Fort Hood General Makes Facebook Plea to Find Missing Soldier

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Missing Fort Hood Soldier, Pfc. Vanessa Guillen.
Missing Fort Hood Soldier, Pfc. Vanessa Guillen. (Courtesy: Fort Hood Press Center)

The deputy commander of the Army's III Corps at Fort Hood, Texas, turned to Facebook recently to plead for information about a female soldier from his command who has been missing since April.

Maj. Gen. Scott Efflandt's post about Pfc. Vanessa Guillen came hours after post officials announced that skeletal remains found Friday in Killeen, Texas, had been positively identified as those of Pvt. Gregory Morales, another Hood soldier who went missing in August.

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Investigators from Army Criminal Investigation Command suspect foul play in Morales' death but at this point have no credible information that it is in any way connected to Guillen's disappearance, according to CID officials.

Guillen, a member of the 3rd Cavalry Regiment at Hood, was last seen at her place of duty around noon April 22, Efflandt said.

"We want to bring Vanessa home as efficiently and as rapidly as possible and, toward that end, I am asking for your assistance," a sullen-looking Efflandt said in the Facebook post. "Somebody, some person out there, has the piece of information we need to bring Vanessa home.

"We will continue to search for our missing member of our Army family," he added. "If you're the person that has the information we need, I ask you please call 254-495-7767."

Meanwhile, the Army is offering up to $25,000 to anyone with credible information concerning the circumstances surrounding Morales' death, according to the news release.

Morales, a 24-year-old native of Sapulpa, Oklahoma, entered the Army in June 2015 as a motor transport operator and had been assigned to the 1st Sustainment Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, since November 2016.

Morales' awards and decorations include two Army Achievement Medal, the Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Korea Defense Service Medal, Overseas Service Ribbon, Driver and Mechanics Badge, and Army Service Ribbon.

"The First Team is saddened by the news of the passing of PV2 Gregory Morales. His life was taken too soon, and we appreciate his service to our nation," Maj. Gen. Jeffery Broadwater, commander of the 1st Cavalry Division, said in the release.

Morales' remains were discovered in a field near the 3200 block of Florence Road on Friday morning after CID special agents received information about the location of the body, according to the release. He was positively identified using dental records with the assistance of the U.S. Army Dental Corps.

An autopsy is scheduled to determine the cause and manner of death, the release states.

Morales was last seen driving his personally owned vehicle in Killeen on the night of Aug. 19, 2019, according to the release. Also known as Gregory Wedel, he was out-processing from the Army and was scheduled to be discharged within a couple of days when he disappeared, according to the release. Wedel was his last name before he took his wife's name after their marriage.

Army investigators found Morales' vehicle in January after his family saw on CARFAX that someone in the Dallas area had tried to take it in for an inspection, Fox News reported.

"We just want to thank whoever gave the tip to CID that led to him being found," Morales' mother, Kim Wedel, told Fox. "While the news was not unexpected, it is still very hard to process this."

The reward for information into the disappearance of Guillen has grown to $50,000. CID is also offering a reward of up to $25,000 for information leading to Houston native's whereabouts. The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), a leading civil rights organization for Latinos, recently announced an additional $25,000 reward is being offered for information about her case, CBS News reported.

Guillen, a small arms/artillery repair specialist, was last seen in the parking lot of the Regimental Engineer Squadron Headquarters at Fort Hood. Guillen's identification card, wallet and the keys to her car and base apartment were later found in the armory room where she had been earlier in the day, according to Army officials.

CID officials could not release any further information on either case, but they are "actively pursuing leads," CID spokesman Chris Grey told Military.com.

"They are top priority cases right now, and we are going to solve both of them," he said.

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com.

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