A Texas congresswoman who has been working with the family of Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillen said that "foul play" is suspected in her disappearance. Rep. Sylvia Garcia, a Democrat who represents Houston, gave the update in a news conference Tuesday after meeting Army officials at the base.
"They're using the words now, 'foul play,' and they're looking at potential criminal activity having occurred," Garcia said. "The question is who, what and when. And we've been reassured that they're going to do everything they can, they will leave no stone unturned until they find Vanessa."
Garcia said investigators did not reveal what led Army officials to the conclusion and only said that her last contact was at 11:30 a.m. on April 22. The 20-year-old has been missing since that day. Her car and room keys, identification card and wallet were found in an armory room where she was working earlier in the day.
The congresswoman said she spoke to Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Texas Senator Ted Cruz about the case, which is now being treated as a criminal investigation.
"Everyone is in agreement," she said. "We will give this base the assets and resources they need to find Vanessa."
Last week, officials said they were launching a probe into allegations Guillen was sexually harassed before her disappearance. The family's attorney, Natalie Khawam, said Tuesday during the visit with Army ofiicials, they brought up Guillen's allegation that a sergeant went to her shower while she was naked.
"There's a lot of gaps in their stories or their interviews or their information that they provided us," Khawam said.
"What's more disturbing is that they refused to tell us who she was working with, the supervisor she was working with that day," she added.
Army officials invited Guillen's mother, Gloria, to accompany their search in Leon River earlier in the week, but she said she didn't feel well. She blasted the Army's handling of her daughter's disappearance.
"They took too long to look for my daughter because I begged from the start for them to close the base and put their over 30,000 soldiers to look for my daughter and they didn't do it," she said in Spanish. "Why put on a show now to say you've looked for a my daughter? Why now? I demand justice and I demand their respect and for my daughter as a a soldier."
Guillen said her daughter had wanted to enlist in the Army since she was 10 years old. Now, she's demanding the Army to not hide anything.
"I want my daughter to be alive," she said. "Because if God forbid my daughter turns up dead, close this base!"
Guillen's case has sparked many people online to help in her search. In addition to Rep. Garcia, actress Salma Hayek has also been posting about the case on her social pages.
A $50,000 reward is being offered for information that leads to Guillen. The U.S. Army Criminal Command and the League of United Latin American Citizens are both contributing $25,000.
First published on June 24, 2020 / 2:20 PM
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