Fort Hood seems to make news headlines every other week. This year alone, there has been a staggering body count. With the alleged suicide of missing solider Sgt. Elder Fernandes, the count has escalated to 26 deaths varying in cause from foul play, to suicide, to illness, accident, and one deployment related incident. Of this number, an astonishing five deaths have been ruled a homicide.
Just months after the grisly murder of Vanessa Guillen, the body of Fernandes, age 23 was located approximately 30 miles away from the Fort Hood Base. The death was ruled a homicide by hanging, following an autopsy.
The young Sgt. was initially considered missing on August 19, 2020. On August 25, 2020, the gruesome discovery of Fernandes remains were found suspended by a tree in close proximity to the railroad tracks. Due to the autopsy report, police do not suspect homicide in this case.
Interestingly, the solider had filed a report alleging sexual misconduct being perpetrated against him. Guillen also had reported sexual allegations near the time of her disappearance; however, her murder appears to be an isolated incident.
Since, the discovery of Fernandes’ body, the United States Army has released information suggesting leadership at Fort Hood is being investigated in lieu of the recent deaths and poor handling of sexual abuse/harassment. Guillen’s death will be further investigated as well.
The original plan was for Maj. Gen. Scott Efflandt to be stationed at Fort Bliss Texas to take over leadership of the 1st Armored Division. However, due to the ongoing investigation into his leadership at Fort Hood, he will continue to be retained. It is expected that name of the new leadership of the 1st Armored Division will soon be released.
May Sgt. Fernandes rest in peace as his body has been reunited with his family in Brockton, Massachusetts earlier in the week. He was flown into Boston Logan International Airport where military members transported the body from the plane and saluted. Waiting family and friends were there to greet the body. Fernandes received military honors.
It appears that allegations of sexual misconduct are no new phenomenon at Fort Hood. According to the U.S. Army Secretary, survey results painted an alarming picture with 18 of 53 soldiers reporting sexual misconduct. Fort Hood’s reputation for lawlessness continues to grow. The Army Secretary also alluded to the fact that Fort Hood sees more incidents of sexual assault/harassment and murder than nearly any other Army base. This begs the question; how many more bodies must pile up before something is done at Fort Hood?