More remains found in search for missing Fort Hood private

Published: Jun. 30, 2020 at 3:53 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 1, 2020 at 5:32 PM CDT
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FORT HOOD, Texas (KWTX/Gray News) – More remains were found Wednesday in the search for missing Fort Hood Pfc. Vanessa Guillen, 20, who disappeared without a trace more than two months ago.

One suspect in her disappearance is dead and at least one other suspect is in custody.

Investigators found the additional remains Wednesday after returning to an area near the Leon River where partial remains were discovered Tuesday in a shallow grave.

Authorities returned to the site Wednesday morning to process the scene for evidence using drones and cadaver dogs while DNA and dental records are being used in an effort to identify the remains found Tuesday, officials said.

Early Wednesday a Fort Hood soldier who was wanted in connection with Guillen’s disappearance shot himself to death as Killeen officers approached him.

Texas Rangers have arrested the estranged wife of a former Fort Hood soldier in connection with the disappearance and an attorney for Guillen’s family said Wednesday that a second suspect was in custody, as well.

Attorney Natalie Khawam said during a virtual news conference Wednesday in Washington, D.C., that evidence connects the remains to the missing soldier, but provided no specifics.

A resident who smelled an unusual odor in the area Tuesday called the Bell County Sheriff’s Office, which found the remains in a shallow grave near where Texas Equusearch volunteers scoured the river earlier as part of their effort to find Guillen, who disappeared sometime between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on April 22.

“The search is over,” the group’s founder, Tim Miller, told KWTX as he left to head for the scene.

Guillen was last seen in the parking lot of her 3rd Cavalry Regiment Engineer Squadron Headquarters.

Keys to her car and her barracks room and her ID card and wallet were later found in the armory room where she had worked earlier in the day.

She was last seen wearing a black T-shirt and purple fitness-type pants.

Guillen, an avid runner, is 5-foot-2, weighs 126 pounds and has black hair and brown eyes.

A reward totaling $50,000 is offered for information leading to her whereabouts.

Anguish and anger of missing soldier’s mother inspired California artist

(Courtesy of Cherine Mendoza)
(Courtesy of Cherine Mendoza)(Courtesy photo)

The anguish and anger of the mother of the missing soldier, Gloria Guillen, as she spoke at a news conference on June 23, inspired a California artist to create images of Vanessa to share on social media.

“Hearing her mom speak at that press conference tore me apart. I just had my baby and as a mother, I just clicked with her,” said Cherine Mendoza, who lives in the Los Angeles area.

Mendoza used to paint pictures of such historical figures as Frida, Yalitza, and Selena, but since hearing Vanessa’s story she says she feels called, as a mother and a Latina, to create art that can inform others on what is happening in the world today.

“I needed to do this,” she said.

“I am not an activist, I’m not out there, I have kids so I have to connect my artwork with what is going on,” Mendoza said.

“They need to hear us roar and that we are with her (Gloria) and someone like me who doesn’t know her I feel her pain and I am going to try to contribute in any way that I can,” Mendoza said.

Copyright 2020 Gray Media Group via KWTX. All rights reserved.