Trump says he will contribute to funeral of murdered soldier

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump met Thursday with the family of a soldier who investigators say was killed at the Army base where he was assigned in Texas, a story he considered “terrible” and offered to contribute money to the funeral expenses.

The family of specialist Vanessa Guillen, whose remains were found on July 2 after she disappeared from Fort Hood in April, met with dozens of supporters before interviewing Trump and called for justice and changes in the way the armed forces address cases of sexual abuse and harassment.

“It is an incredible story. It is a terrible story, ”the president told the family in the Oval Office. “So we are going to investigate with great force. We have already started, as you know, and we will get to the bottom of the matter. Maybe things can come out that help other people in a situation like Vanessa. We will be in constant communication with you. “

Guillen’s family has said that she was sexually harassed by the soldier suspected of murdering her, but the Army says there is no evidence to support that claim. The Army has said that Guillen may have been harassed by others at the base, but not of a sexual nature. Army Secretary Ryan D. McCarthy ordered July 10 to investigate the command environment at Fort Hood.

“The truth will come out whether they like it or not,” Lupe Guillen, Vanessa Guillen’s younger sister, said before the meeting with the president.

Lupe Guillen said family members were disappointed to hear nothing from Texas Governor Greg Abbot about his sister’s case and were ready to take her story directly to the White House.

John Wittman, a spokesman for Abbott, said the Guillen family has not contacted the governor’s office but he is willing to help. He noted that the governor’s office examines whether Texas has any authority over the death of an element of the military. He also noted that the state attorney general’s office is looking at whether the family might be eligible for assistance from the crime victims’ compensation fund.

“Governor Abbot is heartbroken for the Guillen family and he and the First Lady have them in their prayers,” Wittman said in a text message.

Investigators have not revealed a motive for Guillen’s death. They said in a complaint that the victim was beaten to death with a club in the arms depot at the Army base near the city of Killeen. Specialist soldier Aaron Robinson, 20, of Fort Hood, is suspected of murdering and butchering his colleague.

Robinson committed suicide after being confronted by police on July 1. A suspicious civilian, Cecily Aguilar, 22, is detained on three counts of criminal association for destroying evidence for helping Robinson hide Guillen’s remains and attempt to flee.


Acacia Coronado reported from Austin, Texas.