Fort Hood Officials Say Vanessa Guillén Died 'in the Line of Duty'

 Lupe Guillen, sister of 20-year-old murder victim U.S. Army Private First Class Vanessa Guillen
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The death of 20-year-old Vanessa Guillén, the U.S. Army specialist suspected to have been brutally killed by another soldier, died "in the line of duty" Fort Hood officials told her family Tuesday. This determination grants Guillén's family entitlement to various military benefits that can assist the family with expenses, a funeral with full military honors, life insurance, and final pay and allowances, Fort Hood officials wrote in a statement.

"The III Corps leadership remains in contact with the Guillén family to keep them informed of the additional actions being taken at Fort Hood, and what policies are being revised to ensure Army culture continues to put people first and honors Vanessa’s life," officials wrote in a release.

Guillén disappeared April 22 after she was last seen around 11:30 a.m. in the parking lot of her army base in Fort Hood, according to the US Army Criminal Investigation Command.

After a two-month-long search, her body was discovered June 30 dismembered and burned in a shallow grave, the family's attorney, Natalie Khawam, told reporters. She was bludgeoned to death with a hammer and her body was taken from the military base by her alleged killer, Khawam said according to CNN.

The main suspect in her disappearance, a fellow soldier 20-year-old Aaron Robinson, shot himself to death in July after police confronted him in Killeen, according to reports. Guillén had apparently discussed with her family a plan to file a harassment complaint against an Army sergeant who she claimed would follow her on runs, Guillén's family said according to the Army Times.

Last month, a group of U.S. House lawmakers introduced a bipartisan bill named, "I Am Vanessa Guillén Act" in memory of the soldier, CNN reported. The act would change the way the military addresses sexual harassment and assault in its ranks –– make sexual harassment a crime within the Uniform Code of Military Justice and would require an independent prosecutor's determination as to whether the case moves forward.

Asked for comment, Guillén's lawyer wrote in a statement to Inside Edition Digital, "[The Army] said Vanessa followed all her orders and did not abandon or deviate from her job responsibilities or bring on any risks to cause her death."

She added that additional witness statements provided new facts to the case, including one detail that Vanessa’s phone was on and rang at 8pm after she was killed.

"That’s an important detail because that means either someone found her phone and turned it on [...] This information will provide us more clues about her murder," Khawam wrote.

"We appreciate all the information we can get, and hope we learn the true story about Vanessa’s murder, so this never happens again."

 
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