The U.S. Army is searching for another missing Fort Hood soldier, 23-year-old Sergeant Elder N. Fernandes, who was last seen by members of his unit on Monday at a residence in Killeen, Texas. The army base has faced scrutiny after several soldiers from the Texas facility have gone missing or died this year — including Specialist Vanessa Guillen, whose remains were discovered nearly seven weeks ago.
The Army’s Criminal Investigation Command asked the public for help on Friday, tweeting out a flyer and description of Fernandes. Soldiers have indicated that Fernandes may have left the base of his own accord, according to the Army. Fernandes did not report to work on Tuesday as scheduled, and his only known vehicle was on base at his unit’s parking lot, the Army said.
The 1st Calvary Division said they do not suspect foul play and that they are “fully committed to finding him and ensuring his well-being.”
Fernandes, who is Black, was last seen wearing a black Army physical training shirt and shorts with black, orange, and yellow athletic shoes, the Army said in a press release.
“We are very concerned about the welfare of this Soldier and first and foremost we want to ensure he is okay,” said Christopher Grey, a spokesman for the Criminal Investigation Command. “If someone out there has any information, regardless of how trivial you may think it is, we are asking you to contact us immediately.”
Fernandes’ aunt said on Facebook that he has “a heart of gold.”
“His heart is so big that he joined the Army to protect and serve,” she wrote. “We need answers, we need to find him alive and soon.”
Officials in Massachusetts, where Fernandes is from, have urged people to report any information about his whereabouts. State Representative Liz Miranda tweeted out his photo, saying that Fernandes’ car “was found with all his belongings.”
“He recently signed a new lease and never picked up the keys to his apartment,” she said. “We are very concerned about his well being.”
Senator Elizabeth Warren also tweeted out information about the disappearance, saying she and her husband “are praying for his family and his safe return.”
The death of Specialist Vanessa Guillen, whose remains were identified in July, has sparked an independent investigation into the Army base. Guillen is believed to have been murdered by a fellow soldier who later died by suicide.
Several Fort Hood soldiers have died on or near the base this year. Foul play has not been ruled out in many of the cases, officials said earlier this month.
Specialist Francisco Gilberto Hernandezvargas, 24, died in a boating accident on a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reservoir near the Fort Hood base on August 2. Private Mejhor Morta, 26, was found unresponsive on July 17 in the same area.
On March 9, Specialist Christopher Wayne Sawyer, 29, was found unresponsive in his residence on the base and later died. The skeletal remains of Private Gregory Scott Morales, 24, who went missing last August, were found on June 19.
First published on August 21, 2020 / 6:50 PM
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