Fort Hood Soldier Elder Fernandez’s Death Ruled Suicide
Preliminary autopsy reports on the body of Elder Fernandez indicate that he committed suicide.
According to a report from the Killeen Daily Herald, Sgt Elder Fernandez's death has been ruled as a suicide by hanging following preliminary autopsy reports.
Sgt Elder Fernandez, 23, was reported missing on August 19 by his family after they told investigators that they hadn't seen him since the 17th. Police say that the last time Elder Fernandez was seen alive was that afternoon when he was dropped off at his home by his staff sergeant.
Later it was revealed that Fernandez had been the victim of sexual abuse at Fort Hood, and had been receiving guidance from the unit sexual assault response coordinator on his options for care. "The unit also facilitated his transfer from a unit who has recently deployed to a different unit within the brigade to ensure he received the proper care and ensure there were no opportunities for reprisals."
According to a report from KXXV, on August 25, a railroad worker stumbled upon a man's body and called police. Forensics confirmed that the body was that of Elder Fernandez. The attorney for the Fernandez family, Natalie Khawam, has stated that Fernandez was found with his phone, military identification, and backpack. Strangely there was no suicide note found.
Officials at Fort Hood believe there is no reason to suspect foul-play, but Khawam has demanded a congressional investigation of Fort Hood. Fernandez is the 4th person this year to disappear from Fort Hood, and then be found deceased.
Our partners at News 10 report that on Monday, a five-member civilian panel of independent reviewers began work at Ft. Hood. Chris Swecker, Jonathan Harmon, Carrie Ricci, Queta Rodriguez and Jack White have been tasked with conducting a two-week review of the base to determine whether Fort Hood's command climate and culture, along with that of the surrounding community, is in line with Army standards.
"The [Fort Hood Independent Review Committee] assessment will include a review of historical data and statistics; interviews with a wide range of Fort Hood personnel; an evaluation of policies, regulations and procedures regarding sexual assault prevention, sexual harassment, equal opportunity and responses to reports of missing Soldiers; an evaluation of leaders’ training, education, abilities and effectiveness; and the command climate at various units and its impact on the safety, welfare and readiness of their Soldiers," a Ft. Hood media release reads.
The review panel will submit an interim report later this month and a final report on October 30. They're arrival comes after months of calls for independent investigations of the base and how it has handled the string of disappearances that have gained national attention over the past several months.
News 10 has a detailed list of each review panel member's investigative background if you'd like to see what experience they bring to the table.
I truly believe that something nefarious is happening at Fort Hood, and I send my sincerest condolences to all of the families at Fort Hood who have experienced such a tragedy.
Do you believe that this was an open and shut suicide? Could Fernandez's death have been a cover-up for something more sinister? What similarities do you see with Sgt Elder Fernandez and Spc Vanessa Guillen?