KILLEEN, Texas – Fort Hood is confirming that Sgt. Elder Fernandes initiated an abusive sexual contact report before he disappeared on August 19th.
Lieutenant Colonel Chris Brautigam says the unit sexual assault response coordinator had been working closely with Sgt. Fernandes to ensure he was aware of all his reporting, care, and victim advocacy options.
LTC Brautigam says Sgt. Fernandes was deployed to a different unit within the brigade to ensure he received the proper care and ensure there were no opportunities for reprisals.
The Killeen Police Department is asking the community if anyone has seen Fernandes – who has not been heard from by his family since August 17.
“We need answers. We need to know where my nephew is, my sister’s son is. We need to know that he’s okay. We need to know that he’s alive. We need him home,” said Isabel Neves Fernandes, Sgt. Elder Fernandes’ Aunt.
The Killeen Police Department says 23-year-old Elder Fernandes was last seen by his Staff Sergeant on Monday afternoon, when he dropped him off at his residence located in the 2700 block of Woodlands Drive in Killeen.
Family says he was being dropped off after being discharged from the Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center. They still don’t know why he was in the hospital, but say the address where he was taken is not where he lives.
“Dropped off at an address that supposedly he gave him, but he does not live at that address. His car is at the base filled with his belongings, and he rented an apartment, paid for the apartment, set up all the utilities, never showed up to get the keys, and he’s M.I.A.,” said Neves-Fernandes.
Right now, his mother Ailina Neves is in Killeen. She arrived Wednesday from their hometown of Braintree, Massachusetts to look for him.
“She’s lost. She’s driving around like a crazy person trying to find him herself,” said Neves-Fernandes.
The family has been researching Fort Hood and learning about Specialist Vanessa Guillen’s case – and although they are trying to stay positive, they say something must be done.
“Obviously, something is going on at that base. With all the other numbers of soldiers that have disappeared from there. This is not normal. Something is going on there and somebody needs to do something,” said Neves-Fernandes.
A statement from Fort Hood says:
“We have completed a search of the entire division area, to include motorpools, parking lots, and headquarters buildings and the unit is in contact with the soldier’s family, the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division and civilian law enforcement agencies to help find him as we continue our search.”– Fort Hood
Fernandes is approximately 5’4” tall, and weighs approximately 133 pounds. He was last seen wearing black army PT shorts, and a t-shirt with red athletic shoes.
“He’s a happy young man. He has a big family, and we all love him very much,” added Neves-Fernandes.
On Friday, Texas Equusearch announced that it would be sending representatives to help in the search.
Detectives with the Criminal Investigation Division are asking anyone who has seen Elder Fernandes or knows his whereabouts to contact the Killeen Police Department at (254) 200-7905.
The First Cavalry Division is also actively attempting to locate Sergeant Fernandes, who is a chemical, biological, radiolical, and nuclear specialist assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division Sustainment Brigade.
They report completing a search of the entire division area – including motorpools, parking lots and headquarters buildings – and the unit is in contact with the soldier’s Family, the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division and civilian law enforcement agencies to help find him as the search continues.
The Division reports finding him and ensuring his safety is a top priority, with the primary concern being for his health and well-being.
This incident is being investigated, and information will be released as it becomes available.
Elder Fernandes’ family have started a GoFundMe page to help pay for expenses as him mom and brother search for him in Killeen.
Source: Killeen Police Department, Fort Hood