UPDATE 8/26/20 – It is hard to believe that Elder Fernandes took his own life. The authorities are stating that Elder’s body was found by a person walking near a railroad track in Sammons Park inTemple, Texas. The soldier’s body was found hanging from a tree. His black backpack with his driver’s license nearby.
The family’s attorney, Natalie Khawam, the same attorney for Vanessa Guillian, has called for a Congressional Investigation. I concur and I hope that it is done.
It is hard for me to understand how Elder got from the location of his old home to Temple. His car was in Killeen, he could have gotten in his car and drove to Temple, if he had it in his mind to do so. But, instead he got there another way. So, who took him there? Uber or a friend, because I doubted he walked for 10 hours to get there as there are so many more closer trees to hang yourself from. Was he wandering in that direction for days? Then how come no one saw him?
The Ft Hood officials still are adamant that Elder left on his own and went missing. Subsequently, they believe that he also hanged himself, which would confirm their first belief. But, I feel they are doing a terrible disservice to the family, and concerned citizens and personnel at Fort Hood, if they do not find out how he got to Temple, and answers to other questions.
For example, if the Fort Hood officials knew he was depressed, if he was hospitalized for that, then why did they release him? He can’t just check himself out, it doesn’t work that way, this is the military and they don’t let you just check yourself out when you are in the service, you have to be evaluated.
The Boston Globe mentions a staff sergeant was sexually abusing Elder, that he groped him in April in a supply closet. The 1st Calvary Division said an “open investigation” (what ever open means) was done, but it didn’t stop as the staff sergeant followed and harassed Elder along with other superiors that bullied him. There were also accounts that other soldiers “picked” on him, per the Boston Globe.
I know that people that are depressed, and there is no official word that Elder was, will become isolated and cannot see any future. The internal tornado does not allow them to reach out for help nor realize that eventually things will get better.
In Elder’s case it is easy to just state that it was suicide, when you have already declared no foul play.
The military needs to understand completely what happened to Elder. How did he get to Killeen, why are there superiors in place in the military that feel they are untouchable and can torment a fellow soldier, why didn’t the physician’s realize he needed to remain in their care? Until all these questions and many more are answered, Elder’s case is not closed. We cannot allow his death to be in vain.
DOD report shows that in 2018, 541 service members across the military’s active and reserve components died by suicide.
Original store: Elder Fernandes, 23, is missing from Ft. Hood in Texas. Fernandes was born in the Republic of Cabo Verde, an island country in west of Africa. He lived in Massachusetts until he joined the Army in September of 2016 and was last seen on August 17, 2020, at a residence in Killeen, Texas. Elder is a Chemical, Biological Radiological and Nuclear specialist and is assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division Sustainment Brigade at Fort Hood. He has not been heard from since Monday, August 17, 2020.
There has been a lot of attention brought to Fort Hood after many soldiers went missing from the base. Fort Hood officials told CNN in a statement. that the number of deaths include seven off-duty accidents; seven suicides; one combat-related death; four homicides, one of which was on the base (this would be likely Vanessa Guillen they are talking about); two of natural causes; one that was undetermined pending an autopsy; and one drowning.
His Staff Sergeant said he was dropped off at his former home in the 2700 block of Woodlands Drive in Killeen and that was when he was last seen, according to several media reports. His key was found in his car along with all of his belongings on the post, according to his cousin. What is odd is that Fernandes signed a new lease but he never picked up the keys to the new apartment. The rent and utilities had already been paid at the apartment.
“He was dropped off at his place before moving to his new apartment that he packed but never got the keys. He was dropped off but his roommate didn’t see him at all that night,” said Elder’s cousin.
Also, Information from his mother, Ailina Fernandes and his brother Elton Fernandes that Eldon told them he had reported being sexually harassed, reports ABC News.
The 1st Cavalry Division also stated there was an open investigation into the alleged abusive sexual contact. In response, Elder was moved to a new unit and he was shielded from retribution.
According to spokesperson Lt. Col Chris Brautigam, “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. The unit also facilitated his transfer from a unit ho has recently deployed to a different unit within the brigade to ensure he received the proper care and ensure there was no opportunities for reprisals.” Brautigam also stated that Elder as also hospitalized from August 11 to August 17. Brautigam said they reached out to the family on August 11, when Elder was admitted to the hospital.
“As far we know he didn’t have any ‘medical condition’ and if he did they should’ve call and tell his mother,” said his cousin. “She would be right there and none of this would happened. Even now is unclear why he was in a hospital.”
His mother and aunt told ABC News that they talked to him on the phone while he was there, but he would not say why he was there. He was suppose to call on the day he went missing to explain more but he never did.
“We know about the hospital stay but what they said it was unclear why he was in the hospital,” said Elder’s cousin. “Obviously when add everything up what you saying makes sense, but what we want is for the higher ups to be clear what happened.”
As of Tuesday, Elder was AWOL after not showing up for work and as of Friday the Army Criminal Investigation Command said hello soldiers believe Elder “may have left Fort Hood on his own accord.”
“Nobody is giving clear answer of course they want cover up whatever went down, said Elder’s cousin. “And if there’s report of sexual assault just release the name and investigate the person who was reported but of course they won’t do that.”
In June, Vanessa Guillen went missing and her family also stated that Vanessa had reported sexually harassment, but never reported it because of fear of retaliation. Guillen’s remains were found in July. Read the full story here.
On June 19, skeletal remains were found near Fort Hood which were identified as missing Pft. Gregory Wedel-Morales who had been missing from Fort Hood since 2019. Read more here.
Fernandes is about 5 feet, 4 inches and around 133 pounds, police said. He was wearing black Army PT shorts and a T-shirt with red athletic shoes when he was last seen.
Those with information on Fernandez are asked to call the Fort Hood Military Police at 254-288-1170 or the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division at 254-287-2722. Killeen police can be contacted by calling 254-200-7905.
Marie Theresa Cherry, 25, who went missing on Oct. 9, 1992 is still missing.