HOUSTON — The U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command has confirmed a soldier identified as a person of interest in the disappearance of Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillen shot and killed himself as police moved in to make an arrest late Tuesday night.
A civilian, who is the estranged wife of a former soldier, was taken into custody, according to the Army.
Authorities have not released either name.
Guillen's sister said Wednesday morning that she had previously met the suspect who killed himself, and she "could tell" something was not right about him. She said the man laughed in her face as the search for Guillen was still underway.
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.
The family believes the Army is "covering up for each other" after the soldier's disappearance and apparent death.
At Wednesday morning's emotional press conference in Washington, D.C., the Guillen family said, while not yet confirmed, they believe the human remains found during a search the day before are that of Guillen's. More remains have been found in the same area.
The 20-year-old Houston native was last seen on April 22 in a parking lot at Fort Hood, and she has not been heard from since, the Army said.
Estranged wife of former soldier is in custody
In a press release, Fort Hood stated the woman in custody is a civilian who is "the estranged wife of a former Fort Hood soldier." As of Wednesday she was being held in the Bell County Jail awaiting charges by civilian authorities.
Suspect who killed himself was active duty military, Army says
At Wednesday morning's press conference, Khawam named the man who took his own life, but authorities have not yet confirmed the name.
“The person of interest was an active duty soldier, and his name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin,” said Killeen PD Chief Charles F. Kimble.
Timeline of arrest attempt, suicide
Kimble also clarified the timeline of events in the suspect’s death. He said the attempted arrest and shooting occurred late Tuesday evening, and the male suspect was officially pronounced dead after 1 a.m. on Wednesday. Earlier reports from police suggested both took place in the early-morning hours on Wednesday.
“On behalf of the Killeen Police Department, I would like to send condolences out to the family of Vanessa Guillen. It’s been a very tragic turn of events," Chief Kimble said at another press conference in Killeen on Wednesday.
“We have made significant progress in this tragic situation and are doing everything possible to get to the truth and bring answers to the family of Pfc. Vanessa Guillen,” stated Chris Grey, the spokesman for Army CID.
Guillen's family says the Army lied to them during the search and the investigation, and they had to find out about the remains found Tuesday from the media. Her mother last week very angrily said she would demand the Army post be shut down if her daughter turned up dead.
Army confirms suspect death and one arrest
Army press release - One military suspect is deceased after taking his own life yesterday in Killeen, Texas, and a civilian suspect has been arrested by the Texas Rangers in connection with the disappearance of Pfc. Vanessa Guillen.
Special Agents from the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, along with the U.S. Marshals, Killeen Police Department, and the Lone Star Fugitive Task Force were attempting to locate the junior Soldier from Fort Hood who fled the post late yesterday. While law enforcement agencies, minus Army CID Special Agents, attempted to make contact with the suspect, the suspect reportedly displayed a weapon and took his own life.
The name of the Soldier will not be released at this time pending the notification of next of kin. The civilian suspect is the estranged wife of a former Fort Hood Soldier and is currently in custody in the Bell County Jail awaiting charges by civilian authorities.
Additionally, the Texas Rangers, with assistance from Army CID and other agencies, are still processing the scene at the Leon River in Bell County, Texas, where partial human remains were discovered yesterday. Coordination has been made with Armed Forces Medical Examiner Services, who will assist with dental x-rays/DNA for identification by the Southwest Institute of Forensic Science, Dallas, Texas. A positive identification of the remains is pending.
“We have made significant progress in this tragic situation and are doing everything possible to get to the truth and bring answers to the family of Pfc. Vanessa Guillen,” said Chris Grey, the spokesman for Army CID.
The 20-year-old Guillen was last seen on the morning of April 22 in the parking lot of her Regimental Engineer Squadron Headquarters, 3rd Cavalry Regiment on Fort Hood, Texas, and had not been heard from since that date.
The Army Criminal Investigation Command has been working closely with multiple law enforcement agencies throughout this investigation to include the FBI, Belton Police Department, Bell County Sheriff’s Department, the United States Marshals Service, the Texas Rangers and the Texas Department of Public Safety.
According to CID officials, this is still an open and ongoing criminal investigation.
“There is still a lot of investigative work to be done and we ask for the public and media’s patience,” Grey said. “There are obviously pieces of information and evidence that cannot be shared with the public during an active criminal investigation. Doing so can seriously jeopardize the charging and successful prosecution of individuals. When important investigative information is prematurely released, criminals can and will destroy evidence, conspire to change their stories, build false alibis, etc.”
No further information will be released at this time.
Persons with information can contact Army CID Special Agents at (254) 287-2722 or the Military Police Desk at (254) 288-1170. They can also anonymously submit information at https://www.cid.army.mil/report-a-crime.html. People wishing to remain anonymous will be honored to the degree allowable under the law and the information will be held in the strictest confidence allowable.