FORT HOOD (CBSDFW.COM) – “We were told sexual harassment isn’t illegal. Well guess what — we have a dead person because of sexual harassment.”
Powerful words spoken by Attorney Natalie Kahwam on behalf of the family of missing Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillén laid the ground work for an emotional outcry for justice in the nation’s capital.
While the medical examiner still has not confirmed that partial human remains found near the Leon River in Bell County are Army Pfc. Guillén, her sisters say “everything points to it being her.”
The 20-year-old’s family drove to Washington, D.C. from Texas to demand a Congressional investigation into her disappearance and their assertion that she was sexually assaulted, and ultimately killed by her superior.
That man, fatally shot himself when authorities approached him this week. One of Guillén’s sisters spoke to him before his death, and said he was dismissive and “laughed in her face.”
“They lied to our faces every single day that passed for more than two months. My sister was sexually harassed and no one cared. My sister is a human too. If this can happen to my sister it can happen to anyone else. She deserves justice!” said Vanessa’s sister, Lupe.
The family also alleges the base is covering up for the other two suspects, both of which are currently in custody.
“They falsely accounted for her at 3 p.m. the day she disappeared,” said Kahwam. “What is the cover up for? She was a soldier. Why aren’t they transparent with the family? This was mishandled from the start. It has to be investigated.”
Calling command at Fort Hood evasive and even making claims that human trafficking has happened on base, Kahwam said one of the men involved walked in and watched Guillén while she was taking a shower.
“Imagine you lose your daughter and you’re finding out information from the media? The command doesn’t feel they owe this family anything. They’re savages! They’re dishonorable,” said Kahwam.
In a release sent to CBS 11 News, spokesman for the Army, Chris Grey said, “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 Guillén.”
Kahwam said Guillén reported to her family, other soldiers and friends that her sergeant was sexually harassing her.
Guillén, who was assigned to 3rd Cavalry Regiment, was last seen in the parking lot of her barracks at Fort Hood on April 22. Her car and room keys, identification and wallet were found in an armory room where she had worked earlier in the day, but her cell phone is missing.
Fort Hood started an investigation into the sexual harassment claim on June 18. But Guillén did not report the harassment to her superiors for fear of retaliation.
Before leaving Texas, Gloria Guillén, Vanessa’s mother, said if her daughter comes up dead, she wants Fort Hood to be closed. Paramedics were called to Gloria’s hotel room on Tuesday as she showed symptoms of a possible heart attack.
According to the Army Criminal Investigation Command, the criminal investigation is still ongoing and open.
“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.”
U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D, Hawaii) was also present at the news conference in support of Guillén’s family.