at Fort Hood.”

Khawan demanded a congressional investigation into what may be happening at Fort Hood. At this facility, soldiers’ disappearances and deaths have been a recurring issue over the past few months.

According to NBC, in addition to Guillén and Fernandes, three more soldiers have lost their lives in murky conditions.

Earlier this month, Fort Hood officials recovered the body of 24-year-old Francisco Gilberto Hernández-Vargas after a boating incident on August 2 on Stillhouse Hollow Lake, a reservoir administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Fort Worth District.

Mejhor Morta, 26, was found unaccounted for July 17, also in the vicinity of the lake, according to Fort Hood officials.

On June 21, bone remains were found in a field in Killeen, just over 10 miles from the lake, which was later identified as missing 24-year-old Fort Hood soldier Gregory Morales. U.S. Army officials have said they suspect foul play in his death.