Documentary about murdered Army specialist Vanessa Guillen debuts on Netflix

A documentary following the life and death of 20-year-old Army specialist Vanessa Guillen debuted on Netflix Thursday.

The 96-minute documentary “I am Vanessa Guillen” highlights Guillen’s murder following sexual harassment allegations she made against a fellow soldier at Fort Hood.

That soldier was assumed to be the man who killed her, Army Specialist Aaron Robinson, but an Army investigation later revealed that Guillen was sexually harassed by a supervisor.

According to a report from ABC News, the investigation found that Guillen had been sexually harassed on two occasions by one of her supervisors and that they had “created an intimidating, hostile environment.”

However, the investigation found that Robinson did sexually harass a different female specialist at Fort Hood before he fatally shot himself in Killeen on June 29 when he was confronted by Killeen Police officers. Robinson was wanted in connection with a criminal investigation regarding Guillen’s disappearance.

Robinson’s girlfriend, Cecily Ann Aguilar, was also wanted in connection with Guillen’s disappearance. According to a criminal complaint, the pair shared an off-post residence together.

A gruesome affidavit from the FBI states that Robinson and Aguilar were responsible for Guillen’s murder.

According to the affidavit, Aguilar said Robinson struck Guillen in the head with a hammer multiple times on April 22 inside an arms room at Fort Hood, killing her. Robinson then placed Guillen’s body inside a large “tough box” with wheels, which two witnesses at Fort Hood say they saw Robinson load into his vehicle the same day.

Aguilar told investigators that Robinson took her out to a site near the Leon River on the evening of April 22 and showed her a box with wheels that contained the body of a woman who Aguilar identified as Guillen. According to the affidavit, Robinson and Aguilar proceeded to dismember the body using a “hatchet or ax” and a “machete type knife” to remove Guillen’s limbs and head.

The pair then attempted to burn the body but “the body would not burn completely” so they placed the remains in three separate holes and covered them up, the affidavit states.

Contractors working on a fence near the Leon River in Belton discovered what appeared to be human remains on June 30. The Army confirmed the remains were Guillen on July 3.

Aguilar has been indicted on 11 counts related to Guillen’s death and her trial date is set for Jan. 23, 2023. She faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for her suspected role in the murder.

In the wake of the tragedy, Guillen’s family pushed for legislation that would provide unbiased investigations into harassment allegations in the military.

The “I Am Vanessa Guillen Act” went into effect Jan. 1, 2022. It states that the decision to prosecute sexual assault and sexual harassment claims made by military members will be made outside the service member’s chain of command. It also offers protection against retaliation.

“At the core, this is a story about overcoming the greatest odds imaginable in the name of family, love and justice. This is David vs. Goliath on steroids,” said documentary director Christy Wegener.

“Taking on the U.S. military, one of the largest, most powerful institutions in America is no easy feat. In making the film, it was incredible to witness a family, in the most tragic moment of their lives, put their grief aside, step out into the public arena and fight for the greater good,” said Wegener.

As many as 28 soldiers stationed at Fort Hood died in 2020. Fort Hood officials have said the 28 deaths include five homicides in addition to accidents, suicides, deaths related to illness, cases still under investigation and one combat-related death.

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