Woman charged in Fort Hood soldier’s disappearance makes court appearance

Published: Jul. 1, 2020 at 3:38 AM CDT|Updated: Jul. 7, 2020 at 10:19 AM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) – Cecily Anne Aguilar, 22, of Killeen, who’s accused of helping her boyfriend dismember and bury the body of Fort Hood Spc. Vanesa Guillen, 20, is held without bond after an initial appearance Monday morning before a federal magistrate judge.

She’s charged with conspiracy to tamper with evidence with intent to impair a human corpse, according to online records.

The offense carries a potential maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 14.

Attorney Lewis Berray Gainor was appointed to defend Aguilar.

During the Zoom hearing Monday morning authorities revealed that Aguilar’s boyfriend, Spc. Aaron David Robinson, of Calumet City, Ill., admitted early last week during a phone call to Aguilar, as an investigator listened in, that he killed Guillen.

A chilling federal affidavit released late last Thursday afternoon says Robinson beat Guillen, with a hammer and that her body was later dismembered and burned.

Robinson shot himself in the head early last Wednesday morning in the 4700 block of East Rancier Avenue as Killeen officers approached him.

He died at the scene.

Authorities later arrested Aguilar, the estranged wife of a former Fort Hood soldier.

She was transferred last Friday from the Bell County Jail to the McLennan County Jail.

Guillen was last seen sometime between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on April 22 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.

The affidavit filed in Aguilar’s case says on April 22 Guillen left the room in which she was working to visit the arms room that Robinson controlled to confirm serial numbers of weapons and equipment.

Robinson, who was one of the last people to see Guillen, told investigators Guillen checked several serial numbers and he then gave her the paperwork and serial number for a .50 caliber machine gun that needed repairs, the affidavit says.

“He said she left the arms room and he believed she would have gone next to the motor pool,” but soldiers there told investigators she never arrived, the affidavit says.

Aguilar initially told investigators that she was with Robinson all night on April 22, but on June 30 she admitted that Robinson told her “he struck a female soldier in the head with a hammer multiple times at his arms room, killing her on Fort Hood,” the affidavit says.

“Spc. Robinson then placed her in a box and moved the box to a location near the Leon River,” the affidavit says.

Two witnesses told investigators they saw Robinson pulling a large, wheeled “tough box” out of the arms room in which he worked, load it into his vehicle and drive away, the affidavit says.

Late on April 22 or early on the morning of April 23, Robinson picked up Aguilar at a gas station and took her to the site near the river, the affidavit says.

“Robinson walked Aguilar over to the woods and opened up a box for Aguilar and she saw a dead female inside the box. Aguilar, on a later date, identified the dead female as Vanessa Guillen,” the affidavit says.

“To more easily dispose of and to conceal the body of the dead female, Spc. Robinson and Aguilar proceeded to dismember the dead female’s body. They used a hatchet or ax and a machete type knife. They removed the limbs and the head from the body. Spc. Robinson and Aguilar attempted to burn the body; however, the body would not burn completely. They placed the dead female in three separate holes and covered up the remains.”

The two returned to the site on April 26, uncovered the remains and “continued the process of breaking down the remains,” which were burned again.

Cellphone records showed that both Robinson and Aguilar were near the Leon River together on April 23 and again on April 26, the affidavit says.

Authorities searched the area on June 21 and discovered a burn site and “what appeared to be the burned remains of a plastic tote or tough box” in an area near where Robinson’s phone was pinged.

Nine days later, on June 30, contractors working on a fence along the river discovered what appeared to be human remains.

Investigators searched the area “and identified scattered human remains that appeared to have been placed into a concrete-like substance and buried.”

The remains have not yet been confirmed to be Guillen’s.

The affidavit does not suggest a motive for the killing.

Robinson was assigned to Alpha Company, 3rd Cavalry Regiment at Fort Hood.

He was not Guillen’s supervisor, but did work in a building adjacent to where Guillen worked, Fort Hood CID Special Agent Damon Phelps said during a news conference earlier Thursday.

An investigation into allegations that Guillen, who was promoted to the rank of specialist on July 1, was sexually harassed continues, Fort Hood’s senior commander, Maj. Gen. Scott Efflandt said during the news conference, but so far authorities have made no connection between the allegations and her disappearance.

The investigation, he said, “has not found any connection between sexual harassment and Vanessa’s disappearance.”

“However all sexual harassment allegations are being investigated in this case as they are in every other instance because sexual harassment is categorically adverse to our army values.”

Efflandt said he regrets he wasn’t able to address all of Guillen’s family’s concerns.

“What I was able to share was tempered by my responsibility to protect the integrity of the investigation so we could find Vanessa…and prosecute those responsible for this travesty…and be in a position to punish them,”

“Vanessa Guillen is a loss for all of us,” he said.

Fort Hood said DNA and dental records are being used to make a positive identification of the remains.

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his wife Jill joined the growing numbers expressing sympathy to Guillen’s family Friday.

“Jill and I are heartbroken by the senseless loss of Specialist Vanessa Guillén and our condolences go out to her family and loved ones. We owe it to those who put on the uniform, and to their families, to put an end to sexual harassment and assault in the military, and hold perpetrators accountable.

Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy, in a Facebook post earlier Friday, asked for patience as state, federal and military authorities work “to find the truth and bring justice for Vanessa and her family.”

LULAC, meanwhile, says it will demand the creation of an independent agency “outside of the military protocol” to investigate reports of rapes, assaults and sexual harassment.

The group will meet with the Secretary of the Army in a few days, LULAC President Domingo Garcia said Friday.

The Army announced earlier this week that a seven-member inspector general team was sent to Fort Hood to review the post’s Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) program.

The seven-member team is reviewing the program’s implementation, “assessing whether the command climate is supportive of soldiers reporting incidents of sexual harassment and sexual assault” and “Identifying any potentially systemic issues with the SHARP program at Fort Hood, as well as any resource constraints.”

The press release did not indicate whether the review was prompted by Guillen’s disappearance.

Guillen’s family alleges Guillen was the target of sexual harassment on post.

Guillen’s sister, Mayra, during an emotional news conference Wednesday morning in Washington, D.C., said in Spanish she earlier met Robinson and said he laughed in her face when she asked about Guillen.

Family members and their attorney, are demanding answers from post officials about what happened to Guillen.

Supporters have launched petitions on change.org calling on officials to hold the Army accountable, and to close down Fort Hood altogether.

By early afternoon Thursday, each had more than 200,000 signatures.

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