Army shakes up Fort Hood leadership after Vanessa Guillen’s murder
WASHINGTON – The Army announced on Tuesday a shakeup and investigation of leadership at Fort Hood, a sprawling base in Killeen, Texas, after the murder of Spc. Vanessa Guillen, who had complained of sexual harassment.
Maj. Gen. Scott Efflandt, the deputy commander of III Corps at Fort Hood, will no longer take command of the 1st Armored Division at Fort Bliss in El Paso, according to the Army. Efflandt will remain at Fort Hood but be replaced as deputy corps commander by Maj. Gen. John Richardson. The change in command had been scheduled, the Army said, but not the move to keep Efflandt from the prestigious command of a division.
Gen. John Murray, one of the Army’s senior leaders, will lead an investigation into the chain of command for its handling of Guillen’s murder. The discovery of her body after she had been missing for nearly three months sparked accusations among her family and on Capitol Hill that the Army failed to act with urgency to find her.
Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said a survey of soldiers at Fort Hood showed that about one-third said they’d been subjected to sexual harassment. He said crime figures at the post are high.
“The numbers are bad, and we need to make some adjustments,” McCarthy said. “We’re very concerned.”
In July, searchers found the remains of Guillen who had been bludgeoned to death and dismembered. A fellow soldier, who died by suicide as authorities closed in, is suspected of killing her. Guillen had complained about being sexually harassed at the base.
The Army tasked an independent panel with examining the circumstances of her death and the culture surrounding Fort Hood.
On Aug. 25, the body of Sgt. Elder Fernandes was found hanging from a tree about 25 miles from the base. Fernandes was the target of harassment after complaining that he had been groped by a superior officer, according to his family’s lawyer. Authorities said Fernandes was not murdered.