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Family of murdered Fort Hill soldier Vanessa Guillen still seeking answers 1 year later

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It’s been more than a year since Vanessa Guillen’s dismembered body was found a half hour from her base at Fort Hood, Texas — and her family and friends are still plagued with unanswered questions.

The 20-year-old solider disappeared on April 22, 2020, and friends and family quickly feared the worst, they told ABC’s 20/20.

Guillen’s loved ones have long believed a soldier who killed himself after her remains were found was the culprit in her murder — but say the Army’s investigation of her killing needs to be probed.

It took two months before the Army determined foul play was behind Guillen’s disappearance. And while they interviewed Spc. Aaron Robinson — who was later determined to be the killer — the investigators seemed to focus more on the friends who raised the alert that she was missing.

Fellow soldier Ryan “Cj” Landy, said he and Guillen quickly became buddies — but Army investigators weren’t interested in investigating Robinson.

Private First Class Vanessa Guillen, 20, was last seen at a parking lot at Fort Hood.
It took two months for investigators to find out there was any foul play in Guillen’s disappearance.
Guillen had gone missing last April.
Guillen had gone missing in April 2020.
Activist, actress and filmmaker Armida Lopez leads a peaceful caravan and protest for justice for Vanessa Guillen at Staples Center last summer.
Activist, actress and filmmaker Armida Lopez leads a caravan and protest for justice for Vanessa Guillen at Staples Center last summer.
Rich Fury/Getty Images
The family of Vanessa Guillen reveals a gate dedicated in her honor during a ceremony and press conference at Fort Hood military base.
The family of Vanessa Guillen reveals a gate dedicated in her honor at Fort Hood military base.
Brontë Wittpenn/Austin American-Statesman via AP

“We told them who to investigate from the beginning, and that’s not what happened. So, I feel like they should’ve came to that conclusion way earlier than they had,” he said.

“We got harassed. They just kept trying to pin it on me or Landy,” another pal, Betavious “Tay” Hightower, told “20/20.” “There was one time they brought me in and they were asking questions: have I ever found her attractive, and have I ever tried her? Have I ever liked her? They were like, ‘Maybe you did go hiking with her, and maybe you did actually rape her and leave her out there. And that’s probably what happened to her.’ And they were just trying to see my reaction.”

After Guillen’s remains were found, Robinson killed himself.

People pay respects at a mural of Vanessa Guillen in Austin, Texas.
People pay respects at a mural of Vanessa Guillen in Austin, Texas.
Sergio Flores/Getty Images
Spc. Aaron Robinson was determined to be the killer of Guillen.
Spc. Aaron Robinson was determined to be the killer of Guillen.
U.S. Army
US President Donald Trump speaks with Gloria Guillen.
US President Donald Trump speaks with Gloria Guillen.
AFP via Getty Images

Before her death, Guillen had told her mother she was sexually harassed by a fellow soldier, but felt she had no way to report it.

A committee appointed to review the climate at Fort Hood found major flaws with the sexual harassment and assault response prevention program at the base, along with problems with the base’s criminal investigation unit, and a climate that was permissive of sexual harassment and assault, ABC News reported.

Guillen’s family is hoping that a bill named for her will be her legacy.

Military personnel carry the casket of Vanessa Guillen last August.
Military personnel carry the casket of Vanessa Guillen in August 2020.
Go Nakamura/Getty Images
Guillen told her mother that she had been sexually harassed before her slaying.
Guillen told her mother that she had been sexually harassed before her slaying.
Go Nakamura/Getty Images
Rep. Jackie Speier introduced the “I Am Vanessa Guillen” bill.
Rep. Jackie Speier introduced the “I Am Vanessa Guillen” bill.
Jacquelyn Martin – Pool/Getty Images

The “I Am Vanessa Guillen” bill, would list sexual harassment as a crime in military law, require the secretary of defense to establish a process for servicemembers to lodge a complaint confidentially and move the decision of whether to prosecute a sexual offense to an special prosecutor outside the chain of command.

“It’s one of the biggest military reforms in history,” Guillen’s sister, Lupe Guillen, told ABC. “It’s so important because it will bring the help my sister never obtained, it will bring the voice my sister never had.”

The bill, introduced by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif) in September with 187 co-sponsors, has seen no action since from the House Armed Services Committee.

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