Fort Hood Commander Removed from Post After Deaths, Disappearances Tied to Base

by San Eli News

The U.S. Army on Tuesday announced the removal of its top commander at Fort Hood in Texas.

Maj. Gen Scott Efflandt was also denied the command position for the 1st Armored Division.

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The Army said Efflandt will stay at Fort Hood and continue to serve as the deputy commanding general for support.

On Tuesday, the Army also announced that Gen. John Murray, the commanding general of Army Futures Command, would lead an “in-depth investigation into the chain of command actions related to Spc. Vanessa Guillen.”

In late June, the partial remains of the 20-year-old Guillen were discovered in a shallow grave near the Leon River in rural Bell County. Guillen’s suspected killer, Spc. Aaron David Robinson, 20, died by suicide as police closed in on him.

Robinson’s girlfriend, Cecily Anne Aguilar, 22, is accused of helping Robinson dismember Guillen and dispose of her remains. She is charged with one count of conspiracy to tamper with evidence and two substantive counts of tampering with evidence and has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Vanessa Guillen
US Army

Guillen’s family has said she had complained about sexual harassment before her death and has repeatedly asked for a congressional investigation into how Fort Hood handled her case.

“The base needs a congressional investigation,” Guillen family attorney Natalie Khawam tells PEOPLE, alleging Efflandt “mishandled” Guillen’s complaint.

“The system needs to be changed,” she added. “It is not about the leader. The way he mishandled the investigation and command under his watch was part of the problem, but it is not the entire problem. The problem is our soldiers don’t have protections and rights. The family of these soldiers are being left in the dark.”

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The shakeup comes after after a series of suspicious deaths that have plagued Fort Hood.

Last month, the body of Sgt. Elder Fernandes, 23, was found hanging from a tree near a railroad. He was last seen by his staff sergeant on August 17, when a sergeant dropped him off at his residence. Shortly after Fernandes disappeared, Lt. Col. Chris Brautigam, a 1st Cavalry Division public affairs officer, said in a statement to CNN that there was an “open investigation of abusive sexual contact” involving Fernandes, who was classified as a victim in the inquest.

Through their attorney, Fernandes’ family allege that an assault did happen, and said it impacted Fernandes’ mental well-being. The Army later said those claims were “unsubstantiated.”

Sgt. Elder Fernandes
Fort Hood

In early August, Brandon Michael Olivares, 28, was accused of killing 27-year-old Pfc. Brandon Scott Rosecrans. Police said Olivares and Rosecrans were traveling together in Rosecrans’ Jeep Renegade before he was shot. His Jeep was later found engulfed in flames.

RELATED: Vanessa Guillen Case: What We Know About Killing of Fort Hood Soldier

Olivares is being held on a $1 million bond and has pleaded not guilty.

And in late June, the partial remains of Guillen were discovered near the Leon River in rural Bell County. While Guillen was still missing, actress Salma Hayek took to social media to spread awareness of the case with her 15 million followers.

The actress, 53, shared an Instagram post regarding details about Guillen’s disappearance — and reiterated the sexual harassment claims. The post said that Guillen’s mother alleged her daughter “had complained to her about a sergeant sexually harassing her.”