Body of missing Fort Hood soldier may have been found: Police

Sgt. Elder Fernandes was last seen Aug. 17.

August 26, 2020, 5:51 PM

Authorities in Texas believe a body found Tuesday likely is that of missing Fort Hood soldier Sgt. Elder Fernandes, who was last seen on Aug. 17.

Responding to a medical call Tuesday, police in Temple, Texas, found a deceased person near some railroad tracks. Police said identification found at the scene suggests the person is Fernandes, however, there has been no forensic confirmation.

Temple Police said there's no indication of foul play.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the Fernandes family during this challenging time," Temple Police Chief Shawn Reynolds said in a statement Tuesday night.

Fernandes' mother, Ailina Fernandes, and brother, Elton Fernandes, told ABC News last week that he had reported being sexually harassed in the months leading up to his disappearance.

"It was an ongoing investigation for two months that will never get closure," his mother said. "And there's a lot more that I don't know; only Elder will be able to tell us, when we find him."

At a press conference on Wednesday, an attorney for the Fernandes family, Natalie Khawam, told reporters the body was indeed the 23-year-old. Officials have not confirmed it.

"Looks what happen when you report sexual harassment at Fort Hood," Khawam said. "You get bullied, you get hazed, you get harassed, you turn up dead. That base is toxic. Our soldiers are not safe."

The 1st Cavalry Division confirmed there is an open investigation into alleged abusive sexual contact involving Fernandes to ABC last week, saying that he was moved to a new unit and steps were taken to shield him from retribution.

PHOTO: This photo provided by the U.S. Army shows Sgt. Elder Fernandes.
This photo provided by the U.S. Army shows Sgt. Elder Fernandes.
U.S. Army via AP

Fernandes' disappearance is just one of several this year from Fort Hood. The murder of Vanessa Guillen sparked nationwide outrage and at least three soldiers from the base died in July.

PHOTO: Sgt. Elder Fernandes, 23, is pictured in a photo released by the Killeen Police Department in Killeen, Texas, on Aug. 20, 2020. He was reported missing by his family, who have not heard from him since Aug. 17.
Sgt. Elder Fernandes, 23, is pictured in a photo released by the Killeen Police Department in Killeen, Texas, on Aug. 20, 2020. He was reported missing by his family, who have not heard from him since Aug. 17.
Killeen Police Department

Officials said they believe Fernandes left Fort Hood on his own accord.

A 1st Cavalry Division official confirmed that Fernandes was hospitalized from Aug. 11 to Aug. 17.

According to police, Fernandes was last seen by his staff sergeant on the afternoon of the 17th when he dropped him off at a residence in nearby Killeen, Texas, police said.

ABC News' Matt Seyler contributed to this report.

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