Fort Hood Soldier Discovered Hanging From Tree

Fort Hood Military Base
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A body found hanging from a tree about 30 miles from the Fort Hood Army base is believed to be that soldier of Sgt. Elder Fernandes who had gone missing last week is believed, if true, this would make at least the 15th death linked to the embattled Texas base in recent months.

Sgt. Elder Fernandes, 23, who was the alleged victim of sexual abuse, was last seen Aug. 17 when a superior dropped him off at a home in Killeen, officials said.

Fort Hood said Fernandes had transferred units after reporting sexual abuse, though more details about his claims haven’t been released.

Police received a call around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday that a man had been seen near some railroad tracks. When authorities arrived, they determined the man was dead.

Natalie Khawam, the Fernandes family’s attorney, said Army officials told his relatives that the body was found hanging from a tree.

Police said foul play is not suspected, but they’re investigating and an autopsy has been ordered.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Fernandes family during this challenging time,” Temple Police Chief Shawn Reynolds said.

Sgt. Elder Fernandes is the third soldier from Fort Hood to go missing in the past year.

The two other soldiers were also later found dead in what has been a series of at least 15 deaths linked this year to the troubled base — including Pfc. Vanessa Guillen whose remains were located July 1 near Leon River in Bell County, about 20 miles east of Fort Hood.

Guillen, 20 was believed to have been bludgeoned to death at the base by a fellow soldier, Spc. Aaron David Robinson, 20, who later killed himself.

The army ordered a probe into Fort Hood’s climate in the aftermath of Guillen’s death. Her family said she had been sexually harassed by another solider before her death.

Khawam, who also represents the Guillen family, slammed the “toxic culture” in the military in the wake of the latest development in Fernandes’ case.

“I am saddened that another soldier who served the country has been destroyed by sexual assault and sexual harassment and this toxic culture in the military that exists,” Khawam said.

With Post wires

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