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Vanessa Guillen Died ‘in the Line of Duty,’ Army Officials Say

The family of Specialist Vanessa Guillen is entitled to her Army benefits after investigators concluded that her death was “in the line of duty,” the United States Army said in a statement on Tuesday.

Those benefits usually include money to help a soldier’s family with expenses, a funeral with full military honors and “final pay and allowance,” the Army said in a statement.

The determination is the latest development in a death that prompted outrage from Fort Hood, her Army base in Texas, to Washington, where an investigation was opened into the handling of her case and where legislation was introduced that would change how sexual harassment complaints are investigated in the military.

Specialist Guillen’s family has raised allegations that before she was killed she had been sexually harassed.

Credit…U.S. Army

The case has drawn attention from lawmakers, celebrities and public figures, and has drawn particular outrage from Latinos and women in the military.

Specialist Guillen was reported missing on April 23. Her car keys, room key, ID and wallet were found in the armory room where she had been repairing small arms and artillery. In June, her dismembered and burned remains were found near the Leon River in Bell County, Texas.

On July 2, the Army said she had been killed by another soldier, Specialist Aaron Robinson, who then tried to dispose of her remains. Specialist Robinson killed himself with a pistol as the police approached him, officials said. Cecily Aguilar, the girlfriend of Specialist Robinson, was later arrested and charged with one count of conspiracy to tamper with evidence. In a criminal complaint, officials said she helped Specialist Robinson “mutilate and dispose” of Specialist Guillen’s body.

In August a public memorial service for Specialist Guillen was held in Houston, where she had lived. The event, which was streamed on Facebook Live, lasted more than seven hours and included several Catholic and Mexican traditions. A mariachi band, paid for by the singer Becky G, also performed.

In September, a bill named after Specialist Guillen was introduced in the House of Representatives that would require that sexual harassment complaints involving service members be sent to an independent investigator.

Also in September, an Army investigation into Specialist Guillen’s killing was expanded to include the entire chain of command at Fort Hood after both male and female soldiers described a culture of sexual harassment and bullying that they said was ignored by leadership.


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