Missing Fort Hood Sergeant Elder N. Fernandes had been the victim of alleged “abusive sexual contact” before he disappeared on Monday, an Army spokesperson confirmed to CBS News. The 23-year-old was last seen by members of his unit on Monday at a residence in Killeen, Texas.
“The unit sexual assault response coordinator has been working closely with Sgt. Fernandes, ensuring he was aware of all his reporting, care, and victim advocacy options,” a public affairs officer for the 1st Cavalry Division said in a statement, adding that he had been transferred to a different unit within his brigade “to ensure he received the proper care and ensure there were no opportunities for reprisals.”
The army base has faced scrutiny after several soldiers from the Texas facility have gone missing or died this year — including Specialist Vanessa Guillen, whose remains were discovered nearly seven weeks ago.
The Army’s Criminal Investigation Command asked the public for help on Friday, tweeting out a flyer and description of Fernandes. Soldiers have indicated that Fernandes may have left the base of his own accord, according to the Army. Fernandes did not report to work on Tuesday as scheduled, and his only known vehicle was on base at his unit’s parking lot, the Army said.
The 1st Calvary Division said they do not suspect foul play and that they are “fully committed to finding him and ensuring his well-being.”
Fernandes, who is Black, was last seen wearing a black Army physical training shirt and shorts with black, orange, and yellow athletic shoes, the Army said in a press release.
“We are very concerned about the welfare of this Soldier and first and foremost we want to ensure he is okay,” said Christopher Grey, a spokesman for the Criminal Investigation Command. “If someone out there has any information, regardless of how trivial you may think it is, we are asking you to contact us immediately.”
Fort Hood has not returned CBS News’ request for comment.
The death of Specialist Vanessa Guillen, whose, has sparked an independent investigation into the Army base. Guillen is by a fellow soldier who .
Several Fort Hood soldiers have died on or near the base this year.in many of the cases, officials said earlier this month.
Specialist Francisco Gilberto Hernandezvargas, 24, died in a boating accident on a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reservoir near the Fort Hood base on August 2. Private Mejhor Morta, 26, was found unresponsive on July 17 in the same area.
On March 9, Specialist Christopher Wayne Sawyer, 29, was found unresponsive in his residence on the base and later died. The skeletal remains of Private Gregory Scott Morales, 24, who went missing last August, were found on June 19.