Army Sgt. Elder Fernandes, a 23-year-old Fort Hood Soldier, was reported missing last week after alerting authorities to sexual abuse at the installation, Waco's KBTX reports
“We can confirm there is an open investigation of abuse sexual contact involving Sgt. Fernandes,” Fort Hood public affairs officer Lt. Col. Chris Brautigam said in a statement to the TV station.
Fernandes hasn't been seen since August 17, when he was dropped off in front of his home in Killeen, according to local police. Fort Hood officials appealed to the public for help in the search for the soldier Friday, saying the post’s primary concern is for his health and well-being.
“The unit sexual assault response coordinator has been working closely with Sgt. Fernandes, ensuring he was aware of all his reporting, care, and victim advocacy options,” Brautigam told KBTX. “The unit also facilitated his transfer from a unit who has recently deployed to a different unit within the brigade to ensure he received the proper care and ensure there were no opportunities for reprisals."
Fernandes is the third soldier to go missing from Fort Hood in a year, following Specialist Vanessa Guillén and Pfc. Gregory Morales. Both Guillén and Morales were found dead near the installation earlier this year.
Attorney Natalie Kwaham, who represents Guillén’s family, has agreed to represent Fernandes’ family.
Fernandes is a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear specialist assigned to the 553rd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division Sustainment Brigade. He is 5 feet, 5 inches tall and weighs about 130 pounds. He has black hair and brown eyes, and sports a full sleeve tattoo on his left arm.
Investigators are asking anyone with information to call the Killeen Police Department at (254) 200-7905.
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