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Episode 57

The Murder of Vanessa Guillen and the Unsolved Homicides of Fort Hood

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In this episode, Billy and Paul will delve into the eight cases of unsolved homicides and unknown causes of death of soldiers from the base. And with the help of Murder Squad listeners, they take a closer look at how the US Army investigates sexual assault, sexual harassment and missing persons amidst their ranks—including the cases of Vanessa Guillen and LaVena Johnson. 
Vanessa Guillen:
Last week we discussed the missing case of 20-year-old Private First Class Vanessa Guillen from Fort Hood, who has now been promoted to specialist. Since last week's episode her remains have been recovered. 

On Tuesday, June 30th remains were located near the Leon River in Texas about 20 miles east of Fort Hood. According to reports the remains had been encased in cement. On Wednesday, a suspect was located. After leaving the base, the Aaron Robinson killed himself. Law enforcement also located another suspect--Cecily Aguilar, the estranged wife of another soldier from Fort Hood.  

According to attorney Natalie Khawam, Robinson killed Vanessa on base. He bludgeoned her with a hammer in the armory. He then came back several hours later and removed her body in a Pelican case. He and Aguilar burned, dismembered and put the remains in cement. They then buried the remains in three separate holes. 

Vanessa's family are calling for a change in the way the military handles sexual harassment and assault. Based on the descriptions Vanessa provided of her harasser, it may not have been Robinson. She described him as a sergeant and a supervisor. Robinson was neither. 

But the failure in the system still seems to be in place. Vanessa was afraid to report her sexual harassment. Her family is pushing for Congress to create a third-party entity to investigate military reports of sexual harassment and sexual assault. 

Other Unsolved Homicides at Fort Hood:
March 1st: 20-year-old Specialist Shelby Tyler Jones was located outside a convenience store on Fort Hood Road with a gunshot wound. He was pronounced dead at the scene at 3:45 AM. But it’s not where base officials believe he was shot. It is believed the shooting happened 40 minutes earlier at Club Dreams, a half-a-mile away. Officials believe his body was dumped at the store afterwards. The case is still active and has been ruled a homicide. 

March 5th: 29-year-old Christopher Wayne Smith was discovered unresponsive in his on-post residence. Currently foul play isn’t suspected but the last update on the case stated that nothing’s been ruled out. 

March 14th: The Killeen Police Department was dispatched to the Summerlyn Apartments for gunshots. Inside a residence they discovered three bodies--murdered. Two of the victims were Army: 23-year-old Specialist Freddy Beningo Delacruz Jr. and 23-year-old Army veteran Shaquan Markell Allred. The third victim was 22-year-old Asia Cline.

May 18th: 27-year-old Private First Class Brandon Scott Rosecrans was found shot, 13 miles off post. Harker Heights police identified Rosecrans as the victim and owner of the vehicle that was found on fire near his body. The vehicle was an orange 2016 Jeep Renegade. 

LaVena Johnson:
19-year-old LaVena Johnson was one of five children who loved to play violin. LaVena joined the Army to follow in her father’s footsteps and to pay her way through college. On July 19, 2005, in Iraq, LaVena died. She had worked until 4 or 5 PM. Then missed a training appointment and hung out with another soldier for several hours. At 1:20 AM LaVena’s body was located. 

Investigators released their findings on LaVena’s death. According to the report, LaVena shot herself in the mouth with an M-16 rifle. The act was inside a contractor’s tent on the military base. There was no suicide note, but witness testimony said she was depressed from a recent breakup. 

Dr. John Johnson, LaVena's father, created his own investigative team, some with experience in criminal science. Through the Freedom of Information Act he obtained the full report on the case including the autopsy photos. Johnson disagreed with almost the entire report. For starters, his 5’1” daughter’s arms weren’t long enough to shoot herself with a rifle in the mouth. And no bullet was ever recovered. But the biggest reason was the trauma to his daughter’s body.

From his own investigation he believes his daughter was raped and then murdered. The family is still urging officials to reopen LaVena's case. 

ASSIGNMENT:
We encourage you to call your representatives and demand change in how the military handles sexual assault and sexual harassment. There is a petition you can sign in Vanessa's case asking to hold the Army responsible. There is also a petition to reopen LaVena Johnson’s case.  

Also, there are still the unsolved homicides of Shelby Tyler Jones, Freddy Beningo Delacruz Jr., Shaquan Markell Allred, Brandon Scott Rosecrans and Gregory Wedel-Morales. If you have any information, please contact us.   

CODE OF CONDUCT: 

1. Do not name names publicly. Send everything to the police or to this page and we will forward to the police. 
2. Do not post side by side photos.
3. Do not contact any family members. 
4. Do not doxx each other and be civil. We all want the same thing. 

As tips come in, Jensen and Holes will work to verify them. If they look good, we will publish them here to try and get us closer to their names.

Safe Helpline:
The Rape Abuse and Incest National Network provides the DoD Safe Helpline. The helpline is designed to provide live, one-on-one support to sexual assault survivors, their loved ones, and anyone within the Department of Defense community looking for more information. All Safe Helpline services are confidential, anonymous, secure, and available worldwide, providing survivors with the help they need, anytime, anywhere. The staff is trained to answer questions specifically about military reporting. 

The helpline is available via phone at 877-995-5247, online at SafeHelpline.org, text at 55-247 and through an app. 


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