The physique of Sgt. Elder Fernandes, a Massachusetts native who went lacking from the U.S. Army’s Fort Hood base in Texas greater than every week in the past, was found Tuesday evening, police mentioned.
“Our worst nightmare has happened,” the household’s lawyer, Natalie Khawam, mentioned in a press release. “One of our own, Sergeant Elder Fernandes has been found dead today. We are sickened by this tragedy that has happened one too many times. We are heartbroken for Elder Fernandes’s family.”
Khawam mentioned Army police instructed relations in regards to the discovery late Tuesday night time.
Fernandes’ backpack was with him, Khawam mentioned, and police found the 23-year-old man’s driver’s license inside.
The Temple Police Department mentioned it responded to a medical name alongside railroad tracks about 28 miles from the Fort Hood base, at about 5:36 p.m. Tuesday after an individual reported seeing a person close to the tracks.
“Upon officers’ arrival, it was determined that the subject had been deceased for some period of time,” the division mentioned in its assertion.
Identification found on the scene signifies the deceased sufferer is Fernandes, however police say no forensic affirmation has been made but.
Police say there doesn’t seem like any foul play concerned in Fernandes’ dying presently.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Fernandes family during this challenging time,” Temple Police Chief Shawn Reynolds mentioned.
Fernandes, 23, a 2015 graduate of Brockton High School and a chemical, organic, radiological and nuclear specialist assigned to the first Cavalry Division Sustainment Brigade, was final seen by members of his unit on Aug. 17 at a residence in Killeen, Texas.
When Fernandes didn’t report back to work the following day, the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command opened an investigation and commenced a search. Fernandes’ mom, brother and aunt flew to Texas to help in the search.
The Army mentioned “information gathered from fellow soldiers so far” led officers to consider Fernandes “may have left Fort Hood on his own accord.”
But relations have disputed that.
“We NEVER said or believe that Fernandes left on his own without saying anything to the family,” Isabel Fernandes wrote in a Sunday night time Facebook publish.
Khawam is asking for a Congressional investigation of Fort Hood in the wake of a number of disappearances of troopers, together with at the least two that concerned foul play.
“We will not stop until we find out what happened to Elder,” Khawam mentioned in her assertion. “We demand a Congressional Investigation of Ft. Hood. We must protect our soldiers! We demand Justice for Elder!”
The requires an investigation come as Fernandes is the third Fort Hood soldier to go lacking throughout the final 12 months.
Spc. Vanessa Guillen, 20, went lacking from Fort Hood in April. Her physique was found in July. A fellow soldier, Aaron David Robinson, suspected in Guillen’s disappearance, killed himself, Army officers have mentioned.
Vanessa Guillen:A timeline of the search
Pfc. Gregory Morales, 24, was reported lacking from the bottom Aug. 20, 2019. His stays had been found June 21 in a subject in Killeen, close to Fort Hood. Foul play is suspected in his dying, which stays below investigation.
Khawam instructed The Enterprise Tuesday that the Fernandes household was talking with the workplace of U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.
“We’d like to have her get involved and demand a congressional investigation of Fort Hood and how they have handled missing persons and deaths on the bases, especially when it comes to keeping military families in the dark,” Khawam mentioned. “They have continuously evaded questions. We don’t want the Army investigating itself.”
Officials had mentioned there was an “open investigation of abusive sexual contact” involving Elder Fernandes, and that he had been transferred to a different unit after reporting sexual abuse.
“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,” mentioned Fort Hood public affairs officer Lt. Col. Chris Brautigam.
Brautigam mentioned Fernandes had been transferred “to ensure he received the proper care and ensure there were no opportunities for reprisals.”
Follow Marc Larocque on Twitter: @cshepard_ENT.