Spc. Vanessa Guillen was allegedly killed on April 22, the day of her disappearance, by Spc. Aaron David Robinson while she was on duty in an armory room on Fort Hood, Texas, an attorney for the Guillen family said.
Natalie Khawam, the attorney, said the information was provided to her during a four-hour meeting with officials from Army Criminal Investigation Command. Fort Hood officials declined to comment on this narrative of events inside the armory when asked during a press conference Thursday and by Army Times over the telephone.
Robinson, 20, allegedly attacked Guillen, also 20, with a hammer, Khawam told Army Times.
“This heinous act caused her blood to be splashed all over the armory room,” Khawam said in the statement to Army Times.
After Guillen was dead, Robinson allegedly contacted his married girlfriend “to help him bury her bloody body,” Khawam added. “At first they tried to set her on fire, but she wouldn’t burn. Then they dismembered this beautiful U.S. soldier’s body with a machete.”
Local police issued a “Be On the Lookout” notice for Robinson after he fled post on Tuesday afternoon, Khawam told reporters during a press conference in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. Local police off-post in the city of Killeen were notified by Army CID agents that Robinson was a person of interest in Guillen’s death.
Army CID Senior Special Agent Damon Phelps declined to discuss how Robinson was able to slip away from Fort Hood.
“He was not in CID custody at the time, so I can’t answer further,” Phelps said. “I can’t detail anything about the ongoing investigation.”
Law enforcement tracked Robinson to the 4700 block of East Rancier Ave., but as officers attempted to make contact, “the suspect produced a weapon and committed suicide by shooting himself,” Killeen police said.
A woman identified by Khawam as Robinson’s married girlfriend was booked at Bell County Jail for an unknown offense, according to inmate records, which stated that she is a 22-year-old resident of Killeen.
She is just being held by the county, Killeen police told Army Times on Thursday. If charges come, it will be from federal authorities, and there are no charges yet, they added. The civilian suspect was not named during the press conference Thursday.
Guillen’s unit, the 3rd Cavalry Regiment, has also opened an investigation into allegations brought forth by her family that she suffered from sexual harassment by a supervisor.
“She was afraid to [report it] because the sexual harassment was coming from her superiors, so her concern was the retaliation, being blackballed,” Khawam explained during the press conference. “We believe the person that killed her is that person that sexually harassed her.”
Phelps said Army CID has found no evidence of those allegations. He called Robinson a “coworker” and not a supervisor to Guillen.
The Army has separately opened an investigation into the Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention, or SHARP, program at Fort Hood.
Seven personnel from the Army Forces Command Inspector General arrived this week to begin their inquiry, Fort Hood officials said. The team will examine the SHARP program’s implementation at Fort Hood and assess whether the command climate is supportive of soldiers reporting incidents of sexual harassment and assault.
On Tuesday, partial human remains were discovered about 30 miles from Fort Hood along the Leon River, according to Army CID. A positive identification has yet to be announced publicly, but Khawam said that the remains are suspected to be those of Guillen.
“Sooner or later the truth will come out because we are not going to stop,” said Guillen’s older sister, Myra, during Wednesday’s press conference in D.C. “We have to know everything.”
Guillen was a private first class at the time of her disappearance. She became a specialist due to time in service at the beginning of July. Guillen entered the Army in June 2018 as a small arms repairer.
Robinson, of Calumet City, Illinois, entered the Army in October 2017 as a combat engineer. Both soldiers were members of 3rd Cavalry Regiment’s engineer squadron, though they were assigned to different troops.
Kyle Rempfer is an editor and reporter whose investigations have covered combat operations, criminal cases, foreign military assistance and training accidents. Before entering journalism, Kyle served in U.S. Air Force Special Tactics and deployed in 2014 to Paktika Province, Afghanistan, and Baghdad, Iraq.