A US Army sergeant who has been missing since Monday from Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas grew up in Brockton, and his family is wracked with worry for him, according to the Army and the man’s aunt.
Elder N. Fernandes, 23, was last seen by members of his unit at a Killeen home on Monday and did not report to work on Tuesday, the US Army Criminal Investigation Command said in a statement Friday asking for the public’s help to find Fernandes.
His vehicle was found in his unit’s parking lot at Fort Hood, but fellow soldiers indicated to investigators that “Fernandes may have left Fort Hood on his own accord,” according to the Army.
Soldiers from Fort Hood, special agents from the Criminal Investigation Command, Killeen police, and other law enforcement agencies are searching for Fernandes, the Army said.
Fernandes is a chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear specialist with the 1st Cavalry Division Sustainment Brigade, according to the Army.
His aunt, Isabel Fernandes, said Elder Fernandes lived in Cape Verde until he was 8 or 9, when his family immigrated to the US and settled in Brockton, where he lived until joining the Army.
His mother and brother have traveled to Texas to join the search, and his family in Massachusetts is frightened, she said.
“The entire family’s trying to find out where he is,” Isabel Fernandes said in a phone interview Friday night. “We all love him, we miss him, and we need him home with us.”
Isabel Fernandes said a superior officer had contacted the family on Aug. 14 and told them that her nephew had not reported to work that day. The family called him, and he said he was hospitalized and would be discharged on Monday, she said.
On Monday, Elder Fernandes was discharged and his staff sergeant said he dropped off Fernandes at his former residence, but his former roommate at that address said he had not seen him, according to Isabel Fernandes.
He is the third soldier to go missing from Fort Hood in the past year. Two soldiers from the base have been found dead this summer.
State Representative Liz Miranda said on Twitter that Fernandez’s car had been found with his belongings inside and that he had recently signed a lease but hadn’t picked up the keys to his new apartment.
“We are very concerned about the welfare of this Soldier and first and foremost we want to ensure he is okay,” Christopher Grey, a spokesman for the Criminal Investigation Command, said in the Army’s statement. “If someone out there has any information, regardless of how trivial you may think it is, we are asking you to contact us immediately.”
The Army asks anyone with information to contact the Fort Hood Criminal Investigation Command at 254-287-2722, the Fort Hood Military Police at 254-287-4001, or their local police department. People can also submit information anonymously at www.cid.army.mil/report-a-crime.html.
Fernandes' disappearance comes a year after the disappearance of Pfc. Gregory Morales, 24, a Fort Hood soldier who was reported missing on Aug. 20, 2019. His remains were found June 21 in a field in Killeen, near Fort Hood. Killeen police and Army officials are still investigating his death and foul play is suspected.
A week later, on July 1, Army officials found more human remains that were subsequently identified as those of 20-year-old Vanessa Guillén. She had been missing since April 22. Her remains were found near the Leon River in Bell County, about 20 miles east of Fort Hood.
Guillen was bludgeoned to death by a fellow soldier who later killed himself after being confronted by police the day Guillén’s remains were found, officials said. A 22-year-old, civilian woman is charged with helping that soldier dispose of Guillen’s body and is awaiting federal trial.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.