missing soldier

Missing Brockton Soldier's Body Believed to Be Found in Texas

"Our worst nightmare has happened," an attorney representing the Fernandes family said. "We are sickened by this tragedy that has happened one too many times."

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The body of Sgt. Elder Fernandes, a Fort Hood soldier who grew up in Brockton, Massachusetts, was found about 30 miles from the Army base in Texas where he was stationed, according to a family attorney.

The 23-year-old had been missing for more than a week.

Police in Temple, Texas, were called after 5:30 p.m. Tuesday about a body seen near the railroad tracks. When officials arrived, they determined the man was dead.

Police found Fernandes' driver's license in a backpack on the scene, according to Natalie Khawam, an attorney who is representing the Fernandes family. Forensic confirmation is pending.

Khawam said Army police told family members about the discovery late Tuesday night. She said the body was found hanging in a tree and appeared to have been there for several days.

Family members told police he went missing and was last seen or heard from Monday, Aug. 17, when his staff sergeant dropped him off at his home in Killeen, Texas.

After more than a week of searching, the body of a missing soldier from Massachusetts has been found in Texas.

"Our worst nightmare has happened," Khawam said in a statement. "One of our own, Sergeant Elder Fernandes was found dead. We are sickened by this tragedy that has happened one too many times. We are heartbroken for Elder Fernandes’ family."

Fernandes is the third soldier from Fort Hood to go missing in the past year, and at least four have died in the past several months. He was recently transferred to a different unit because he was the victim of "abusive sexual contact," according to Army officials.

Khawam is calling for a congressional investigation on behalf of the family. She held a news conference Wednesday with family members of Vanessa Guillén, in which they claimed that sexual harassment was rampant at Fort Hood, and that Guillén and Fernandes were killed because they spoke out it.

"They signed up to serve their country. They're not dying from terrorism or ISIS, they're dying from sexual harassment when they report it," Khawam said.

Police said Wednesday there's no indication of foul play, while the military said their investigation is in its early stages. An autopsy has been ordered.

The death investigation is being led by Temple police while working with Fort Hood and the Killeen Police Department Criminal Investigations Divisions.

The family of a missing Brockton soldier is calling for a congressional investigation into Fort Hood.

Members of Massachusetts' congressional delegation called for an independent probe into Fernandes' death, and the office of Brockton's congressman, Rep. Stephen Lynch, said he was traveling to Fort Hood Wednesday.

"The death of Sergeant Elder Fernandes, USA, is a devastating loss for his family and loved ones. The circumstances of yet another soldier’s death at Fort Hood raises important questions that must be answered," Lynch said in a statement, adding that the Department of Defense has agreed to let the soldier's family accompany him in briefings.

Sen. Ed Markey called Fernandes a patriot whose country failed him when he needed support, and who was failed by the Army as well.

"The Fernandes family deserves answers, and Sergeant Fernandes deserves justice. My prayers are with him and his family," Markey said in a statement.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren released a statement on the death of Fernandes saying she was "heartsick" for his family and the city of Brockton and that she was working with the state's congressional delegation "to demand a full, transparent investigation into this tragedy and the conditions at Fort Hood."

Khawam said she'd spoken with the congressional delegation

Fernandes was a 2015 graduate of Brockton High School. Superintendent Michael Thomas issued a statement saying the "entire Brockton Public Schools community is deeply saddened" by Fernandes' passing.

"Our hearts are with Sergeant Fernandes' loved ones as they cope with this unimaginable loss. Sergeant Fernandes and his family will always be a part of our Boxer family," Thomas said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

More Fort Hood Coverage

Sgt. Elder Fernandes, a 23-year-old Fort Hood soldier and Brockton native, went missing more than a week ago.

Missing Fort Hood Soldier a Victim of ‘Abusive Sexual Contact,' Army Says

US Army Seeks Soldier From Mass. Missing in Texas

NBC/The Associated Press
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