Missing soldier was part of an open investigation of “abuse sexual contact” but “foul play is not suspected”

Sgt. Elder Fernandes, 23, of Brockton, MA is stationed at Fort Hood. [Image credit: 1st Cavalry Division]

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"Finding Sgt. Elder Fernandes safe and resuming the care he was receiving before his recent absence remains the top priority of the 1st Cavalry Division," a press release issued by Fort Hood on the evening of August 23rd began. "Along with the Family, we want information that will lead to Sgt. Fernandes’ return to the people who care about him."

 

According to information gathered by those investigating on base, it is now believed that Fernandes left the base of his own accord despite the fact that his vehicle was recovered on base.

 

“We are concerned for his well-being and want him to continue the care he was receiving before he went missing. Our unit and the Army have the resources to help him,” a press release issued on August 22nd quotes Justin Redfern, commander of the 553rd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion as saying.

 

Fernandes was part of a single open investigation into "abuse sexual contact" and had even transferred to a different unit in order to avoid any possible reprisals for his report.  Fort Hood has stated that at this time, Fernandes is not tied to any other open investigation.

 

"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," Lt. Col. Chris Brautigam, Fort Hood public affairs officer is quoted by Army Times as saying in a statement.

 

Natalie Khawam, the attorney working on behalf of Vanessa Guillen's family took to Twitter to announce that she is now also representing Fernandes' family.

 

Fort Hood asks anyone who sees him to contact the Killeen Police Department at (254) 526-TIPS (8477), https://www.bellcountycrimestoppers.com , the Fort Hood CID Office at (254) 287-2722, the Fort Hood MP desk at (254) 287-4001 or your local police department. Persons can also anonymously submit information at https://www.bellcountycrimestoppers.com or https://www.cid.army.mil/report-a-crime.html. People wishing to remain anonymous will be honored to the degree allowable under the law and the information will be held in the strictest confidence allowable.

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