^
Keep Houston Press Free
4
| Crime |

Slain Army Soldier Vanessa Guillén’s Public Memorial Service is Underway in Houston

Lupe Guillén, sister of slain Army soldier Vanessa Guillén, spoke to mourners at Friday's memorial service for the murdered Houston native.
Lupe Guillén, sister of slain Army soldier Vanessa Guillén, spoke to mourners at Friday's memorial service for the murdered Houston native.
Screenshot

Houston native Vanessa Guillén’s public memorial service is underway today at Cesar Chavez High School, Guillén’s alma mater. Guillén’s family and friends were joined by their fellow Houstonians to mourn the loss of the 20-year-old Army soldier, who was killed on her base at Fort Hood in April.

“Trust me when I say Vanessa has talked to me. Her smile is out of this world, trust me,” said Lupe Guillén, the late soldier’s sister, at the beginning of Friday’s service. “She’s very happy where she is next to God, next to the Virgin Mary. She’s very happy, and I want to thank her for giving me the strength, because without her, I don’t know if I would be standing today here.”

“Today, we’re here to honor, remember, respect Vanessa Guillén and her life, her beautiful soul, her beautiful face,” she continued.

Lupe Guillén bowed her head in grief as she rode with the carriage carrying her sister's remains around the Cesar Chavez High School soccer field.
Lupe Guillén bowed her head in grief as she rode with the carriage carrying her sister's remains around the Cesar Chavez High School soccer field.
Screenshot

Guillén’s casket was driven to the school auditorium by a horse-drawn carriage — the same one that carried George Floyd to his memorial service back in June. Prior to the service, the carriage made multiple laps around the school’s soccer field, in recognition of Guillén’s days as a soccer player during her high school years.

Guillén was reported missing on April 23, and her remains were discovered over a month later on June 30, approximately 30 miles away from Fort Hood by the Leon River near Killeen, TX.

On July 2, federal prosecutors charged Fort Hood soldier Aaron Robinson with Guillén’s murder, alleging that he killed Guillén on April 22 with a hammer before his girlfriend, Cecily Aguilar, helped him dispose of her body. The day before charges were formally filed, Robinson committed suicide before the authorities were able to apprehend him.

Aguilar confessed to investigators that she helped Robinson dismember Guillén’s body and bury her remains. She later pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to tamper with evidence, and faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Guillén told her family that she had been sexually harassed during her time at Fort Hood, but did not file a formal complaint with her superiors because she didn’t believe anything would come of it. According to the Houston Chronicle , Guillén told a friend that a soldier named Aaron R. had walked in on her while she was showering, and told her mother that a sergeant had been harassing her as well.

I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

Natalie Khawam, the Guillén family’s attorney, believes that the harassment Guillén faced was connected to her murder. After Guillén’s family met with President Trump on July 30, Trump said that the FBI and the U.S. Justice Department were currently aiding Fort Hood officials in an investigation of the harassment Guillén described before her death.

An Army soldier paid her respects to Vanessa Guillén before Friday's public memorial service.
An Army soldier paid her respects to Vanessa Guillén before Friday's public memorial service.
Screenshot

In the wake of Guillén’s killing, #IAmVanessaGuillén went viral as military members used the hashtag to publicly share their experiences with sexual assault and harassment with the public. A recently proposed piece of legislation named after Guillén, which has been co-sponsored by Democratic U.S. Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia of Houston, would create a system through which members of the military could report incidents of sexual assault outside of their immediate chain of command to a third party.

On Saturday, Guillén’s family will have a private funeral service, after which Guillén’s remains will be buried at the Forest Park Lawndale Funeral home. Friday's public memorial is being streamed live online at ABC13.com

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.

 

Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.