Missing Fort Hood soldier's body found, family says

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Wednesday, August 26, 2020
Missing Fort Hood soldier's body found, family says
Police in Temple, Texas, said they believe they have found the body of a missing Fort Hood soldier. This is what he reported right before he went missing.

TEMPLE, Texas (KTRK) -- The body of a soldier missing from Fort Hood was found hanging from a tree Tuesday about 25 miles from the Army post, the Boston Globe reports.

Sgt. Elder Fernandes, 23, was last seen Aug. 17 when his staff sergeant dropped him off at his house.

Police in Temple, Texas, confirmed that a body was found near railroad tracks around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday and appeared to have been there for some time. Authorities said they did not suspect foul play, though an autopsy was ordered. Formal identification of the body will be determined by the autopsy, but identification found nearby indicated the body belonged to Fernandes.

Missing Fort Hood soldier reported abusive sexual contact before disappearance

"Our worst nightmare has happened. One of our own, Sergeant Elder Fernandes has been found dead today," family attorney Natalie Khawam told the Boston Globe. "We are sickened by this tragedy that has happened one too many times. We are heartbroken for Elder Fernandes's family."

Fernandes was from Brockton, Massachusetts, which is outside of Boston.

Prior to disappearing, Fernandes claimed he was the victim of abuse.

"We can confirm that there is an open investigation of abusive sexual contact involving Sgt. Fernandes," Fort Hood LTC Chris Brautigam said in a statement last week. "The chain of command takes all allegations of sexual harassment and assault seriously."

Texas EquuSearch joins search for missing Fort Hood soldier

Fernandes' disappearance came nearly two months after the remains of Houston's Vanessa Guillen were found. Her disappearance and murder garnered national attention and thrust the third largest Army base into the spotlight. The Army announced an independent command climate review.

Before Tuesday's discovery, police spent last week looking for Sgt. Elder Fernandes. ABC13's Jessica Willey reported on Aug. 20 on the emotional and desperate effort.