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Army asking for help finding another missing Fort Hood soldier

Army asking for help finding another missing Fort Hood soldier
Posted at 1:15 PM, Aug 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-21 20:13:51-04

KILLEEN, Texas -- The U.S. Army and law enforcement in Texas are asking for the public's help in locating another missing Fort Hood soldier.

Family members say they have not heard from Sgt. Elder Fernandes, 23, since Monday, August 17.

"I don't know where he is at right now. I don't know what he's feeling, I don't know if he's hurt. I don't know what's going on. I just know he's a good kid. He would never disappear and not tell his family where he is at," said Ailina Fernandes, the soldier's mother.

The soldier was reported missing on Wednesday, August 19. He was last seen by his staff sergeant Monday afternoon when he dropped him off at his residence located in the 2700 block of Woodlands Drive in Killeen.

Fort Hood released a statement late Friday.

"We can confirm that there is an open investigation of abusive sexual contact involving Sgt. Fernandes," the statement read. "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."

The soldier is African American, 5 feet, 5 inches tall and 133 pounds. He has black hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing black Army physical training shirt and shorts with black, orange, and yellow athletic shoes.

Information gathered from fellow soldiers so far indicate Fernandes may have left Fort Hood on his own accord, Army officials said.

Sgt. Fernandes is a chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear specialist assigned to the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 553rd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion (CSSB), 1st Cavalry Division Sustainment Brigade (1CDSB).

Fort Hood officials say a search of the entire division area, including motorpools, parking lots and headquarters buildings was conducted. Fort Hood says the unit is in contact with the Fernandes family, the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division and civilian law enforcement agencies.

The soldier is from Brockton, Massachusetts. According to State Representative Liz Miranda, Sgt. Fernandes' car was found with all of his belongings. He recently signed a new lease and never picked up the keys to his apartment.

Detectives with the Killeen Police Department's Criminal Investigation Division are asking anyone who has seen Fernandez or know of his whereabouts to contact Killeen PD at (254) 200-7905.

“We are very concerned about the welfare of this Soldier and first and foremost we want to ensure he is okay,” said Christopher Grey, spokesman for CID. “If someone out there has any information, regardless of how trivial you may think it is, we are asking you to contact us immediately.”

People can contact the Fort Hood CID Office at 254-287-2722, the Fort Hood MP desk at 254-287-4001 or contact their local police department. You can also anonymously submit information here. People wishing to remain anonymous will be honored to the degree allowable under the law and the information will be held in the strictest confidence allowable.

KPD says the incident is being investigated and information will be released as it becomes available.

This story was originally published by Sydney Isenberg at KXXV.