KILLEEN, Texas — Federal prosecutors on Wednesday filed additional charges against the woman they allege helped her soldier boyfriend get rid of the body of slain Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillen last year.
The 11-count superseding indictment, like the one before it, charges Cecily Ann Aguilar, 23, of Killeen, with two counts of tampering with evidence and one count of conspiracy to tamper.
The updated charges include four counts of making false statements to investigators, three counts of being an accessory after the fact and a single charge of destruction, alteration or falsification of records in a federal investigation, court records show. As of Friday, Aguilar was being held in the McClellan County Jail to await her federal trial.
Aguilar was the civilian girlfriend of U.S. Army Spc. Aaron David Robinson, who is suspected of the April 22, 2020, bludgeoning death of Guillen, with whom he was stationed at Fort Hood. Authorities allege that Aguilar helped Robinson dismember and attempt to burn Guillen’s body after the homicide.
Guillen’s concrete-encased remains were found June 30, 2020, in multiple shallow graves along the Leon River in Belton, located about 30 miles from the base.
Robinson, 20, fatally shot himself on a Killeen street that same night as investigators moved in to arrest him.
A grisly crime and burial
The criminal case against Robinson was built, in part, through Aguilar’s own words. According to an affidavit in the case, co-workers told investigators that Guillen was last seen alive heading from the arms room where she was working to the one in which Robinson was assigned.
Robinson claimed that he and Guillen verified the serial numbers of some equipment she was repairing before she left to drop off paperwork at the motor pool. Witnesses in the motor pool, who were waiting for the documents, said she never arrived.
Aguilar initially backed Robinson’s claims that he’d gone home after work and stayed there until the next morning. Witnesses on the base came forward, however, to say they saw Robinson on the installation the night of April 22, lugging a large, heavy “tuff box” into his vehicle.
Burned pieces of the heavy-duty plastic box were later found where Guillen’s remains were buried.
Robinson’s alibi was also called into question by several lengthy phone calls he made to Aguilar the night of the homicide and into the early morning hours of April 23, when she claimed they were together at home, court documents allege.
After multiple rounds of questioning — and the discovery of Guillen’s remains — Aguilar told investigators Robinson had confessed to killing a female soldier by striking her multiple times with a hammer. The killing allegedly took place inside the arms room where Robinson worked.
“Aguilar advised the female soldier never made it out of the Army alive (referring to Fort Hood),” the affidavit states. “SPC Robinson then placed her in a box and moved the box to a location near the Leon River in Belton.”
He then picked Aguilar up at the gas station where she worked and took her to the site near the river.
“A box with wheels and handles was already at this site,” an investigator wrote. “Spc. Robinson walked Aguilar over to the woods and opened up the box for Aguilar, and she saw a dead female inside the box.
“Aguilar, on a later date, identified the dead female as Vanessa Guillen.”
Read the entire federal affidavit below. Warning: The document contains disturbing details of a violent crime.
The couple used a machete and a hatchet to cut up Guillen’s body. When attempts to burn her remains failed, they dug three holes and buried her.
The couple left the site but, unsatisfied, returned on April 26. They arrived prepared with gloves, hairnets and a bag of concrete Aguilar said she’d bought from someone using Facebook Messenger.
“On that date, Spc. Robinson and Aguilar uncovered the remains of (Guillen), removed them and continued the process of breaking down the remains of the dead female,” the affidavit states. “The remains were then burned again, along with their gloves and hairnets. Spc. Robinson and Aguilar placed the remains back in the three holes with the concrete purchased earlier.”
When the couple returned home, they burned the clothes they were wearing, Aguilar told investigators.
Aguilar’s defense team has since argued that the confession was taken illegally and filed a motion in March asking for it to be thrown out. Last month, a judge denied the motion.
‘I am Vanessa Guillen’
Guillen’s brutal murder brought about nationwide protests and federal investigations of the command climate at Fort Hood, which has a reputation for violence and sexual assaults. Guillen’s family led the push for accountability, with her mother alleging that the 20-year-old had confided in her that she’d been sexually harassed by one of her superiors.
Army officials initially said there was no evidence that Guillen had been harassed, even as the slain soldier’s name became a rallying cry for the “I am Vanessa Guillen” movement. The campaign sought systemic change on behalf of female military members.
In April, more than a year after Guillen’s killing, Army officials finally admitted that Guillen had been sexually harassed at least twice in the year before her murder. Along with her mother, she had confided in fellow soldiers and friends, some of whom reported the allegations.
A total of 21 officers and noncommissioned officers from Fort Hood were disciplined following Guillen’s murder, including the unnamed superior officer who harassed her, according to The Associated Press. Those disciplined include eight senior commanders who were fired from their posts.
None have been criminally charged in the case. The AP pointed out, however, that in many cases, being relieved of a command or having letters of reprimand added to a personnel file can end a military career.
Read the entire 271-page report on Fort Hood’s response to Vanessa Guillen’s disappearance and murder below.
The 271-page report stated that Robinson was not one of the people who had harassed Guillen. It instead states that Robinson was accused of sexually harassing a different soldier.
“The investigation found no credible evidence to conclude that Spc. Robinson sexually harassed Guillen, or that they had any relationship outside of their work setting,” the news release said.
Guillen’s family and their attorney didn’t buy that.
“If you can’t say why he murdered her, you can’t say he didn’t sexually harass her,” attorney Natalie Khawam told the AP.
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