By Buddy Blouin
The shocking murder of Vanessa Guillén is one of many mysterious and unfortunate murders/suicides attached to Fort Hood. Just north of Killeen, Texas, Fort Hood serves as an Army base with a focus on getting Soldiers prepared for the use of heavy armored forces on the battlefield. Yet, a variety of mysterious deaths and the high-profile murder of Guillén still paint an ugly picture of an otherwise unassuming Central Texas community. The aftermath of Guillén’s murder is still unfolding, and everyone is presumed innocent until being found guilty in a court of law; however, the horrible tragedy that fueled outrage and pain is also inspiring change on a number of levels.

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What Happened to Vanessa Guillén?

So far, what we know is based on the ongoing court case and the words of alleged accomplice Cecily Aguilar. The possible motive in Vanessa Guillén’s murder, revealed in new court records, is believed to be because Guillén supposedly saw fellow Soldier Aaron David Robinson’s phone background containing a photo of Aguilar. This created a problem because it would expose adultery and could cause Robinson to receive disciplinary action from the Army. His solution was to hit Guillén in the head with a hammer. According to Aguilar, Vanessa Guillén’s killer was Robinson, and he had moments where he would not act like himself, implying violent tendencies. She would go on to say that Robinson showed her Guillén’s body at the Leon River and threatened her at gunpoint to help him dispose of the evidence. Again, the Vanessa Guillén case is still ongoing, and it would be irresponsible to speculate further. The one fact that remains is that a life was senselessly lost, a trend that is connected with Fort Hood all too often. According to officials, Robinson would go on to kill himself after escaping custody when the authorities were closing in on him as a suspect.

Who Was Vanessa Guillén's Drill Sergeant?

Ryan "Cj" Landy was Guillén’s drill sergeant and claimed to have become friends with her instantly. He was not one of the fourteen U.S. Army leaders fired or suspended at Fort Hood as a result of an investigation that would show patterns of poor leadership. Some of the issues at hand, along with the ongoing disappearances, suicides, and murders, included multiple sexual harassment claims from Guillén and other Soldiers on which a blind eye was turned. Both Landy and Vanessa Guillén’s fiancé Juan Cruz have been outspoken about the case and the need for justice.

Reform and Refocus at Fort Hood

Vanessa Guillén’s military career and life were cut far too short, but her case is leading to change for those still serving. Many leaders at Fort Hood were relieved of their duties after an independent review of the base. The I Am Vanessa Guillén Act was recently passed, and President Joseph Biden signed an executive order making sexual harassment an offense under the UCMJ. Her legacy will hopefully help avoid the same mistakes in the institutions that ultimately failed her and many others over the years. Service members, families, and community members were all served an injustice due to the failure to protect her and the many others in the service.

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Image: Courtesy of Alex Roman Jr.



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