Missing Fort Hood Soldier’s Body Found, Family Demands Answers
A missing Fort Hood soldier’s body was found dead in an apparent hanging near Lake Polk in Temple, Texas on Tuesday. Sgt Elder Fernandes had reported a sexual assault by a commander in May. When he switched units, word spread and he was hazed, belittled, and “humiliated.” The family is demanding an investigation into whether or not he was sexually assaulted as he claimed.
“According to his friends, since that happened, they kept harassing him. The person he accused was following. They were hazing him, torturing him, making his life impossible.” Fernandes’ Aunt Isabel
A civilian investigation into the “culture” of Fort Hood is ongoing after the recent rash of missing persons and case of Vanessa Guillen.
According to the Daily Mail:
Temple Police are investigating his death and said foul play is not suspected.
Attorney Natalie Khawam says Fernandes reported in May that he was inappropriately touched by a male superior and was transferred to another unit, but word of his report spread and he was harassed, belittled, bullied and hazed.
‘They don’t know what happened – whether it was suicide or whether murder. But I’m gonna tell you, what they did to him, the blood on their hands, it’s a form of murder,’ Khawam said.
He was humiliated, he was embarrassed, he couldn’t even tell his mom. He didn’t want to tell anyone. He was afraid. He was ashamed by this,’ Khawam said Wednesday.
Fernandes was hospitalized for a week prior to his disappearance because he felt suicidal, according to Isabel Fernandes. The Fort Hood soldier’s body points toward a suicide, though officials have not formally said so.
According to the Daily Mail, army authorities stated that they could not find a witness to corroborate Sgt Fernandes’ claims, and they notified him of that fact. The Army Times wrote that the investigation was ongoing.
“Fort Hood public affairs officer Lt. Col. Chris Brautigam said in a statement earlier this week that there is an “open investigation of abusive sexual contact” involving Fernandes…
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,” Brautigam said in the statement. Fernandes had been transferred to another unit “to ensure he received the proper care and ensure there were no opportunities for reprisals.”
According to reports, Fernandes’ personality began to change even before he reported the sexual incident, although there was no mention of what that entailed. The Army and his command staff did not elaborate what those “changes” were. The family also noted a change in his behavior.
Sgt Fernandes was reportedly happy in the Army and had re-upped his enlistment to 2024. He enlisted in 2018 and was considered an excellent service member.
Featured photo: US Army