Thursday night, Killeen police asked the public for help in finding Sgt. Elder Fernandes, 23. He has not been heard from by his family since Monday, Aug. 17, police said, when family members told them he was last seen by his staff sergeant.
His car with his belongings was found on post. He had just signed a new lease but never picked up his keys, according to his aunt, Isabel Fernandes.
"This is very, very unusual. He has been in touch with us since last week. I personally spoke to him Friday morning. He spoke with his mom this past Sunday and he promised he would call on Monday," Fernandes told ABC13. "Monday came and went and he didn't call, and he didn't answer calls from anyone else. Tuesday, no calls and my sister ended up flying down there yesterday, and still we haven't heard from him."
Army officials said Fernandes is currently involved in an open investigation involving claims of abuse regarding sexual contact.
Fort Hood release a statement, saying:
"The chain of command takes all allegations of sexual harassment and assault seriously. The unit sexual assault response coordinator has been working closely with Sgt. Fernandes, ensuring he was aware of all his reporting, care, and victim advocacy options. The unit also facilitated his transfer from a unit who has recently deployed to a different unit within the brigade to ensure he received the proper care and ensure there were no opportunities for reprisals. We will provide updates as we are able once CID completes their investigation."
Fernandes is from Massachusetts. His mother traveled to Fort Hood to press Army officials, said his aunt. Tim Miller of EquuSearch said he's flying to Fort Hood on Saturday for a planned search.
"Our primary concern is to ensure his wellbeing and safety," the first cavalry division wrote in a tweet.
We are seeking your help in locating Sgt. Elder Fernandes.— 1st Cavalry Division (@1stCavalryDiv) August 20, 2020
Please contact the Fort Hood Military Police at 254-288-1170 or US Army CID at 254-287-2722, if you have any information on his whereabouts. pic.twitter.com/81I1SEx9hl
Fernandes' disappearance comes just weeks after the remains of Houston's Vanessa Guillen were found. Her disappearance and murder has garnered national attention and thrust the third largest Army base into the spotlight. The Army announced an independent command climate review.
SEE ALSO: Vanessa Guillen: Timeline offers look at tragedy and legacy of Ft. Hood soldier
"We are here all worried. He has a big family and we need to find him and we need to find him alive," said his aunt.
Fernandes is approximately 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighs approximately 133 pounds. He was last seen wearing black Army physical training shorts and a T-shirt with red athletic shoes.
Anyone with information on Fernandes's whereabouts is urged to contact the Fort Hood Military Police at 254-288-1170 or U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Department at 254-287-2722.