General

Vanessa Guillen’s fiance, closest guests factor upsetting investigation

“We did not know what to take into consideration,” her friend remembered.

June 11, 2021, 11: 00 AM

26 min be taught

Vanessa Guillen will without extinguish be 20 years feeble, engaged but will by no arrangement be married. She used to be murdered, inner one in all the Military’s ideal militia installations. Later, the realm learned that she had urged her mother she used to be sexually pressured on the unsuitable.

In the final year, her title has change into a rallying affirm for ladies’s safety and militia reform. Her family is still making an strive to search out answers as to why she used to be killed, and how her murderer escaped justice.

Note the corpulent story on “20/20” TONIGHT at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.

Born and raised in Houston to immigrants from Mexico, Guillen used to be one in all six childhood. Guillen’s family says she had dreamed of serving her nation within the militia since she used to be a teenager. She attended her first Military practicing in June 2018 and used to be later stationed at Citadel Hood, Texas, making the three hour force again to Houston every weekend to undercover agent her family.

Ryan “Cj” Landy, a fellow soldier in her unit, urged “20/20” that he and Guillen grew to change into guests “straight” after she arrived. He remembered serving to her with weightlifting and he or she helped him work on squats and deadlifts.

“She did not seek recommendation from too many people,” Landy urged “20/20.” “However, I guess, it sounds as if I’m extra or less funny normally, and he or she’d crack up all of the time. Love, her chortle used to be very, very contagious.”

Betavious “Tay” Hightower used to be one other one in all Guillen’s “closest guests,” he acknowledged. “Ceaselessly we will dawdle speed, love, 3 miles or about a miles. And he or she would continuously beat me.”

Guillen’s cherished ones whine she had continuously been a fitness fanatic. Her fiancé Juan Cruz, who proposed to her in March 2020, acknowledged that she had outstanding strength — so mighty so that she would maybe furthermore carry him on her shoulders.

“When Houston went on lockdown [for COVID-19], she used to be if truth be told frustrated since the gyms had been closed. She would maybe well be love, ‘Let me carry you so I will attain squats,’” acknowledged Cruz.

He remembered the moment he first seen her at a quinceañera.

“She checked out me once and I acknowledged, ‘Man, she’s ideal,’” Cruz acknowledged. “We danced all night and that’s how I met her.”

“She used to be beside me,” he acknowledged of the proposal. “She used to be honest smiling, having a gape at her oldsters. We had been all utterly chuffed.”

Cruz seen the woman he planned to marry for the final time on April 19, 2020, three days sooner than she went missing.

“She urged me, ‘I comparable to you. Goodnight,’” he acknowledged. “Then, the next day, she awoke, love, at 5 within the morning to leave to Citadel Hood… I was still asleep but I be aware she gave me a kiss and he or she left.”

Vanessa Guillen vanishes

Hightower planned to head hiking with Guillen on Wednesday, April 22, 2020, the day she went missing.

“The conception used to be to head hiking on every occasion she bought off work,” he acknowledged. “She had suspected it used to be gonna be a half of-day. The final time she texted me used to be that morning, and he or she honest despatched a screenshot with the climate. It acknowledged it used to be gonna rain.”

Final year, Military Maj. Gen. Donna Martin urged “20/20” that investigators had stumbled on that Guillen had reported to her work situation within the motor pool that morning. Martin acknowledged she went to the arms room, the do she left her financial institution card, her ID card and the keys to her barracks room and automobile.

At 10: 23 a.m., Guillen despatched a text message confirming the serial replacement of a machine gun. It’s her final identified communication. At 6 p.m, Hightower says he went making an strive to search out her.

“I went to her room and her roommate answered the door,” he acknowledged. “I asked, ‘Own you considered Guillen?’ And he or she acknowledged no. So I went again outside and I walked to the car car parking zone, and I seen her Jeep there. At that point, I suspected one thing used to be up.”

Hightower urged Landy that Vanessa used to be missing. Landy acknowledged he grabbed his keys and the two went out shopping “nearly all around the overall unsuitable.”

“We had been in my automobile on the time,” Landy acknowledged, “and we went to the observe that she continuously would maybe well be at, honest in case she did not if truth be told wanna seek recommendation from anybody and desired to internet stuff off her mind. We drove the route she [would] continuously speed up the road on unsuitable … which used to be 2 miles a ways from the barracks. We went to the motor pool [to] glance if maybe she bought locked in.”

Guillen’s Military guests weren’t the ideal ones disturbed about her disappearance. She hadn’t been responding to texts or calls from family, both, and as day grew to change into to nighttime, Cruz and Vanessa’s sister, Mayra Guillen, drove to Citadel Hood.

“I knew one thing used to be execrable because I would maybe furthermore examine her social media,” Cruz acknowledged. “I was love, ‘Man, I optimistically [will] glance a tweet or one thing. I was honest checking, but nothing.”

“On my arrangement there, I was honest crying because I could maybe not tag it,” Mayra Guillen acknowledged. “I did not wanna mediate the worst, but [I was experiencing] a lotta apprehension.”

They arrived after midnight and Mayra says they had been urged by the workers sergeant to attain again within the morning.

Hightower acknowledged that at round 10 p.m., he stumbled on out that the final person she’d labored with within the arms room used to be Spc. Aaron Robinson. Vanessa Guillen used to be a non-public first class, so he technically ranked above her, although she used to be about to also change into a specialist.

“I known as [Robinson], and he used to be performing love he honest awoke,” Hightower acknowledged. “He acknowledged he did not seek recommendation from her while he used to be in there.”

Landy acknowledged Robinson acted “upset” that all people saved “blowing up his cellular phone.”

The following 24 hours

Landy acknowledged he knew note had gotten out about Vanessa Guillen’s disappearance when he seen the militia police at Citadel Hood the next morning.

Martin acknowledged Citadel Hood authorities contacted the militia police, who bought in touch with native police, then introduced within the U.S. Military Felony Investigative Division (CID).

Hightower acknowledged that as they investigated her disappearance, he began to hear rumors circulating all around the unsuitable about what had took place to his friend, including that she had been kidnapped at a church and that any person had taken her three hours away.

“It used to be so many rumors, we did not know what to take into consideration,” Hightower acknowledged.

Meanwhile, Cruz and Vanessa’s sisters had been desperately making an strive to spread note of her disappearance on their very gain.

“I [was] going to the gas stations, to shops, to the [bus stops] posting missing [signs] … love [for] the love of my existence. Or not it is a nightmare,” Cruz acknowledged. In an interview with KXXV, a native television situation in Killeen, Cruz acknowledged, “She used to be honest long past, so she honest disappeared. Every minute that passes is killing me inner, slowly.”

Landy acknowledged that because Robinson used to be the final person to be considered along with her, a superior asked Robinson “in entrance of all people” about their final interaction.

“[Robinson] used to be love, ‘Oh, I saved it legit; did not whine too mighty to her.’ However love I acknowledged, the night sooner than, he had urged us that he did not whine anything to her at all,” Landy acknowledged.

The scoot goes cold

After two days, the Military officially marked Vanessa Guillen as AWOL, or absent without respectable leave. At the time, there used to be not a missing soldier protocol in do.

Investigators spoke with Robinson, who acknowledged that Vanessa Guillen had left his arms room after finishing a job. He acknowledged he then went to utilize the night with his female friend, Cecily Aguilar, off the unsuitable. Investigators acknowledged Aguilar backed up his alibi.

The Military’s Chief of Workers for the U.S. Military Forces Picture.Maj. Gen. Gene LeBoeuf urged “20/20” in an uncommon interview that there had been several factors that threw off the investigation in its early phases. Her disappearance took place on the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, while “all people’s sheltering,” he acknowledged, so “we had very few troopers passionate about.”

A number of the troopers who had been round gave investigators spoiled details, he acknowledged.

“[The] first error used to be with respect to undercover agent leer reviews,” LeBoeuf acknowledged. “Three separate troopers had indicated that they’d considered Specialist Vanessa Guillen departing the arms room and keen in direction of a motor pool house the do autos are maintained.” This led investigators to head making an strive a ways from the actual scene of the crime.

Moreover, at 4 p.m. that day, she “used to be mistakenly marked present,” he acknowledged.

On Also can 18, almost a month after Vanessa Guillen’s disappearance, investigators spoke to 2 witnesses who acknowledged they seen Robinson exiting the arms room on April 22 with a gigantic case known as a robust box, which they whine he loaded into his automobile sooner than using away.

Investigators spoke to Robinson all over again and he let them search his cellular phone.

“We had been interviewing various other folks within the unit as neatly to search out out, used to be there a relationship between Vanessa and Spc. Robinson that we did not know about? And there used to be none,” Martin acknowledged.

The Guillen family sought abet from felony legit Natalie Khawam, who has experience with conditions keen the militia.

Vanessa’s mother Gloria Guillen acknowledged that her daughter had confided in her that she used to be being sexually pressured at Citadel Hood but that she didn’t story it on account of dismay of retribution and retaliation. Vanessa Guillen also spoke about it along with her guests.

“As cease of guests as we had been, she got right here to us about quite about a various stuff. … We had been extra or less aware [of] what used to be going on,” Landy acknowledged. “I did not power her to attain anything she did not wanna attain. I honest if truth be told handy to her, I was love, ‘I will seek recommendation from this individual for you, or, you perceive, glance what route we can pick about this.’ Alternatively it wasn’t too mighty I will attain.”

When Gloria Guillen spoke publicly to the media about her daughter’s sexual harassment, the case exploded onto the national news scene.

On June 18, two months after Vanessa Guillen vanished, authorities stumbled on skeletal remains cease to the unsuitable in Killeen. Investigators snappy sure that the remains had been too feeble to be Guillen’s.

They within the extinguish identified the remains as missing Citadel Hood soldier Gregory Morales, who’d long past missing in August 2019, nearly a year prior. Morales had been listed as a deserter, but now the Military says infamous play is suspected. His loss of life is still below investigation.

Investigators spoke to over 300 troopers in Vanessa Guillen’s unit, including Hightower.

“We bought pressured. They only saved making an strive to pin it on me or Landy,” Hightower acknowledged. “There used to be one time they introduced me in and they also had been asking questions: occupy I ever stumbled on her horny, and occupy I ever tried her? Own I ever cherished her? They had been love, ‘Maybe you did dawdle hiking along with her, and seemingly you did if truth be told rape her and leave her within the market. And that is the reason doubtlessly what took place to her.’ And they had been honest making an strive to undercover agent my response.”

Landy acknowledged it used to be irritating that investigators had been seemingly not suspicious of Robinson.

“We urged them who to examine from the beginning do, and that’s the reason not what took place. So, I converse love they must still’ve got right here to that conclusion arrangement sooner than they’d.”

Maj. Gen. Gene LeBoeuf, Chief of Workers for the U.S. Military Forces Picture, on the replacement hand, insisted that “Specialist Robinson used to be a person of hobby early on within the investigation. He used to be wondered within two days of the felony investigation…He used to be wondered very early on in this route of.”

Investigators later learned Robinson’s cellular phone pinged in Belton, Texas, by a bridge cease to the Leon River, about a 30 minutes a ways from unsuitable within the early morning hours after Vanessa vanished.

Investigators went to the realm and stumbled on a burn pile, which included a robust box that had not burned utterly.

The pile went 3 feet into the ground and the grime used to be contemporary, but investigators did not internet any human remains, acknowledged Tim Miller, who helped lead the hunt with his group EquuSearch. Investigators introduced a cadaver dog, which signaled that a body would maybe furthermore need been thrown within the water.

Looking out at his cellular phone records, investigators also stumbled on that Robinson had known as Aguilar extra than one events all the arrangement in which via the night after Vanessa Guillen went missing. As soon as they spoke to Aguilar, investigators acknowledged she claimed he used to be calling that night because she couldn’t internet her cellular phone.

Two months after Vanessa Guillen’s disappearance, leadership at Citadel Hood held a press conference the do they launched that investigators believed that infamous play used to be obsessed with her disappearance.

“I was love, ‘About time they acknowledged it,’” Cruz acknowledged. “We been vivid since when it first took place because nothing makes sense. Nothing.”

Hope is misplaced

Investigators and volunteers had searched along the Leon River without success. However on June 30, 2020, contractors working on a fence got right here upon a horrific odor within the identical house. They known as native sheriffs out to the dwelling; the Texas Rangers and Citadel Hood CID soon followed.

Investigators stumbled on human remains which had been buried and lined in concrete. While the remains had been largely obscured, there used to be a lock of hair that used to be sticking out.

Investigators stumbled on remains in three separate shallow graves, every concealed with cement.

“I bought a call from CID on June 30th,” Mayra Guillen acknowledged. “They only urged me, ‘We did internet the partial human remains.’ And this time they did not uncover me, ‘Or not it is not her.’” She bought a second call from Miller, who helped within the hunt.

“I acknowledged, ‘Vanessa’s been stumbled on,’” he remembered. “There used to be quite about a silence after that one. Diverse silence.”

Mayra Guillen acknowledged she “couldn’t give it some thought.”

“The arrangement in which that he knew that it used to be Vanessa used to be because he described her hair to me. And I honest dropped my cellular phone and it used to be honest love all the pieces got right here to an live,” she acknowledged.

Landy acknowledged he stumbled on out his friend’s remains had been stumbled on from a news article.

“She did not deserve any of that. She by no arrangement did anything to anybody to deserve what took place to her at all.”

Later that night, Military investigators wondered Aguilar, they whine she admitted that Robinson had urged her he killed Vanessa Guillen and that she seen her remains within the harsh box that he had carted out of the arms room, the do he urged her he killed Guillen.

In step with a felony criticism that facts what investigators take into consideration took place to Guillen, Aguilar acknowledged she drove with Robinson to the Leon River the do they tried to internet rid of the body. Investigators acknowledged she urged them she and Robinson dismembered the body and dug three separate graves, then got right here again two days later to duvet them with concrete.

Cruz seen the horrific news that his fiancée’s remains had been dismembered via Twitter.

“It got right here up on Twitter, all people used to be talking and I clicked on the conversation that used to be going down and I began to hear the story of what took place,” Cruz acknowledged. “I was at work. I started getting dismay attacks. I bought in my automobile and I began to affirm.”

Investigators saved Robinson below look in a conference room for hours at Citadel Hood but didn’t uncover him why. Troopers had been tasked with searching at Robinson in shifts. While there, he used to be allowed to command on his cell cellular phone to Aguilar, who used to be with investigators and agreed to let them file the calls. In the calls, Robinson didn’t say anything. In step with investigators, he even texted her links to news articles about the remains stumbled on cease to the Leon River.

At round 10 p.m., he used to be heard talking on the cellular phone, it sounds as if to his mother, asserting “don’t take into consideration what you hear about me.” Then, he raced out of the room.

A guard gave drag but Robinson used to be in a situation to internet into a automobile and leave the unsuitable. Aguilar helped authorities pinpoint his arena so that he would maybe furthermore presumably be arrested. About two hours later, In the midst of a road, authorities converged on Robinson, who pulled out a gun and shot himself tedious.

When asked about why it took two hours to observe him down, and how Robinson bought a gun, LaBoeuf acknowledged “We need answers to that too. And that is the reason what the felony investigation is in quest of answers to as neatly.”

Killeen Police occupy body digital camera video and dashcam video from the incident but none of it has been released. The Guillen family’s lawyer is pushing for the proof to be printed to undercover agent if from now on details would maybe furthermore presumably be gleaned from Robinson’s closing moments.

“[I was] inflamed and unhappy on the identical time, because he used to be in our face the overall time,” Hightower acknowledged. “We suspected him. We tried to uncover them that it used to be this person, and he used to be honest strolling round love nothing took place. And he used to be round us, too. And it be love we would maybe furthermore occupy did one thing, but we did not know.”

Vanessa’s legacy

Aguilar used to be charged with conspiracy to cowl and abolish proof in connection to Vanessa Guillen’s loss of life and used to be denied bond on July 14, 2020. Aguilar’s attorneys occupy filed a motion to throw out the overall case and one other motion to suppress the statements officers whine she made. She has pleaded not responsible to costs.

The Secretary of the Military on the time of Vanessa Guillen’s disappearance, Ryan McCarthy, created an self ample overview panel, including investigators, attorneys and retired FBI agents, to undercover agent on the say climate at Citadel Hood.

The findings of the committee identified critical flaws with the sexual harassment and assault response prevention (SHARP) program on the unsuitable, foremost disorders with Citadel Hood Felony Investigation Picture discipline do of business actions, and a say climate at Citadel Hood that used to be permissive of sexual harassment and sexual assault.

“Nothing if truth be told can carry her again at all but so long as we all know be taught the solution to honor her title and be taught the solution to diagram this commerce, I converse love that is seemingly to be some closure for us,” Mayra Guillen acknowledged.

The “I Am Vanessa Guillen” bill, would explicitly checklist sexual harassment as a criminal offense in militia legislation, require the secretary of defense to do a route of for servicemembers to lodge a criticism confidentially and switch the resolution of whether or not to prosecute a sexual offense to an special prosecutor outside the chain of say.

“Or not it is one in all the ideal militia reforms in historical past,” Vanessa Guillen’s various sister, Lupe Guillen, acknowledged. “Or not it is so crucial because this would possibly occasionally carry the abet my sister by no arrangement bought, this would possibly occasionally carry the notify my sister by no arrangement had.”

On April 30, 2021, the Military launched that it had stumbled on Guillen had been sexually pressured by a superior, but that superior used to be not Robinson. The Military acknowledged leadership did not pick appropriate motion.

LaBoeuf published in an interview with “20/20” that she used to be “sexually pressured on two separate events by the identical soldier” — any individual that used to be her superior. LaBoeuf acknowledged he used to be “in Specialist Guillen’s chain of say… any individual that– that had responsibility, a leadership feature over Specialist Guillen.”

He added that the Military can not delivery his title “for the matter of privateness” and is “share of the investigation and the approach.”

He acknowledged that person, along with 20 others, are within the approach of “being held accountable.” He acknowledged 11 had been eliminated from their positions completely, and all 21 occupy “murky marks” on their records “that can persist with them.” It’s miles unclear whether or not the individual that pressured Guillen would maybe be prosecuted at the present.

“I was astonished that they’d so mighty details and facts. The ideal unhappy share used to be that they had been holding the identities and names of the perpetrators,” Khawam acknowledged. She wondered the Military’s conclusion that Robinson did not harass Vanessa Guillen. “So he can rupture her but he would not sexually harass her. … That is below him? And if he did not sexually harass her, let’s honest play that share, neatly then why the heck would he bludgeon her to loss of life?”

Chris Swecker, a feeble chief within the FBI who helped lead the self ample overview panel at Citadel Hood, acknowledged that even although the say investigation stumbled on “no proof that Spc. Robinson pressured Spc. Guillen, that’s not to explain on the morning of her rupture that he wasn’t within the within the act of assaulting or harassing her. However, sooner than that, there would possibly be no proof in any arrangement that Spc. Robinson pressured her.”

The Guillen family desires extra answers, too.

“Can you strive to examine even additional as to why this used to be committed? Why? Why? Appropriate why?” Mayra Guillen acknowledged.

“That is [what] we are making an strive to occupy that answered as neatly. And that is the reason exactly what the felony investigation is about,” LaBoeuf acknowledged. “We need to know exactly what went on in that arms room. We need to know exactly why it took place. The family deserves these answers.”

On the eve of the one-year anniversary of Vanessa Guillen’s rupture, the Military dedicated a gate to her memory at Citadel Hood.

“That entrance leads to [the] 3rd Calvary Regiment,” Lupe Guillen acknowledged. “That is the regiment Vanessa feeble to work, and all people that passes via that gate will glance my sister’s title, my sister’s image and remind themselves about how sexual harassment and assault need to be taken severely, and about the kind she used to be murdered because no person deserves that.”

Cruz acknowledged he thinks continuously about his slack fiancée.

“Recollections by no arrangement die,” he acknowledged. “It honest looks love a nightmare when I force via Houston. I look her murals and I whine to myself, ‘Rattling, right here’s actuality. She’s no longer right here.’ On the many hand, murals aren’t made for honest anybody. That introduced me a chunk of peace to my coronary heart.”


ABC News


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