Fort Hood Army Sgt. Elder Fernandes Found Deceased in Temple, Texas; Death Ruled Suicide by Dallas Medical Examiner (August 25, 2020)

Sgt. Elder Fernandes, U.S. Army

Death of a Fort Hood Soldier: Sgt Elder Fernandes (August 26, 2020):

Sgt. Elder Fernandes, 23, whose home of record is listed as Brockton, Mass., was found [deceased] near Lake Polk in Temple. He entered the Army in September 2016 as a chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear specialist and has been assigned to the 553rd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion (CSSB), 1st Sustainment Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division since April 2019. Fernandes’ awards and decorations include the Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and Army Service Ribbon.

Fernandes was last seen in Killeen on Aug 17. When he was reported absent on Aug. 18, Soldiers from his unit initiated a thorough search for him, both on and off post while cooperating with the Killeen Police Department and U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID) in an attempt to find him. The unit distributed his photograph, searched motorpools, parking lots, barracks, and headquarters buildings. Members of his unit visited local hotels and hospitals throughout Central Texas trying to find him as they expanded their search efforts.

The unit is cooperating with local authorities from the cities of Killeen and Temple as this incident remains under investigation. The Division will continue to support the Fernandes Family during this difficult time and requests everyone respects their privacy during this time of grief.

Senators Markey and Warren and Rep. Lynch Call for Review of Army Fort Hood to Include Case of Sergeant Elder Fernandes (September 4, 2020):

Massachusetts lawmakers write “evidence suggests that the Army failed to give him the proper support and care that he needed while serving at Fort Hood” Massachusetts (September 4, 2020) – U.S. Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Congressman Stephen F. Lynch (MA-01) today called on the independent review panel investigating the command climate and culture at U.S. Army Base Fort Hood, Texas to include the case of Army Sergeant Elder Fernandes in its review of the base. Sergeant Fernandes, a 23 year-old native of Brockton, Massachusetts who was assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, was found dead on August 25 after having gone missing on August 17. Shortly after he was reported missing, public reports revealed that in May of this year Sergeant Fernandes had reported a sexual assault allegation against a member of his chain of command and also became the target of bullying, hazing, and harassment. The Fort Hood independent review panel was created before Sgt. Fernandes’s disappearance, so the Massachusetts lawmakers are asking the panel to ensure it includes his case in the scope of their review and report. 

In their letter, the lawmakers urged the Fort Hood panel to review the following issues: 

  • The circumstances surrounding Sergeant Fernandes’s treatment by commanding officers and peers while serving at Fort Hood, including allegations of sexual assault, bullying, hazing, or harassment; 
  • The adequacy of the investigation conducted by the Army of his reported sexual assault;
  • The circumstances surrounding his disappearance and death, including the Army’s coordination with local and state law enforcement in the search for him after he was reported missing, and;
  • The adequacy of Army’s coordination with and treatment of Sergeant Fernandes’s family, including but not limited to information-sharing during the search for Sergeant Fernandes and in the period after his body was discovered, and the release of his medical, service, and treatment records thereafter.

“Although an Army-led investigation remains ongoing into the cause and circumstances of Sergeant Fernandes’s death, the evidence suggests that the Army failed to give him the proper support and care that he needed while serving at Fort Hood,” write the lawmakers in the their letter. “As you conduct your independent, comprehensive review of Fort Hood, we urge you to consider the facts of Sergeant Fernandes’s case. We will do everything we can to ensure that Sergeant Fernandes receives the justice he deserves, that Army leaders are held accountable, and to prevent harm to any other soldiers at Fort Hood. We stand by, ready to assist in your review in any way possible, and we look forward to seeing your final report.” 

A copy of the letter can be found HERE

Senators Warren and Markey along with Senator John Cornyn (R-Tex.) today sent a bipartisan request to Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Ok.) and Ranking Member Jack Reed (D-R.I.) asking that the Committee hold a public hearing to probe the findings and recommendations of the independent review panel on the command climate and culture at U.S. Army Base Fort Hood, Texas.

In the News:


Missing Fort Hood soldier part of open ‘abuse sexual contact’ investigation
Mother of missing Fort Hood soldier pleads for the public’s help to find him
Family of Sgt. Elder Fernandes met with Fort Hood officials Sunday
Family, friends of missing Fort Hood soldier Elder Fernandes post flyers and search around Killeen
Family has questions | The search for Fort Hood solder Elder Fernandes continues
Fort Hood Commander Maj. Gen. Scott Efflandt speaks on missing soldier Elder Fernandes
Fort Hood confirms death of Sgt. Elder Fernandes, says sexual assault allegations were ‘unsubstantiated’
Body Believed To Be Missing Fort Hood Soldier Elder Fernandes Found In Texas
Live: Fort Hood holds press conference on late Sgt. Elder Fernandes
Vigil held for Fort Hood soldier Elder Fernandes
Lynch: ‘Cancer or sickness’ at Fort Hood after local soldier’s death
Death of Sgt. Elder Fernandes shines spotlight on military suicide
Fort Hood soldier’s family doesn’t believe what Army told them about death of Sgt. Elder Fernandes (September 1, 2020)
Brockton family of Fort Hood soldier demands answers after he was found dead off base
Family Demands Justice After Fort Hood Soldier Found Dead
Family, Lawmakers Call For Investigation Into Death Of Fort Hood Soldier
Mother Of Soldier Who Died At Fort Hood Speaks Out About Loss

Related Links:
Remembering Sgt. Elder Fernandes | U.S. Army Fort Hood
Another Fort Hood soldier goes missing, this time ‘of his own accord’
Another Fort Hood soldier, Elder Fernandes, is missing. The Army asks for help.
Brockton Soldier Elder Fernandes, Who Reported Sexual Abuse, Is Missing From Fort Hood
Missing Fort Hood soldier was victim in ‘abusive sexual contact’ investigation, Army says
Missing Fort Hood soldier part of open ‘abuse sexual contact’ investigation
Fort Hood Soldier Gone Missing After Reporting Sexual Abuse
Missing Fort Hood soldier reported sexual abuse months before disappearance, Army official says
A 23-year-old Fort Hood soldier who has been missing for a week had reported sexual abuse before his disappearance
Fort Hood Soldier Reported Being Sexually Abused Before Vanishing 1 Week Ago
Army, police searching for missing Fort Hood soldier Elder Fernandes
Army Asks for Help in Search for Another Missing Ft. Hood Soldier
Fort Hood: Foul play not suspected in Fernandes disappearance
No foul play suspected in case of missing Fort Hood soldier
Family of Sgt. Elder Fernandes meets with Fort Hood officials Sunday
Search party combs Killeen neighborhood for missing soldier
Elder Fernandes: Body found in search for missing soldier
Attorney: Missing Fort Hood soldier’s body found in Texas
Army confirms that a missing Fort Hood soldier has been found dead
Missing Brockton soldier who disappeared from Fort Hood found dead
Body Of Missing Fort Hood Soldier Elder Fernandes Found A Week After Disappearance
The Body Of Missing Fort Hood Soldier Elder Fernandes Was Found Hanging From A Tree
Fort Hood soldier, 23, found hanged was ‘humiliated’ after reporting he was sexually assaulted by male superior, which led him to be bullied, harassed, and hazed when news spread around the base, his family’s lawyer says
Fort Hood Sgt. Elder Fernandes ‘humiliated’ after reporting sexual abuse, says family’s lawyer
Family of Fort Hood soldier demands answers after body found in Texas, attorney says
Body of missing Fort Hood soldier Elder Fernandes given plane-side honors in Boston
Body of Brockton native, Fort Hood soldier Sgt. Elder Fernandes returns home
Body of Sgt. Elder Fernandes, 23-year-old Brockton native found near Fort Hood, returns to Massachusetts
Funeral held for Brockton soldier who went missing from Fort Hood
Fort Hood soldier believed dead was happy until recently, family says
Family of Fort Hood Soldier Found Dead Demands Congress Investigate
Fort Hood leaders have ‘blood on their hands’ in death of missing soldier, family attorney says
Missing Fort Hood Soldier Elder Fernandes Reportedly Died by Suicide
Fort Hood soldier Elder Fernandes died by suicide, medical examiner finds
Fort Hood Soldier Elder Fernandes Died From Suicide, Autopsy Reportedly Says
Marchers Demand Answers in Death of Brockton Soldier Who Reported Sexual Assault
‘This is a very bad situation’: Mass. lawmakers paint grim picture of Fort Hood, after death of Sgt. Elder Fernandes
Fort Hood soldier’s family claims Army never investigated his computers; mystery now left behind in devices
Soldier’s family doubts what Army says about his death; Fort Hood’s commander removed from position
Fort Hood soldier was still alive days after he disappeared, raising possibility that suicide could have been prevented, reports show
Family of Fort Hood sergeant questions Army’s effort to find him before he died
Fort Hood: What we know about 12 soldiers missing, slain or killed in accidents since January
Senators Markey and Warren and Rep. Lynch Call for Review of Army Fort Hood to Include Case of Sergeant Elder Fernandes

Stars and Stripes: Why is Fort Hood the Army’s Most Crime-Ridden Post? (August 21, 2020)


by Rose Thayer

Keeping Track

“In the last five years, 165 soldiers assigned to Fort Hood have died, according to the Fort Hood Public Affairs Office, which regularly released information on soldiers’ death until a 2018 decision to stop the practice. The post was an outlier in this level of transparency.

In those years, seven soldiers died by homicide, while six died in a combat zone. The deaths of 70 soldiers were ruled suicides, and on- and off-base accidents resulted in the deaths of 60 soldiers.”

(Army Soldiers at Fort Hood in Texas Are Dying at Alarming Rates Stateside (January 1, 2016 to Present) *we missed close to 25 deaths because Fort Hood stopped issuing press releases for the death of soldiers in early 2018)

Asking for a Solution

Air Force veteran Jennifer Norris believes Fort Hood’s current situation has been years in the making.

For the past decade, Norris, a trained social worker with a master’s degree in public policy, has been tracking crimes committed by and against service members and advocating for reform. She posts her research on her website, Military Justice for All.

She first focused her research on several large military bases, but after noticing a trend of Fort Hood deaths, Norris narrowed her efforts to the Texas post.

‘I didn’t set up to go after Fort Hood at all. It’s a compilation of systematic issues,’ she said.

At the end of 2017, Norris used her own money to travel from her home in Maine to Washington to meet with lawmakers. By the time she got home, Norris said she thought everyone had moved on without intending to address the problems.

‘The other bases are nothing like Fort Hood is right now,’ she said. ‘I think the anomaly with Fort Hood is that its isolated and that it’s such an economic powerhouse in the community that it’s in everybody’s best interest to protect it so they can protect themselves.’”

(Washington D.C. Veteran’s Presentation on the Current Status of the Armed Forces at Fort Hood in Texas (December 12, 2017))

Read more here: Why is Fort Hood the Army’s most crime-ridden post?

Related Links:
Fort Hood Army Staff Sgt. Paul Norris Fatally Shot Spc. Kamisha Block in Murder-Suicide in Iraq; Family Calls for Congressional Hearings & Independent Investigations (August 16, 2007)
Air Force TSgt. Jennifer Norris Testified Before the House Armed Services Committee in Washington DC (January 23, 2013)
Gillibrand: The Military Justice Improvement Act Would Give Service Members a Justice System That Works (July 1, 2019)
Rep. Seth Moulton Introduces The Brandon Act to Change DoD Mental Health Policy, Pay Tribute to Fallen Navy Sailor Brandon Caserta (June 25, 2020)
Open Letter to House of Representatives in Support of an Independent Investigation of the Murder of Vanessa Guillen at Fort Hood (July 7, 2020)
Austin American-Statesman: Vanessa Guillen’s Death Shines Light on More Tragedies at Fort Hood (July 28, 2020) Army Street Gang Activity Is Increasing, Internal Report Shows (August 17, 2020)

‘Gangs and the Military: Gangsters, Bikers, and Terrorists with Military Training’ by Carter F. Smith (2017)

An internal report, obtained by through a Freedom of Information Act request, shows that gang members were tied to dozens of Army felony law enforcement reports and more than 100 criminal investigations in fiscal 2018, the latest year for which data is available. While these reports and investigations make up less than 1% of all Army law enforcement incidents, the new report shows that the little-discussed problem of military gang activity continues to be a headache for base commanders and other service leaders.”

Read more: Army Street Gang Activity is Increasing, Internal Report Report Shows (, August 17, 2020)

Related Links:
FY2018 Army Crime Report
Gangs in the Military: Armed and Dangerous Forces (December 23, 2010)
‘Gangs and the Military: Gangsters, Bikers, and Terrorists with Military Training’ by Carter F. Smith Released (September 15, 2017)