By Buddy Blouin
The Killeen-Temple area is not the most attention-grabbing urban area in the state of Texas. But the area has a wonderful community filled with many different industries, including thriving hospitality and medical fields that draw people in due to the low cost of living. This Central Texas community is also most known for its proximity to Fort Hood, a U.S. Army post known for training and deploying heavy armored divisions. It may have earned the nickname “The Great Place” because of the quality of life it affords its Soldiers and their families, but not everyone receives the same treatment. There has been a string of Fort Hood murders that have plagued the base for years. Some point to an overall toxic culture at the institution, as well as throughout the Army itself, while others point to a range of conspiracies. Either way, tragically, there are still more questions than answers surrounding the circumstances of the deaths and disappearances of those who were serving during their untimely demise.

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How Many Murders at Fort Hood Have There Been?

That’s a great question. When you look inside the rash of unexplained deaths at Fort Hood, you start to see that there are a lot of questions to be asked about untimely deaths in 2020 alone. Even taking the 11 suicides out, you’re still left with at least five murders and several unsolved cases, with many looking for a Fort Hood murderer. Over the last several decades, Fort Hood has been known for its development of Soldiers and its role in military campaigns throughout the Middle East. Yet, a variety of non-combat deaths, almost 160 since 2016 alone, have taken away from the post’s image. Most notably, the outrage felt throughout various communities surrounding the gruesome murder of Vanessa Guillén.

Culture Concerns and Mysterious Murders at Fort Hood

Any time people go missing or are killed under inconsistent circumstances, there are going to be a number of theories that pop up. People want answers, and when they aren’t provided, it’s natural to seek them out through other means. There are also opportunists looking to spread disinformation for a laugh or out of boredom. But while there are still many questions to be answered, a pattern of violence seems to follow Fort Hood. Staff Sergeant Devin Schuette was found dead in his truck and ruled a suicide, despite many disturbing facts surrounding his death. His truck had been fitted with a hose connected to the exhaust pipe, bringing fumes to the cabin. However, Schuette’s blood was found on various parts of the murder scene, and Schuette was also found with nine stab wounds on his body. Private Dakota Lee Stump was found dead a few miles from the barracks and was said to have crashed his vehicle while under the influence going over 80 miles per hour. Despite this report, nobody heard the crash, and Stump’s body was found mostly intact, only missing his hyoid bone. Toxicology reports would later come out as inconclusive. The unfortunate truth is that this is just the tip of the iceberg, with many other suicides and murders at Fort Hood in the hearts and minds of families from all over. It feels as if leadership failed not only the victims but also communities at large. Because of this, the culture of the base has come under heavy scrutiny that is forcing a change in leadership, hopefully for a brighter future.

Vanessa Guillén and Calls for Change

Many people wanted change and warned of a toxic culture at Fort Hood, but the death of Vanessa Guillén would inspire change that is still ongoing. Of course, everyone is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. With that said, it’s widely suspected that Aaron David Robinson killed Guillén and received help from Cecily Aguilar through the tampering of evidence. Guillén’s death would lead to institutional changes, including fourteen U.S. Army leaders getting fired or suspended at Fort Hood and a review of policies and procedures. Various sexual harassment claims had been made over the years, including twice by Guillén before her death. The family of Guillén also believes, based on another account of hearing two gunshots, that Robinson did not, in fact, commit suicide but was killed by the Army as part of a coverup that would showcase the patterns seen by ignoring sexual harassment complaints. The President's executive order that sexual harassment will be a specific offense under the UCMJ is a step in the right direction, but many questions remain. Change is good because leadership should be held accountable, but the Fort Hood murders can never be undone, and there are still many questions surrounding a variety of cases. The hope is that the present and future of the military base are better than the ominous circumstances that have marred its reputation over the last several years.

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