In a Thursday special, NBC News’ “Dateline” spotlighted the story of Spc. Vanessa Guillen, a Fort Hood soldier whose disappearance and death earlier this year sparked worldwide headlines and months of protests outside Fort Hood’s gates.
Reported by Andrea Canning, the feature included interviews with Guillen’s sisters Lupe and Mayra Guillen, mother Gloria Guillen, Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy, Maj. Gen. Donna Martin, commander of U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, Guillen family attorney Natalie Khawam and more.
The special also featured Jasmine Caldwell of KCEN TV, who reported on the case.
During the interviews, Lupe Guillen brought allegations against Fort Hood that the post was a major hub of sexual abuse and murder. More than anything, the story emphasized the #Iamveanessaguillen tag to embrace a culture of sexual harassment in the military.
The Army was slow to find the clues after Guillen was reported missing in April.
“Because we knew her car was in the parking lot we absolutely searched her car,” said Martin. But “there were no signs of blood in the arms room.”
It was an arms room, where weapons are stored, where Guillen was reportedly killed with a hammer by another soldier in her unit, Spc. Aaron Robinson.
Based on her background, Army investigators believed there was no probability Guillen would have walked away on her own, said Martin,
Martin said CID originally did not have evidence that Robinson had any reason to kill Guillen. He stated that he left the arms room, locked up and went home for the day.
He was supposedly with Killeen resident Cecily Aguilar, who is currently in court under allegations she assisted in the disposal of Guillen’s body near the Leon River in Bell County.
The show describes how Aguilar admitted to helping Robinson dispose of Guillen’s body.
“This is a wakeup call for the entire Army,” said McCarthy. “I’m heartbroken, I’m sorry, and I’m disappointed. Just know I’m going to make the changes to make sure nothing like this happens again.”
McCarthy was asked about the Army’s investigation into Guillen’s death and the possible lack of interest in the investigation.
“There are a lot of things we can and can’t say due to the nature of the investigation,” he said. “It creates frustration with the family.”
“Dateline” stated that Fort Hood “epitomized” sexual harassment and assault in the military in its closing statements.