'Pleading For Justice,' A Year After Vanessa Guillen's Death, Family Demands Legislation

One year has passed since Army specialist Vanessa Guillen was last seen alive at the Fort Hood Army base in Texas.

Video Transcript

BROOKE KATZ: One year ago today, Army Specialist Vanessa Guillen disappeared at Fort Hood, her remains found months later near the post. Today, Guillen's family continues to push for change with the US military to keep something like this from ever happening again. New here at 4:30, our Ken Molestina spoke to Guillen's family about that effort. Ken, what did they tell you?

KEN MOLESTINA: I'll tell you what, Brooke. I'm chatting with Vanessa Guillen's sister and their family attorney. You kind of get the sense that they are nowhere near healing-- not even close-- and their mourning is no easier today than it was a year ago. But they're staying strong, hoping that a piece of federal legislation in Vanessa Guillen's name is passed.

MAYRA GUILLEN: That same question for 365 days now of why they did that to Vanessa. Who fully participated in the murder-- those that kept quiet are just as guilty.

KEN MOLESTINA: I spoke with Vanessa's sister Mayra and the family lawyer, Natalie Khawam, via Zoom from Washington DC where they gathered on the one year anniversary of Vanessa's disappearance to push the I Am Vanessa Guillen Bill. It's a piece of legislation that would make it easier for military members to report sexual abuse and harassment without retaliation.

NATALIE KHAWAM: And we agree that we need to support, we need to pass the I Am Vanessa Guillen legislation. That's what I want to hear from the Secretary of Defense, is we support the I Am Vanessa Guillen bill. This is going to be fixed. This is a holistic approach on dealing with sexual harassment and sexual assault in the military.

KEN MOLESTINA: It was back on April 22nd of 2020 that Guillen was last seen outside of her barracks at Fort Hood. Her search garnered the attention of the nation, but it wasn't until two months later that partial remains identified as hers were found near a river outside of Fort Hood. An investigation found fellow soldier Aaron Robinson killed her on post and he recruited his girlfriend, Cecily Aguilar, to help dismember and dispose of the body. Robinson killed himself the day after the remains were found. Aguilar has been charged for her alleged role in the murder. Guillen was said to be a victim of sexual harassment within her ranks.

NATALIE KHAWAM: Just because she died doesn't mean that this is over. Her death will not be in vain. This plight well not go away until we get justice for Vanessa, until we get this legislation passed.

KEN MOLESTINA: Just this week, a gate outside of Fort Hood was dedicated in her name, but her family says all of that is not enough to make sure another soldier isn't victimized by those in their own ranks.

MAYRA GUILLEN: We're here today pleading for justice and for the legislation to pass.

KEN MOLESTINA: Well, the I Am Vanessa Guillen bill is set to have bipartisan support from members in Congress. The family tells me the findings of the full investigation into Guillen's death have been pushed back again, Brooke. We're expecting it sometime in the summer they say.

BROOKE KATZ: I'm sure that's frustrating for them, Ken. Thank you so much.