The soldier was set to be discharged within a couple of days when he disappeared, according to the Army. Despite the reward for the missing soldier, Morales still appears to be listed as a deserter by the Army, with the date of desertion one month after he was last seen.
Morales’ disappearance was highlighted during a press conference last week by the sister of another missing soldier, Pfc. Vanessa Guillen, who drew comparisons between the two cases. Guillen went missing in April. Her family has lobbied for Army CID and Fort Hood officials to be more transparent about the ongoing investigation and search process.
Army CID spokesman Chris Grey said Monday that there is no credible connection investigators have found linking Guillen’s disappearance to that of Morales.
Morales was last seen driving his personal vehicle off-post in the town of Killeen on the night of Aug. 19, 2019. He was driving a 2018 Black KIA Rio with temporary Texas license tags – 46190B3, according to the Army. The vehicle has since been recovered by authorities.
Army CID officials said Monday that the reward for information leading to the whereabouts of Guillen has been raised to $25,000.
“The last known verbal contact with Morales was Aug. 20, 2019, and he has not been seen or heard from since that date,” an Army CID statement reads. “Morales was out processing from the Army and was scheduled to be discharged within a couple of days when he disappeared.”
Kim Wedel, Morales’ mother, told local Texas media that her daughter-in-law tracked down Morales’ vehicle on Carfax. It was in Dallas this December and is now held by Army CID. She also said she does not believe her son would have intentionally vanished given that he was set to be discharged.
“What it would tell me is that they also suspect something has happened at this point, beyond him just going AWOL,” Kim Wedel said.
Morales could also be using the last name Wedel, which was the name he was using prior to his marriage, the Army stated. Morales was born and raised in Oklahoma but he was known to associate with numerous civilians in and around Central Texas.
Army CID officials “are convinced someone knows the whereabouts of Morales and are encouraging people to come forward for the sake of Morales’ wife, step children, mother and fellow soldiers," the statement reads.
Persons with information can contact Army CID Special Agents at 254-287-2722 or the Military Police Desk at 254-288-1170.
Officials are still encouraging those with credible information to contact Army CID through their web-based crime tip submission site.
Those who wish to remain anonymous “will be honored to the degree allowable under the law and the information will be held in the strictest confidence allowable,” Army CID stated.