Vanessa Guillen

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Vanessa Guillen
Vanessa Guillen portrait.jpg
Born 1999-09-30
Died 2020-04-22
Occupation Soldier
Title Specialist

Vanessa Guillen was a soldier in the United States Army who was murdered by a fellow soldier.[1] Prior to her murder, Guillen was targetted for harrassment, abuse, and sexual assault.[2]

Public reaction to the details of her harrassment, her death, and the failure of the Defense Department to put in place protections for soldiers in her situation, led to some reforms in how and when senior officers would be allowed to ignore harrassment complaints.[2]

Guillen went missing on April 22, 2020.[3] An Army investigation concluded Guillen disappearance was due to her murder by fellow soldier Aaron David Robinson, who bludgeoned her with a hammer.[4] Robinson committed suicide after officers questioned him about her disappearance. But Cecily Aguilar, a civilian, faced trial for her role in dismembering and hiding Guillen's body.

The explanation the Army investigation accepted for Robinson's attack on Guillen was that he was trying to hide his sexual relationship with Aguilar, his civilian girlfriend, but Guillan saw her face pop up on his cell phone, when she called him.[5] Aguilar was the estranged wife of another soldier, so Robinson's relationship with her was a breach of regulations.[6] Aguilar claims Robinson told her he subsequently had both vaginal and anal sexual intercourse with her corpse.[2] He put her body in a trash bag, or a plastic bin, and called on Aguilar for help in disposing of it. The pair first dismembered her body, then burned it, then encased it in cement, and then buried it in a riverbank, about 20 miles from the base.

From April 22, until the accidental discovery of her remains, on June 30, the Army listed Guillen as absent without leave.[1] Robinson killed himself, that day, when he say Army investigators were coming to question him.[7]

The Army investigation concluded that Robinson had not been sexually harrassing Guillen, prior to killing her, but acknowledged she had been sexually harrassed. Her family said Guillen had told them about her harrassment, stating she felt she had taken her complaints as far, as she could, in the Army system, without it bouncing back on her.[8] They stated Guillen had told them she had considered committing suicide.[2]

In particular, they dispute the assertion in conclusion that, while Robinson was Guillen's killer, he had not been one of her abusers.[8] They said she told them that Robinson used to spy on her, while she took showers.

Guillen's sister Lupe said she met Robinson during the search for her sister.[9] She said she had a creepy feeling, when she met him, because he laughed and sneered about her sister's disappearance.

Military investigations under Article 32 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice- the military equivalent of a preliminary hearing to determine if there is evidence to justify laying criminal charges, are usually lead by a relatively junior officer, who reports to the officer commanding the unit of the suspects. In this case the Article 32 hearing was conducted by Michael X. Garrett, a senior general.[1] As a result of his investigation 14 officer and non-commissioned officers were relieved of command, or discharged. They included Major General Scott Efflandt, commander of the Corps that contained Guillen's Regiment, and Ralph Overland and Bradley Knapp, her Regiment's commanding officer, and most senior NCO.

Garrett's report named the 14 officers and NCO as particularly responsible for "chronic failures of leadership that contributed to a widespread pattern of violence, including murder, sexual assault and harassment" at the Fort Hood base.[1]

Aguilar was indicted in July of 2021, with tampering with evidence.[10]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Slain Fort Hood soldier was sexually harassed, but not by her killer, investigation finds, KWTX-TV, 2021-04-30. Retrieved on 2022-08-13. mirror
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Acadia Coronado. Family of slain Texas soldier seeking $35 million in damages, Court TV, 2022-08-12. Retrieved on 2022-08-13. “State and federal lawmakers have since passed legislation in honor of Guillen that removed some authority from commanders and gave survivors more options to report.” mirror
  3. Family: Human remains found in Texas are missing soldier, Associated Press, 2020-07-01. Retrieved on 2022-08-13. mirror
  4. Acacia Coronado. Complaint: Missing Texas soldier was killed at Fort Hood, Associated Press, 2020-07-03. Retrieved on 2022-08-13. mirror
  5. Crystal Bonvillian. Vanessa Guillen murder: Was cellphone photo the motive behind brutal Fort Hood slaying?, Action News JAX, 2022-06-02. Retrieved on 2022-08-13. mirror
  6. Affidavit: Fort Hood soldier was bludgeoned to death, dismembered, burned, KCBD, 2020-07-02. Retrieved on 2022-08-13. mirror
  7. Doug Delony. 1 suspect kills self, 1 civilian in custody in disappearance of Vanessa Guillen, Army says, KHOU, 2020-07-01. Retrieved on 2022-08-17. “Family attorney Natalie Khawam said the man is the one who allegedly watched Guillen as she showered at the base. Guillen previously reported the sexual harassment to her family, friends and colleagues, her family said.”
  8. 8.0 8.1 Disturbing details reveal what happened to Vanessa Guillen the night she disappeared from Fort Hood, KHOU, 2020-07-01. Retrieved on 2022-08-17. mirror
  9. Michelle Homer. Vanessa Guillen's sister: 'My sister deserved respect. My sister deserved to be heard.', KHOU, 2020-07-01. Retrieved on 2022-08-17.
  10. Marlene Lenthang. Woman accused of aiding in Vanessa Guillen's death indicted by grand jury: The Fort Hood soldier was brutally murdered last year., ABC News, 2021-07-14. Retrieved on 2022-08-17. “Aguilar was his girlfriend at the time, according to the criminal complaint, and was taken into custody. In July 2020, she was charged with one federal count of conspiracy to tamper with evidence.”