The family of Sergeant Elder Fernandes was told that the Fort Hood soldier’s body had been found about 25 miles from Fort Hood, hanging from a tree late Tuesday night.
Elder Fernandes was the second soldier since April to go missing amid allegations of sexual abuse. The remains of two missing soldiers were discovered off base June 21 and July 1.
A missing persons report had been filed with the Killeen Police Department on August 19.
“We continue to believe Sgt. Fernandes left on his own accord and there is no connection between his disappearance and any other ongoing cases at Fort Hood,” military officials said in a statement.
Fernandez had reported in May that a staff sergeant had groped him in April in a supply closet. A spokesperson for the 1st Calvary Division confirmed there was an open investigation involving Sgt. Fernandes of “abusive sexual conduct.”
The family’s lawyer stated that the sexually abusive staff sergeant continued to harass and follow Fernandes, and he was being teased and bullied by fellow soldiers and superiors.
The boy’s mother was unaware that her son had reported a sexual assault, and had experienced trauma and become suicidal. He had been hospitalized since August 11, but did not disclose to his mother why. She also did not know that her 23-year-old son had been reassigned to a new unit within his brigade for his safety.
In a disturbing series of disappearances, Elder Fernandes was the 10th soldier to vanish from Fort Hood in a year. Five of the cases have been deemed unsolved homicides, according to the nonprofit Missing People in America.
This story was at the Boston Globe.