Family of missing Ft. Hood soldier: ‘We need answers’

U.S.

The missing soldier initiated an abusive sexual contact report before he disappeared on Aug. 19.

KILLEEN, Texas (NewsNation) — The family of Sgt. Elder Fernandes is asking for answers after the soldier disappeared from Fort Hood military base in Texas after initiating an abusive sexual contact report.

Family members of the 23 year old reported him missing to officers on August 19. He was last seen by his Staff Sergeant on August 17, when he dropped him off at his home.

Lieutenant Colonel Chris Brautigam says the unit sexual assault response coordinator had been working closely with Sgt. Fernandes to ensure he was aware of all his reporting, care, and victim advocacy options.

LTC Brautigam says Sgt. Fernandes was deployed to a different unit within the brigade to ensure he received the proper care and ensure there were no opportunities for reprisals.

Fernandes’ family says he was coming home from the hospital, but the soldier’s aunt, Isabel Neves-Fernandes told NewsNation affiliate KWKT the information doesn’t add up.

“[He was] dropped off at an address that supposedly he [Elder Fernandes] gave him, but he does not live at that address. His car is at the base filled with his belongings, and he rented an apartment, paid for the apartment, set up all the utilities, never showed up to get the keys, and he’s M.I.A.,” said Neves-Fernandes.

She also says the family still doesn’t know why he was hospitalized in the first place. Fernandes says when they last heard from Elder he seemed okay and said he would call them when he got out of the hospital on August 16.

After days without communication, the family says they have growing concerns after reading about the killing of Spc. Vanessa Guillen this spring, whose remains were discovered on Fort Hood’s base nearly seven weeks ago. Investigators say Guillen, 20, was killed by Spc. Aaron Robinson, who killed himself on July 1 as police were trying to take him into custody.

Right now, his mother Ailina Neves is in Killeen. She arrived Wednesday from their hometown of Braintree, Massachusetts to look for him.

“She’s lost. She’s driving around like a crazy person trying to find him herself,” said Neves-Fernandes.

“Obviously, something is going on at that base. With all the other numbers of soldiers that have disappeared from there. This is not normal. Something is going on there and somebody needs to do something,” said Neves-Fernandes.

A statement from Fort Hood says:

“We have completed a search of the entire division area, to include motorpools, parking lots, and headquarters buildings and the unit is in contact with the soldier’s family, the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division and civilian law enforcement agencies to help find him as we continue our search.”

FORT HOOD

The Killeen Police Department and the U.S. Army is actively searching for the soldier. On Friday, the military base tweeted a second flyer asking for the public’s help in locating him.

Fernandes is approximately 5’4” tall and weighs approximately 133 pounds. He was last seen wearing black army shorts and a t-shirt with red athletic shoes.

Anyone with information about Sgt. Elder Fernandes should contact the Killeen Police Department at (254) 200-7905 or the Fort Hood CID Office at (254) 287-2722.

NewsNation affiliate KWKT contributed to this report.

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