In major Texas cities, protesters and mourners took to the streets over the weekend as the remains found near Fort Hood were confirmed by family to belong to missing Army Spc. Vanessa Guillén.
Guillén, 20, had been missing from the Central Texas Army base since April. The remains of a body found in a nearby shallow grave last week pushed the case into the national spotlight, according to The Washington Post. On Saturday and Sunday, protesters in Houston — Guillén's hometown — criticized the speed of the investigation into Guillén's disappearance and called for the military to reform its investigations into sexual assault allegations, the Houston Chronicle reported. The soldier had reportedly told her family before her disappearance that she had been harassed on base, and the key suspect in her death had reportedly been suspected of harassing her.
Demonstrators and mourners marched through the streets and lit candles in Houston, San Antonio, Austin and El Paso on Sunday, holding "Justice for Vanessa" signs and U.S. and Mexican flags for the Army specialist, who was Mexican American.
Last week, after the remains were found, the U.S. Department of Justice said the main suspect in Guillén's death, fellow Fort Hood soldier Aaron Robinson, shot and killed himself when confronted by police. A criminal complaint alleged Robinson, 20, admitted to another woman he killed a female soldier by bludgeoning her with a hammer in April and then took her body to a remote spot in Bell County. The woman, Cecily Aguilar, 22, faces a federal charge of conspiracy to tamper with evidence. She's accused of helping mutilate and dispose of Guillén's body.
A lawyer for Guillén's family told the Chronicle she gave Robinson's name to the Army earlier, after learning he may have previously harassed her. Fort Hood officials said in June it had launched an investigation into Guillén's sexual harassment claims, but protesters said the actions were too slow and not enough. They called for a sweeping cultural change, noting the military's history of unchecked sexual violence, the Chronicle reported.
First: Friends of Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillén gathered outside Power House Gym in Houston during a vigil held in her honor. Last: Juan Cruz knelt Sunday in front of a mural honoring Guillén, his girlfriend, during a vigil in Houston.
Briana Vargas for The Texas Tribune
Hundreds of protesters marched through downtown Houston during a protest over the death of Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillén. Guillén was a Houston native who went missing from Fort Hood in April.
Mark Felix for The Texas Tribune
El Pasoans held a vigil recently for Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillén.
Mark Lambie/El Paso Times via REUTERS
A group of protesters gathered at the state Capitol for a vigil in honor of Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillén. The main suspect in Guillén's death, a fellow Fort Hood soldier, fatally shot himself when confronted by police.
Eddie Gaspar/The Texas Tribune
First: Irma Ramos attended a vigil for slain Army Spc. Vanessa Guillén at the San Fernando Cathedral in downtown San Antonio. The hashtag #NoMas was used as a sign of solidarity against allegations of the military's mishandling of sex crimes. Last: More than 100 people gathered for a vigil in San Antonio to honor Guillén.
Jolene Almendarez for The Texas Tribune