Missing Soldier Was Part of 'Sexual Contact' Investigation

The Army had relocated Sgt. Elder Fernandes to another unit
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 22, 2020 2:30 PM CDT
Missing Soldier Was Part of 'Sexual Contact' Investigation
This photo provided by the US Army shows Sgt. Elder Fernandes.   (US Army via AP)

A missing Fort Hood soldier had been part of a sexual-assault investigation before he disappeared, CNN reports. The Army said Thursday that Sgt. Elder Fernandes, who vanished Monday, had been moved to another unit after being the recipient of possible "abusive sexual contact." A public affairs officer for the 1st Cavalry Division said the unit's sexual-assault response coordinator had been "working closely" with Fernandes to see that he received "proper care" and "ensure there were no opportunities for reprisals." The 23-year-old was last seen in Killeen, Texas, when his staff sergeant dropped him off at home.

"We are very concerned about the welfare of this soldier and first and foremost we want to ensure he is okay," said a rep for the Army's Criminal Investigation Command, per NBC 6 News. "If someone out there has any information, regardless of how trivial you may think it is, we are asking you to contact us immediately." The 1st Cavalry Division tweeted Friday that "we do not suspect foul play" in Fernandes' case, but the missing soldier's aunt calls his disappearance "very, very unusual." When it comes to murder, sexual assault, and harassment, Fort Hood is considered one of the Army's most dangerous bases. Three Fort Hood soldiers have already been found dead near the Texas base this summer. (More Fort Hood stories.)

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