FORT HOOD, TX — The family of missing Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillen met with military officials on Tuesday and said foul play is suspected in her disappearance.
Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia and a local LULAC official accompanied the family.
Vanessa's mother spoke in Spanish and said while she's grateful Army officials invited them for an update today, she felt sick visiting Fort Hood. She says the Army took too long to search for her daughter.
She says she asked Fort Hood to shut down the base and look for Vanessa as soon as she went missing and they didn't do it.
"I told them to search barrack by barrack and they never did it. I seek justice, that they respect Vanessa as a Soldier, as someone who is serving this country," said her mother. She demands the people on base are investigated, especially the Sergeant who she says her daughter said was sexually harassing her.
"I told them I want her alive. She entered alive."
"If my daughter is found dead, close this base immediately," her mother said while crying. "I want her alive, for the love of God. I need my daughter with me. She is my life. That's why I'm fighting until they bring her back and the people who are responsible pay."
"Investigate from the top to the bottom, everyone is responsible."
Vanessa's mother also requested that President Trump and Texas Governor Greg Abbott help with the investigation.
Garcia said Fort Hood officials are convinced foul play is involved at this point and the criminal investigation is ongoing.
The 3rd Cavalry Regiment commander, Col. Ralph Overland, has appointed an investigating team led by a senior investigating officer to conduct a commander’s investigation into allegations that Vanessa Guillen was sexually harassed.
During the family visit, Col. Ralph Overland, 3rd CR commander, and U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division agents updated Garcia and the Guillén family on the most recent searches and status of the investigation, and also showed them Vanessa’s work area and the parking lot where she was last seen.
"We appreciate the opportunity to provide the Guillen family, Congresswoman Garcia, and other congressional delegates a comprehensive update," Overland said. "They are Vanessa's family, and Vanessa is part of our family. We all have the same goal—to find Vanessa and bring her home. The Regiment is fully committed to this and we will not stop until we find her."
Congresswoman Garcia says there are discrepancies about when Fort Hood officials say they started searching for Vanessa and when the family says they tried to contact the base.
Congresswoman Garcia and the Guillen family's lawyer also said the Army told the family the base has regular check-ins through the day. The sergeant who checked their barracks at some point after she went missing reported that Vanessa was there but later admitted he did not actually see her.
"We got to remember this is a story about a family who is hurting," said Garcia. "We are dealing with a tragedy."
Mayra Guillen, Vanessa's older sister, said she hopes the community keeps searching for Vanessa.
The 20-year-old soldier was reported missing from Fort Hood on April 22. She was assigned to 3rd Cavalry Regiment, and was last seen in the parking lot of her Regimental Engineer Squadron Headquarters on Fort Hood. 11:30 was the last time anyone had contact with her.
There is a $50,000 reward for information on her whereabouts.
Anyone with information should contact Army CID Special Agents at 254-495-7767 or the Military Police Desk at 254-287-4001.
They can also contact their local law enforcement agencies.