Slain soldier Vanessa Guillen was honored Wednesday across her hometown of Houston on what would have been her 21st birthday. The Fort Hood enlistee was killed and dismembered in April by a fellow service member at the massive base, authorities said.
Guillen's family visited Cesar Chavez High school, where she graduated in 2018. “It feels weird, but at the same time I feel happy because I remember the memories I had with her,” said her sister, Yovanna Guillen.
The Houston Independent School District declared Wednesday "Vanessa Guillen Day" and campuses across Texas' biggest city memorialized Guillen, who was posthumously promoted to specialist after her death.
“It means a lot because you know there’s so many people that care. They were able to give her a special day just for her on her birthday,” Yovanna said.
People stopped to pay their respects at a large mural of Guillen on Interstate 45.
“This is not fair. She was young and I’m just finding out today it was her 21st birthday. She didn’t get to have that and it’s really hard,” said Betty Gutierrez.
Alondra Rosales, who was in Guilllen's graduating class, also turned 21 this month. She brought birthday balloons given to her by her sisters, to mark the mural site.
"I wanted to give them to her,” Rosales said.
A homily was scheduled for Wednesday evening at the funeral home where Guillen was eulogized.
Two months after Guillen was reported missing in April, her dismembered and burned remains were found June 30 near a lake off the base. Army Specialist Aaron Robinson, 20, has been identified by authorities as her killer. He shot himself to death as police approached him after the discovery of Guillen's body parts.
There are currently at least five separate investigations underway into the circumstances surrounding Guillen's death, as well into claims she made to her family about being sexually harassed on base.