Missing Fort Hood Soldier Elder Fernandes Reportedly Died by Suicide

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U.S. Army Sgt. Elder Fernandes
In this file photo provided by the U.S. Army is Sgt. Elder Fernandes. (U.S. Army via AP)

A 23-year-old Fort Hood soldier who was found dead last month reportedly died by suicide.

The body of Sgt. Elder Fernandes, who went missing on Aug. 19, was discovered near the railroad tracks in Temple, Texas, on Aug. 25.

His family's lawyer, Natalie Khawam, said publicly that Fernandes was found hanging from a tree, but police have not confirmed her announcement.

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A Dallas medical examiner has ruled his death a suicide, NBC News reported.

In the weeks leading up to his disappearance, an investigation had been launched at the base after Fernandes reported "abusive sexual contact."

"The chain of command takes all allegations of sexual harassment and assault seriously," Lt. Col. Chris Brautigam, a Fort Hood spokesman, previously told KTRK.

Fernandes had been transferred out of his unit after reporting the abuse, but the Army's Criminal Investigation Division announced the day after his body was found that his allegations were "unsubstantiated."

An internal investigation at Fort Hood has been launched after Fernandes joins a growing list of soldiers who have died this year. Fort Hood commander Maj. Gen. Scott Efflandt has also been reassigned.

On Tuesday, Congress announced a probe into the string of deaths.

"As members of Congress, it is our solemn responsibility to provide a full accounting of the conditions and circumstances that may have contributed to the recent disappearances and deaths of U.S. Army personnel at Fort Hood," Reps. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass) and Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) wrote in a letter to Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy.

"Where appropriate, we intend to seek justice on behalf of those in uniform, and their families, who may have been failed by a military system and culture that was ultimately responsible for their care and protection."

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This article was written by Kate Feldman from New York Daily News and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the Industry Dive publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@industrydive.com.

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