The skeletal remains of a missing soldier, who vanished nearly a year ago, were discovered in a field on Friday near Fort Hood, army officials said.
The remains were positively identified as belonging to Gregory Morales, a soldier who was stationed at the U.S. Army base. The discovery was made exactly 10 months after Morales disappeared. Dental records were used to identify him.
Authorities suspect that the 24-year-old was murdered.
“Foul play is suspected at this point in the investigation,” a U.S. Army press release stated. “Army Special Agents are working closely with the Killeen Police Department and are offering a reward of up to $25,000 to anyone with credible information concerning the circumstances surrounding the death of Morales.”
An autopsy is pending regarding Morales’ cause and manner of death. The results haven’t been released as of Monday, officials told.
The 24-year-old was last seen in his vehicle on the evening of Aug. 19, 2019. He was last heard from the following day, army investigators said.
Morales is from Sapulpa, Oklahoma. He previously went by Gregory Wedel; officials said he assumed his wife’s name after marrying. He was scheduled to be discharged from the Army days before he disappeared.
“I just want to thank whoever came forward with the info,” Kim Wedel, Morales’ mother, told KCEN-TV following the recovery of her son’s remains. “We finally have closure and can clear his name.”
Morales joined the Army in 2015 as a motor transport operator. He was later assigned to the 1st Sustainment Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, according to the Army’s press release.
“The First Team is saddened by the news of the passing of PV2 Gregory Morales,” Maj. Gen. Jeffery Broadwater, commander of the 1st Cavalry Division, said in a statement. “His life was taken too soon, and we appreciate his service to our nation.”
During his service, Morales received a number of distinctions, including two Army Achievement Medals, an Army Good Conduct Medal, a National Defense Service Medal, a Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, and a several others.
Killeen Police, who are assisting on the possible homicide investigation, weren’t immediately available for comment on Monday morning.
Officials don’t believe Morales’ death is linked to the disappearance of Vanessa Guillen, another Fort Hood soldier, who went missing earlier this spring.
Guillen, 20, was last seen on April 22 near her squadron headquarters. Her car keys, identification, and wallet were discovered on the base.
In the days following her disappearance, approximately 500 soldiers unsuccessfully scoured the area surrounding Fort Hood for traces of the missing woman. A $25,000 reward has been offered for information leading to her whereabouts.
“That investigation is still being aggressively investigated,” authorities added.
Guillen, who is Hispanic, was last seen wearing a black T-shirt and purple joggers. She stands five feet, two inches, weighs 126 pounds, and has black hair and brown eyes. Army officials described her as an “avid runner.”
Anyone with information related to either missing person’s cases is urged to submit an anonymous tip or contact Army Criminal Investigation Command at 254-287-2722 or the Military Police Desk at 254-288-1170.