KILLEEN, TX — New details have emerged in the disappearance of 23-year-old Sgt. Elder Fernandes stationed at Fort Hood. According to Army officials, the sergeant had reported sexual abuse at the army post.
According to Army Times, the army confirmed there was an “open investigation of abusive sexual contact” involving Fernandes.
“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,” said Fort Hood Public Affairs Officer Lt. Col. Chris Brautigam.
According to Brautigam, Fernandes was transferred to another unit after reporting the abuse.
"The chain of command takes all allegations of sexual harassment and assault seriously. 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."
According to the Fernandes family, the sergeant was last seen by his staff sergeant last Monday afternoon after he dropped Fernandes at his residence in the 2700 block of Woodlands Drive in Killeen. Fernandes would not show up to work the next day.
According to Fort Hood officials, his only known vehicle was located on base at his unit’s parking lot. According to his family members he had just signed a new lease but had not picked up his keys.
In a press release, Fort Hood officials stated they do not believe there was foul play in the disappearance and that Fernandes left by his own decision.
“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.”
Fernandes is African American, 5 feet, 5 inches tall, and 133 pounds. He has black hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing a black Army physical training shirt and shorts with black, orange, and yellow athletic shoes.
Fernandes is the third soldier from Fort Hood to go missing in the past year.