HOUSTON – Vanessa Guillen’s family and their attorney Natalie Khawam held a news conference after meeting with military officials to discuss their loved one’s murder investigation and accountability in the case.
Watch the full news conference in the media player above.
Guillen was 20 when she was bludgeoned to death. Her body was found mutilated and buried in a shallow grave. The Army recently confirmed that Guillen reported sexual harassment twice by someone other than her alleged killer, but Army officials failed to report the harassment further up the chain. Her family members say she was sexually harassed by multiple soldiers before she was killed.
The Houston native’s killing spurred investigations both inside and outside the military that found a pattern of violence and abuse against soldiers at Fort Hood in Killeen, the U.S. military’s largest active-duty base, where Guillen was stationed. Her death also ignited widespread calls for military reform to end sexual harassment, sexual assault and violence. And state and federal lawmakers began drafting bills targeting reform.
In Washington, D.C., the original federal bill bearing her name stalled last year in Congress. But lawmakers, armed with the hope of bipartisan support, introduced a new version of it aimed at increasing accountability and justice within the military, titled the “I Am Vanessa Guillen Act of 2021.”
The Guillén family and Khawam said the Army indicated to them that the criminal investigation is closed, but the administrative investigation is ongoing. They said that while accountability is a top priority, they’re “keeping their eye on the ball” to get meaningful, lasting legislation implemented soon.
For more on the case and legislation, read this full report.
The Texas Tribune contributed to this report.