WASHINGTON, D.C. — In late April, Pfc. Vanessa Guillen disappeared suddenly from her base at Fort Hood in Texas. Since then, her family has been searching for the 20-year-old Latina woman and asking the army for answers.
On Monday the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID) raised the reward from $15,000 to $25,000 for information leading to finding Guillen. Rapper Baby Bash, who shares Guillen’s hometown of Houston, offered to add $5,000 personally to the reward, according to KVUE.
The case has been widely reported about in local media in Texas, and was brought to national attention in part by Salma Hayek, who posted a picture of herself on Instagram over the weekend holding a cardboard sign with a picture of Guillen.
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The Army hasn’t yet shared any leads about Guillen’s disappearance. According to a press release from CID, Guillen went missing in the middle of a work day and while she was on the base.
Guillen was last seen on April 22 between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., “in the parking lot of her Regimental Engineer Squadron Headquarters, 3rd Cavalry Regiment on Fort Hood, Texas and has not been heard from since that date.”
“Her car keys, barracks room key, identification card and wallet were later found in the armory room where she was working earlier in the day,” the press release says.
But according to Guillen’s family, she told her mother that she was being sexually harassed by one of her superiors. Although the incident was never officially reported to the Army, Guillen’s family believes it could be related to her disappearance.
Since she went missing, Guillen’s family has been organizing to find her. Her sister created a GoFundMe page to raise funds in order to hire a private investigator, as well as an Instagram account called “Find Vanessa Guillen.”
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Please Share : Missing Soldier Vanessa Guillen Today is fifty-six days without Vanessa, without answers, without justice ! Please share, tweet, tag, post, and if you can donate! Join the cause ! Support the cause ! Share the cause ! No more soldiers, speak up anonymously or personally, do not be afraid, you are not alone United for Vanessa ! findvanessaguillen.com #FindVanessaGuillen #ShutDownFortHoodBase
A whitehouse.gov petition started by Guillen’s sister has amassed more than the 100,000 signatures required to get a response from the White House within 60 days.
Last week, protesters showed up at Fort Hood with signs demanding justice and that more be done to find Guillen.
Her family is asking for a federal investigation into her disappearance. They cite the Army’s handling of Gregory Wedel-Morales’s disappearance as one of their reasons for not trusting CID investigators.
In August of 2019, Wedel-Morales went missing from Fort Hood. It was only days before he was set to exit the Army, and Army investigators labeled him as AWOL. Nothing has been heard from Wedel-Morales since.
Latino Rebels asked the Army Criminal Investigation Command for comment in response to Guillen’s family’s request for a federal investigation, but had not yet received a response at the time of publishing.
UPDATE, June 17: 3:15pm
On Tuesday afternoon, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) president Domingo Garcia announced in a virtual press conference that his organization would be adding $25,000 to the reward for information leading to finding Guillen. That brings the total amount for the reward to at least $50,000.
Ana Lucía Murillo is a journalist based in Washington, D.C. and the 2020 summer correspondent for Latino Rebels. She tweets from @analuciamur.