A 21-year-old female combat engineer was found dead this week at Fort Hood, leading to an investigation less than three years after the gruesome murder of Vanessa Guillen at the same troubled Texas Army base.
Pvt. Ana Basalduaruiz was pronounced dead Monday, just 15 months after arriving at Fort Hood to serve with the 1st Cavalry Division.
The Army Criminal Investigation Division is now looking into the circumstances of the soldier’s death, which have not been disclosed as of Thursday.
The Army said in a press release that the chain of command is in contact with Basalduaruiz’s family .
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of PV2 Ana Basalduaruiz, and we extend our sympathies to her father, mother, and her sister,” said Lt. Col. Patrick Sullivan, commander, 91st Engineer Battalion. “Our thoughts and prayers are with them during this difficult time. She was an exceptional teammate that will truly be missed.”
Balsaduaruiz’s hitherto unexplained death comes less than three years after the killing of 20-year-old Spc. Vanessa Guillen at Fort Hood, which has been the site of dozens of disturbing incidents over the last few years.
Mayra Guillen, Vanessa’s sister, tweeted Thursday that she was aware of Balsaduaruiz’s death and was planning to reach out to her family.
“I find it very sensitive to speak on something I’m not fully aware off yet and this is also very triggering for me,” Mayra wrote. “I need to gather my thoughts and then I’ll be able to share them.”
Vanessa Guillen, who had previously complained of sexual harassment at the base, was bludgeoned to death with a hammer at the Fort Hood armory in April 2020. Her dismembered body was discovered in a shallow grave in June.
Guillen’s suspected killer, 20-year-old Spc. Aaron Robinson, shot himself when police attempted to arrest him.
Robinson’s girlfriend, 24-year-old Cecily Aguilar, who helped butcher and dispose of Guillen’s remains, pleaded guilty to several federal charges in November. She faces up to 30 years in prison.
In the wake of Guillen’s death, 21 officers and non-commissioned officers at the base were disciplined, and eight senior commanders were fired, but none of them was criminally charged.
At least 28 Fort Hood soldiers died in 2020 alone as a result of homicides, suicides and accidents, leading to the creation of an independent review panel, which concluded in December that Fort Hoods’ military leaders were not adequately addressing high rates of sexual assault and harassment, drug use and other problems among the soldiers.
The review also found that the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division – the same agency that is now looking into Balsaduaruiz’s death — was understaffed, overwhelmed and filled with inexperienced investigators.
The panel’s chairman told members of Congress in a hearing last year that the base leadership was focused on military readiness, and “completely and utterly neglected” the sexual assault prevention program.
With Post wires
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