KILLEEN, Texas - The United States Army has released its report on internal missteps surrounding the murder of U.S. Army specialist Vanessa Guillen.
Army investigators believe the 20-year-old Houstonian was beaten to death with a hammer by Specialist Aaron Robinson in an arms room at Fort Hood on April 22, 2020.
"We as an Army failed to protect specialist Guillen. It’s something we are learning from, studying, and using to drive our Army forward," said Major General Gene LeBoeuf.
On June 30, 2020 Guillen's remains were located near the Leon River. Cellphone data placed Robinson and his girlfriend, Cecily Aguilar in the same area. The same day, Aguilar told investigators Robinson killed Guillen, and the couple disposed of her body together.
Robinson was held in a conference room on Fort Hood and watched by other soldiers. Still, when he learned Guillen's remains had been discovered he left post. "Baby, they found the pieces, they found the pieces," he warned Aguilar in a call. When confronted by the Killeen Police Department hours later he killed himself.
Army officials now say Robinson was able to leave post due to "poor communication." Writing investigators failed to communicate that he was "a soldier of heightened interest."
Officials say Robinson sexually harassed a female soldier on base from April to September 2019. But maintain there is no credible evidence he harassed Guillen.
The report states Guillen was sexually harassed by her superior in two separate incidents. When Guillen alerted her unit leadership they "failed to take appropriate action."
"We found many inconsistencies in this report. Vanessa’s case was severely mishandled, and therefore this report reflects a lot of damage control. We are troubled that the names of the soldiers that sexually harassed Vanessa are being omitted. It’s heartbreaking and frustrating for all of us." said Natalie Khawam, Guillen family attorney.
The report states that soldiers in Guillen's unit were not adequately trained in sexual harassment and sexual assault prevention programs.
"This report evidences why our soldiers need and deserve to have the rights and protections that the I Am Vanessa Guillen Act provides. This all should have never happened and our soldiers deserve to be treated like human beings not like 2nd class citizens! Without the I Am Vanessa Guillen Act, there will never be any real accountability and our soldiers and their families will continue to suffer." Khawam said, referencing legislation she is advocating for with the Guillen family.
The "I am Vanessa Guillen Act" would change the way the U.S. Military handles sexual misconduct.
21 soldiers have received administrative punishment as a result of this investigation. A criminal investigation is still being carried out by the FBI, Army CID, and other law enforcement agencies.
"We are committed to rebuild our bond among our soldiers, with the American people and more specifically with the mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, family, and friends who trust us to support and defend our nation with their sons and daughters. We owe it to them and that is our promise." said LeBoeuf.