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Elder Fernandes was part of an Army investigation into sexual harassment at Fort Hood when he disappeared. Photo: Bostongloble.com

Elder Fernandes, another soldier vanishes from Fort Hood amid sexual harassment claims

The 23-year-old was reported missing a week ago

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While still seeking justice for Vanessa Guillen, another soldier at Fort Hood has an eerily similar story as hers: He’s gone missing, no one has located him, and it's been over a week at this point.
Sergeant Elder Fernandes was reported missing on Wednesday, Aug. 19. Police in Killeen, Texas said he had not been seen since Monday, Aug.17 when his staff sergeant dropped Fernandes off at home. His vehicle was found in his unit’s parking lot, but he did not go to work the next day when he was supposed to.

The U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division and civilian law enforcement were asked to help according to Fort Hood, after the brigade searched the division area, including its buildings and parking lots, without any luck in finding him. 

In a statement to CNN, the Army said that Fernandes was involved in an ongoing investigation of “abusive sexual assault contact” at the base..

Fernandes’ aunt told KTRK that his disappearance was very unusual, noting that she last spoke with him the Friday before, and he told her he’d call his mom on Sunday, promising to also call his aunt again on Monday.

Unsurprisingly, and as per usual in the military, authorities do not believe at the moment that there was foul play leading to his disappearance. 

Fort Hood public affairs officer, Lieutenant Coronel Chris Brautigam mentioned Fernandes’ interactions with the unit’s sexual assault coordinator, “ensuring he was aware of all his reporting, care, and victim advocacy options.”

Brautigam also noted Fernandes had been transferred “to ensure he received the proper care and ensure there were no opportunities for reprisals.”

A statement from the 1st Cavalry’s Division onAug. 20, said that their priority regarding Fernandes was “finding him and ensuring his safety is a top priority for the Division.”

Fernandes is a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear specialist at Fort Hood. 

He is now the third soldier in the last year to go missing from that army base. 

Vanessa Guillen disappeared in April, and in August of 2019, Gregory Morales also went missing. His body was recovered in June in the search for Guillen. 

The investigation is ongoing into all three cases.

Editor's Note: A previous version of this story mistakenly called Fernandes a Hispanic soldier. His family is from Cape Verde.
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