• Sun. Feb 28th, 2021

Authorities searching for another missing Fort Hood soldier – ABC News

Authorities in Texas are searching for another missing Fort Hood soldier amid a tumultuous period for the base that’s included multiple service members turning up dead.

Sgt. Elder Fernandes, a 23-year-old chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear specialist assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division, not been heard from by his family since Sunday, prompting them to report him missing two days later, according to a statement from the Killeen Police Department on Thursday and comments made by family members to ABC News Friday.

His mother, Ailina Fernandes, and aunt, Isabel Fernandes, told ABC News in a telephone interview that he had been hospitalized recently but discharged Monday. Both his mom and aunt said they spoke to him on the phone while he was at the hospital, but he didn’t reveal much as to why he was there.

Fernandes was last seen by his staff sergeant on Monday afternoon, when he was dropped off at a residence located in the 2700 block of Woodlands Drive in Killeen, police said. His aunt said she spoke to his friends, who told her that where the sergeant dropped him off was not where he lived.

His mother traveled from Massachusetts to Texas to search for her son on Wednesday. She said she went on base with police and found his car, with his belongings still inside. Fernandes also had a new apartment waiting to be moved into with utilities paid, but he never picked up the key, according to his mom.

Fort Hood is involved in the search.

“Our primary concern is for his health and well-being,” the statement from Fort Hood on Thursday read, in part. “We have completed a search of the entire division area, to include motorpools, parking lots, and headquarters buildings and the unit is in contact with the Soldiers Family, the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division and civilian law enforcement agencies to help find him as we continue our search.”

In an updated statement on Friday, Fort Hood said that based on information gathered from fellow soldiers he “may have left Fort Hood on his own accord.”

The statement also said Fernandes did not report to work Monday as scheduled, and that his only known vehicle was located at Fort Hood, in his unit’s parking lot.

Fernandes’ aunt told ABC News the Army hasn’t provided much helpful information.

“I guess the police is helping, but the Army’s not so much,” she said. “They can’t give answers. Everything is like pulling teeth to get any information from them.”

The missing man’s mother agreed.

“I can’t get access to any information, the Army is not giving any information to no one. So I’m trying to see for when the lawyer gets in contact with them and more higher people, they will be able to give us some information, because they know,” she said.

The Army has not responded to ABC News’ follow-up questions regarding the case.

The Fernandes family has retained an attorney, Natalie Khawam, who’s also the attorney for the family of Vanessa Guillen, who went missing from Fort Hood in late April and whose remains were discovered near the base months later.

Fernandes’ disappearance comes after a difficult month for Fort Hood.

Pvt. Mejhor Morta, a 26-year-old Fort Hood soldier, was found dead on July 17 in a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reservoir, government officials and local police said. Investigators said he likely drowned.

About two weeks before that, on July 1, human remains were discovered near Fort Hood and subsequently identified as Guillen, a 20-year-old soldier who had been missing since late April. A suspect in the case, 20-year-old Army specialist Aaron Robinson, died by suicide as officials closed in on him. Another suspect, Cecily Aguilar, 22, Robinson’s girlfriend, is accused of helping him dispose of Guillen’s body. She was charged with one count of conspiracy to tamper with evidence and pleaded not guilty.

On June 19, skeletal remains found near Fort Hood, following an anonymous tip, were later identified as Pvt. Gregory Wedel-Morales, who had been last seen Aug. 19, 2019. Investigators suspect foul play, according to KTRK.

Fernandes was wearing black Army shorts, a T-shirt and red athletic shoes at the time he was last seen. Anyone with information on Fernandes is urged to contact the Fort Hood Military Police at (254) 288-1170, U.S. Army CID at (254) 287-2722, or the Killeen Police Department at (254) 200-7905.

ABC News’ Luis Martinez contributed to this report.