Family of Slain Fort Hood Soldier Gregory Wedel-Morales Hopes Autopsy Will Clear Him From Deserter List

The remains of Gregory Wedel-Morales were found as searchers looked for missing soldier Vanessa Guillen.

The family of slain Fort Hood Private Gregory Wedel-Morales says he can't be removed from the Army's deserter list, or buried with military honors, until his autopsy is completed. Wedel-Morales, 24, disappeared last year and was last seen driving his car in Killeen, Texas outside his base.

His remains were found June 19 by searchers looked for Spc. Vanessa Guillen, 20, a fellow soldier who went missing in April.

Her remains were found a few days later, and authorities say she was killed and dismembered by another soldier who killed himself as investigators sought him for questioning. Wedel-Morales' death has been ruled a homicide by officials, who say the two cases are not related.

Kim Wedel told the Army Times last week she has argued with Army officials since her son went missing about 10 months ago. They told her Wedel-Morales had gone AWOL, or absent without official leave, she said. He was scheduled to be discharged from military service just days before he vanished, she said.

Army and other investigators said at the time they had no proof of foul play, she said.

“The proof is he disappeared. He had no money and he’s not answering the phone. There’s something wrong,” Wedel said during a telephone interview. “I was kind of ignored.”

Her son's body was lightly buried in dirt, in a field, she said. How he died and when he died has not been released by military authorities.

“The Killeen Police Department can confirm that foul play is suspected,” Ofelia Miramontez, a spokeswoman for the department, said in an email to the Army Times. “Since the investigation is ongoing, we are not going to release any other information at this time.”

His military status cannot be changed until his autopsy determines when he died, said officials from 1st Cavalry Division, under which Morales served. Those results could take another month, the paper reported.

Meanwhile, his family says, his body can't be buried with military honors and relatives must pay those costs themselves.

“We’ve been told he’s a deserter unless the autopsy results come back and prove that he’s been dead since he disappeared,” Wedel said. “I don’t know if an autopsy can be that specific, but it would be pretty strange to assume he just disappeared for a few months and then was killed right outside the base.”

The private, who enlisted in 2015, was last seen on Aug. 19, 2019. His death is being investigated by the Killeen Police Department.