Human remains buried near the Fort Hood military base in Texas belong to missing soldier, Specialist Vanessa Guillen, the US Army has confirmed.
“I lack the words to make sense of this tragic loss,” Fort Hood’s deputy commanding general, Major General Scott Efflandt said of the finding.
Ms Guillen, 20, was last seen on 22 April at the base where she worked.
Her remains were discovered during a search last week near the Leon River, about 30 miles (48km) from Fort Hood.
Ford Hood officials named 20-year-old Aaron David Robinson as the main suspect in Ms Guillen’s disappearance last week. Investigators said the suspect, a junior soldier at the base, took his own life after fleeing his post.
A second suspect, Cecily Aguilar, 22, has been charged with one count of conspiracy to tamper with evidence. Ms Aguilar, who is the estranged wife of a former Fort Hood soldier, is identified in court documents as the girlfriend of Mr Robinson.
According to the criminal complaint against her, Ms Aguilar told investigators that Mr Robinson admitted to her that he had killed Ms Guillen, bludgeoning her to death with a hammer, before moving her body to a remote site.
Mr Robinson allegedly enlisted the help of Ms Aguilar to dismember and dispose of the body. Ms Aguilar is being held in custody while the criminal investigation continues. If convicted, she could face up to 20 years in prison. She is expected back in court on 14 July, when bail could be considered.
Ms Guillen’s family has called for a congressional investigation into the Fort Hood base. They allege that Ms Guillen was harassed by someone in her unit. Her sister, Mayra Guillen said last week she believed Ms Guillen was afraid during her time on the base.
Officials have said they have no report to indicate she was sexually harassed or assaulted. On Monday, Major General Scott Efflandt said the army would “complete the ongoing investigation into sexual harassment and take action against those findings” at the base, in addition to the investigation into Ms Guillen’s murder.
“We all feel her loss,” he said. “The loss of a vibrant young woman who bravely volunteered to serve her country, the loss of a talented soldier, the loss of a loving family member, and the loss of a friend with a bright future ahead of her.”
Ms Guillen, a small-arms repairer with the 3rd Cavalry Regiment, was originally from Houston, Texas – about 200 miles (320km) from Fort Hood.
She was promoted to specialist on Wednesday due to her time in the military, Fort Hood officials said.