The remains of Sgt. Elder Fernandes were returned to Massachusetts Tuesday after he was found dead about 30 miles from Fort Hood in Texas, where he was stationed.
The 23-year-old soldier, who grew up in Brockton, was escorted by motorcade from Logan Airport to his family in Brockton. Fernandes was found hanging from a tree earlier this week after he had been missing for more than a week. Family members are demanding answers about his death and disappearance.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Army is launching an investigation of the command and the culture at Fort Hood following a series of incidents, including the death of Fernandes.
Maj. Gen. Scott Efflandt, the commander of the U.S. Army's Fort Hood, is being removed from his position and will no longer assume command of a division at Fort Bliss, the U.S. Army announced Tuesday. He will instead will remain at Fort Hood as the deputy commanding general.
There are several investigations underway at Fort Hood, which has been plagued by a series of incidents including reports of multiple suicides and the disappearance and death of another soldier as well.
Back home in Brockton, Massachusetts, the Fernandes family is grieving and waiting for answers. Loved ones honored the soldiers memory at a candlelight vigil Friday evening outside Brockton City Hall.
"He went to serve the country, and he is not with us anymore, for a bad reason, for something that shouldn't happen," said his uncle, John Sequeira.
Family members never imagined his military career would end in such a manner.
"Twenty-three years old," his aunt, Leonilde Fernandes Neves, said at the vigil. "He could have been somewhere else partying, but he focused himself on the studies."
Fernandes had been bullied and harassed after reporting he'd been sexually assaulted by a superior, according to his family. The military has said the claims were unsubstantiated and that there is no sign of foul play in this case.
Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., is calling for an independent investigation in the soldier's death, being called an apparent suicide.
"There are just circumstances and facts around the whole incident that really cause you to pause and ask if that is really what happened," Lynch said.
Lynch, who is calling for a wider probe of Fort Hood, said 10 soldiers have gone missing from the base over the past year, with five of the cases classified as unsolved homicides.
"There's something drastically wrong going on at Fort Hood right now," the congressman said.
The investigations comes too late for the Fernandes family.
"Whoever has their son, think twice to send them to the Army," Fernandes Neves said.
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Sgt. Elder Fernandes, a 23-year-old Fort Hood soldier and Brockton native, went missing more than a week ago.