The U.S. Army is asking for the public’s help in its search for another soldier missing from Fort Hood, Texas.
Army officials at Fort Hood issued a missing soldier alert Thursday night for Sgt. Elder Fernandes, 23.
"Our primary concern is for his health and well-being," the Army said in the alert.
Police in nearby Killeen, who are also investigating, said he had been reported missing Wednesday. Family members told police he was last seen or heard from Monday afternoon when his staff sergeant dropped him off at his home in Killeen.
The soldier, whose family is originally from Cape Verde in West Africa, had been in the hospital for four or five days prior to his disappearance, Ailiana Fernandes, Elder's mother, told NBC News. It's still unclear to her why her son was in the hospital, she said.
Ailiana, who lives in Massachusetts, traveled to Fort Hood to seek answers on her son's whereabouts. "As of right now, I'm not getting any answers," she said.
Fernandes is a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear specialist with the 1st Cavalry Division Sustainment Brigade at the Central Texas Army installation. He was last seen wearing black Army physical training shorts and a T-shirt with red athletic shoes, according to Killeen police.
Tipsters are asked to contact Fort Hood military police at 254-288-1170 or the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command at 254-287-2722. People can also contact the Killeen Police Department at 254-200-7905.
Fort Hood has been in the spotlight following reports of other missing soldiers, particularly Spc. Vanessa Guillén, 20, whose remains were later found after extensive national attention.
Fernandes' disappearance comes exactly one year after another Fort Hood soldier, Pfc. Gregory Wedel-Morales, 24, was reported missing Aug. 20, 2019.
Wedel-Morales' remains were found June 21 in a field in Killeen, just over 10 miles from Stillhouse Hollow Lake. Killeen police are still investigating his death.
Army officials found Guillén's remains July 1, more than two months after she was reported missing at the end of April. Her remains were found near the Leon River in Bell County, about 20 miles east of Fort Hood.
Federal and state authorities said Spc. Aaron Robinson, 20, killed and dismembered Guillén and had the remains disposed of in nearby woods. Robinson, a fellow Fort Hood soldier, died by suicide July 1 after Guillén’s remains were found, officials said.
Cecily Aguilar, 22, of Killeen, has been accused of helping Robinson to dispose of Guillén’s body and has been charged with three federal conspiracy counts related to Guillén’s death. Aguilar, who pleaded "not guilty," is due in court Sept. 28.
Army officials have also found the bodies of other Fort Hood soldiers over the past few months.
Pvt. Mejhor Morta, 26, was found unresponsive July 17 in the vicinity of Stillhouse Hollow Lake, a reservoir managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Fort Worth District, according to Fort Hood officials. Earlier this month, Fort Hood officials said they recovered the body of Spc. Francisco Gilberto Hernandez-Vargas, 24, following a boating incident on the lake Aug. 2.
Army leaders have delayed the planned transfer of Maj. Gen. Scott Efflandt, the Fort Hood commander, to a more prestigious assignment at Fort Bliss, Texas, while a team of independent investigators determines if leadership failures contributed to the deaths and disappearances. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy has commented that Fort Hood has one of the highest rates of murder, sexual assault and harassment in the Army.
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