Mourners gather in Houston to remember slain soldier

  • Lupe Guillen, the youngest sister of U.S. Army Specialist Vanessa Guillen rides on a horse draw carriage as they made a final lap around the Cesar Chavez High School track Friday, Aug. 14, 2020, in Houston. Guillen, who was last seen on April 22, was laid to rest nearly four months after she is said to have been killed by a fellow soldier at Fort Hood, a U.S. Army base in Texas. Mourners gathered at the high school where Guillen grew up playing soccer and dreaming of joining the military. (Steve Gonzales/Houston Chronicle via AP)

    Lupe Guillen, the youngest sister of U.S. Army Specialist Vanessa Guillen rides on a horse draw carriage as they made a final lap around the Cesar Chavez High School track Friday, Aug. 14, 2020, in Houston. Guillen, who was last seen on April 22, was laid to rest nearly four months after she is said to have been killed by a fellow soldier at Fort Hood, a U.S. Army base in Texas. Mourners gathered at the high school where Guillen grew up playing soccer and dreaming of joining the military. (Steve Gonzales/Houston Chronicle via AP) Associated Press

  • Alma Garcia embraces Juan Cruz, the boyfriend of Army Spc. Vanessa Guillen at her memorial service on Friday, Aug. 14, 2020, in Houston. Guillen, who was last seen on April 22, was laid to rest nearly four months after she is said to have been killed by a fellow soldier at Fort Hood, a U.S. Army base in Texas. Mourners gathered at Cesar Chavez High School where Guillen grew up playing soccer and dreaming of joining the military. (Marie D. De Jesus/Houston Chronicle via AP)

    Alma Garcia embraces Juan Cruz, the boyfriend of Army Spc. Vanessa Guillen at her memorial service on Friday, Aug. 14, 2020, in Houston. Guillen, who was last seen on April 22, was laid to rest nearly four months after she is said to have been killed by a fellow soldier at Fort Hood, a U.S. Army base in Texas. Mourners gathered at Cesar Chavez High School where Guillen grew up playing soccer and dreaming of joining the military. (Marie D. De Jesus/Houston Chronicle via AP) Associated Press

  • Matt Mouton and his son Mathew "MJ", 6, put finishing touches on a memorial he built in honor of U.S. Army Specialist Vanessa Guillen at Cesar Chavez High School Friday, Aug. 14, 2020, in Houston. Guillen, who was last seen on April 22, was laid to rest nearly four months after she is said to have been killed by a fellow soldier at Fort Hood, a U.S. Army base in Texas. (Steve Gonzales/Houston Chronicle via AP)

    Matt Mouton and his son Mathew "MJ", 6, put finishing touches on a memorial he built in honor of U.S. Army Specialist Vanessa Guillen at Cesar Chavez High School Friday, Aug. 14, 2020, in Houston. Guillen, who was last seen on April 22, was laid to rest nearly four months after she is said to have been killed by a fellow soldier at Fort Hood, a U.S. Army base in Texas. (Steve Gonzales/Houston Chronicle via AP) Associated Press

  • People stand on line to pay their respects to Army Spc. Vanessa Guillen at a memorial service in her honor on Friday, Aug. 14, 2020, in Houston. Guillen, who was last seen on April 22, was laid to rest nearly four months after she is said to have been killed by a fellow soldier at Fort Hood, a U.S. Army base in Texas. (Marie D. De Jesus/Houston Chronicle via AP)

    People stand on line to pay their respects to Army Spc. Vanessa Guillen at a memorial service in her honor on Friday, Aug. 14, 2020, in Houston. Guillen, who was last seen on April 22, was laid to rest nearly four months after she is said to have been killed by a fellow soldier at Fort Hood, a U.S. Army base in Texas. (Marie D. De Jesus/Houston Chronicle via AP) Associated Press

  • A woman holds a Mexican flag and a U.S flag, as she attends a memorial service in honor of Army Specialist Vanessa Guillen, at Cesar Chavez High School on Friday, Aug. 14, 2020, in Houston. Guillen, who was last seen on April 22, was laid to rest nearly four months after she is said to have been killed by a fellow soldier at Fort Hood, a U.S. Army base in Texas. (Marie D. De Jesús/Houston Chronicle via AP)

    A woman holds a Mexican flag and a U.S flag, as she attends a memorial service in honor of Army Specialist Vanessa Guillen, at Cesar Chavez High School on Friday, Aug. 14, 2020, in Houston. Guillen, who was last seen on April 22, was laid to rest nearly four months after she is said to have been killed by a fellow soldier at Fort Hood, a U.S. Army base in Texas. (Marie D. De Jesús/Houston Chronicle via AP) Associated Press

  • People document the hearse caring the remains of U.S. Army Specialist Vanessa Guillen, in front of a mural in honor of her as they arrived at Cesar Chavez High School Friday, Aug. 14, 2020, in Houston. Guillen, who was last seen on April 22, was laid to rest nearly four months after she is said to have been killed by a fellow soldier at Fort Hood, a U.S. Army base in Texas. (Steve Gonzales/Houston Chronicle via AP)

    People document the hearse caring the remains of U.S. Army Specialist Vanessa Guillen, in front of a mural in honor of her as they arrived at Cesar Chavez High School Friday, Aug. 14, 2020, in Houston. Guillen, who was last seen on April 22, was laid to rest nearly four months after she is said to have been killed by a fellow soldier at Fort Hood, a U.S. Army base in Texas. (Steve Gonzales/Houston Chronicle via AP) Associated Press

  • The casket of Army Specialist Vanessa Guillen is removed from a carriage to take it to a memorial service in honor of the soldier at Cesar Chavez High School Friday, Aug. 14, 2020, in Houston. Guillen, who was last seen on April 22, was laid to rest nearly four months after she is said to have been killed by a fellow soldier at Fort Hood, a U.S. Army base in Texas. Mourners gathered at the high school where Guillen grew up playing soccer and dreaming of joining the military. (Marie D. De Jesus/Houston Chronicle via AP)

    The casket of Army Specialist Vanessa Guillen is removed from a carriage to take it to a memorial service in honor of the soldier at Cesar Chavez High School Friday, Aug. 14, 2020, in Houston. Guillen, who was last seen on April 22, was laid to rest nearly four months after she is said to have been killed by a fellow soldier at Fort Hood, a U.S. Army base in Texas. Mourners gathered at the high school where Guillen grew up playing soccer and dreaming of joining the military. (Marie D. De Jesus/Houston Chronicle via AP) Associated Press

  • Rosa Samaniego holds a sign demanding justice for Spc. Vanessa Guillen at a memorial service in honor of the soldier on Friday, Aug. 14, 2020, in Houston. Guillen, who was last seen on April 22, was laid to rest nearly four months after she is said to have been killed by a fellow soldier at Fort Hood, a U.S. Army base in Texas. Mourners gathered at Cesar Chavez High School in Houston, where Guillen grew up playing soccer and dreaming of joining the military. (Marie D. De Jesus/Houston Chronicle via AP)

    Rosa Samaniego holds a sign demanding justice for Spc. Vanessa Guillen at a memorial service in honor of the soldier on Friday, Aug. 14, 2020, in Houston. Guillen, who was last seen on April 22, was laid to rest nearly four months after she is said to have been killed by a fellow soldier at Fort Hood, a U.S. Army base in Texas. Mourners gathered at Cesar Chavez High School in Houston, where Guillen grew up playing soccer and dreaming of joining the military. (Marie D. De Jesus/Houston Chronicle via AP) Associated Press

  • A horse draw carriage with the remains of U.S. Army Specialist Vanessa Guillen makes a final lap around the Cesar Chavez High School track Friday, Aug. 14, 2020, in Houston. Guillen, who was last seen on April 22, was laid to rest nearly four months after she is said to have been killed by a fellow soldier at Fort Hood, a U.S. Army base in Texas. Mourners gathered at the high school where Guillen grew up playing soccer and dreaming of joining the military. (Steve Gonzales/Houston Chronicle via AP)

    A horse draw carriage with the remains of U.S. Army Specialist Vanessa Guillen makes a final lap around the Cesar Chavez High School track Friday, Aug. 14, 2020, in Houston. Guillen, who was last seen on April 22, was laid to rest nearly four months after she is said to have been killed by a fellow soldier at Fort Hood, a U.S. Army base in Texas. Mourners gathered at the high school where Guillen grew up playing soccer and dreaming of joining the military. (Steve Gonzales/Houston Chronicle via AP) Associated Press

  • A horse draw carriage with the remains of U.S. Army Specialist Vanessa Guillen exits after making a final lap around the Cesar Chavez High School track Friday, Aug. 14, 2020, in Houston. Guillen, who was last seen on April 22, was laid to rest nearly four months after she is said to have been killed by a fellow soldier at Fort Hood, a U.S. Army base in Texas. Mourners gathered at the high school where Guillen grew up playing soccer and dreaming of joining the military. (Steve Gonzales/Houston Chronicle via AP)

    A horse draw carriage with the remains of U.S. Army Specialist Vanessa Guillen exits after making a final lap around the Cesar Chavez High School track Friday, Aug. 14, 2020, in Houston. Guillen, who was last seen on April 22, was laid to rest nearly four months after she is said to have been killed by a fellow soldier at Fort Hood, a U.S. Army base in Texas. Mourners gathered at the high school where Guillen grew up playing soccer and dreaming of joining the military. (Steve Gonzales/Houston Chronicle via AP) Associated Press

  • A family member of Army Spc. Vanessa Guillen, her Aunt Alma Garcia, second from left, becomes emotional at the public memorial service for Guillen on Friday, Aug. 14, 2020, in Houston. Guillen, who was last seen on April 22, was laid to rest nearly four months after she is said to have been killed by a fellow soldier at Fort Hood, a U.S. Army base in Texas. (Marie D. De Jesus/Houston Chronicle via AP)

    A family member of Army Spc. Vanessa Guillen, her Aunt Alma Garcia, second from left, becomes emotional at the public memorial service for Guillen on Friday, Aug. 14, 2020, in Houston. Guillen, who was last seen on April 22, was laid to rest nearly four months after she is said to have been killed by a fellow soldier at Fort Hood, a U.S. Army base in Texas. (Marie D. De Jesus/Houston Chronicle via AP) Associated Press

  • The casket of Army Spc. Vanessa Guillen is viewed at a public memorial service on Friday, Aug. 14, 2020, in Houston. Guillen, who was last seen on April 22, was laid to rest nearly four months after she is said to have been killed by a fellow soldier at Fort Hood, a U.S. Army base in Texas. Mourners gathered at Cesar Chavez High School where Guillen grew up playing soccer and dreaming of joining the military. (Marie D. De Jesus/Houston Chronicle via AP)

    The casket of Army Spc. Vanessa Guillen is viewed at a public memorial service on Friday, Aug. 14, 2020, in Houston. Guillen, who was last seen on April 22, was laid to rest nearly four months after she is said to have been killed by a fellow soldier at Fort Hood, a U.S. Army base in Texas. Mourners gathered at Cesar Chavez High School where Guillen grew up playing soccer and dreaming of joining the military. (Marie D. De Jesus/Houston Chronicle via AP) Associated Press

  • Gloria Guillen accompanied by her children arrives at Cesar Chavez High School to attend a public memorial service for her daughter Army Spc. Vanessa Guillen on Friday, Aug. 14, 2020, in Houston. Guillen, who was last seen on April 22, was laid to rest nearly four months after she is said to have been killed by a fellow soldier at Fort Hood, a U.S. Army base in Texas. (Marie D. De Jesus/Houston Chronicle via AP)

    Gloria Guillen accompanied by her children arrives at Cesar Chavez High School to attend a public memorial service for her daughter Army Spc. Vanessa Guillen on Friday, Aug. 14, 2020, in Houston. Guillen, who was last seen on April 22, was laid to rest nearly four months after she is said to have been killed by a fellow soldier at Fort Hood, a U.S. Army base in Texas. (Marie D. De Jesus/Houston Chronicle via AP) Associated Press

  • A young woman becomes emotional seeing the casket of Army Spc. Vanessa Guillen arrive at Cesar Chavez High School for a public memorial in her honor on Friday, Aug. 14, 2020, in Houston. Guillen, who was last seen on April 22, was laid to rest nearly four months after she is said to have been killed by a fellow soldier at Fort Hood, a U.S. Army base in Texas. (Marie D. De Jesus/Houston Chronicle via AP)

    A young woman becomes emotional seeing the casket of Army Spc. Vanessa Guillen arrive at Cesar Chavez High School for a public memorial in her honor on Friday, Aug. 14, 2020, in Houston. Guillen, who was last seen on April 22, was laid to rest nearly four months after she is said to have been killed by a fellow soldier at Fort Hood, a U.S. Army base in Texas. (Marie D. De Jesus/Houston Chronicle via AP) Associated Press

 
 
Updated 8/14/2020 3:44 PM

HOUSTON -- Flags from the U.S., Texas and Mexico flew at half staff Friday as a white, horse-drawn carriage embellished with white flowers brought in the custom green casket that carried the remains of a slain soldier.

Vanessa Guillen, who was last seen on April 22, was memorialized nearly four months after she is said to have been killed by a fellow soldier at Fort Hood, a U.S. Army base in Texas. Mourners gathered at Cesar Chavez High School in Houston, where Guillen grew up playing soccer and dreaming of joining the military.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

'She's very happy where she is next to God and the Virgin Mary,' said Lupe Guillen. 'We are not here for justice or politics today. We are here to remember, honor and respect Vanessa Guillen and her beautiful life, her tender heart and her beautiful face.'

In a private moment just before entering the school's auditorium, where flowers in green and yellow hues, balloons, religious images and pictures of Guillen adorned the stage, family and friends walked behind the casket, accompanying Guillen on a last lap around the field she frequented as a teenager. Guillen's mother and grandmother grasped each other as they prayed over the casket through sobs.

The Roman Catholic service was open to the public and was being streamed online. The memorial was scheduled to last until 8 p.m., with praise sessions, prayers and testimonials.

Guillen's story has renewed a push for changes in the way the military handles sexual abuse and harassment from Fort Hood to Capitol Hill.

Natalie Khawam, who is representing the Guillen family, said the family is thankful to President Donald Trump because the White House helped to expedite the process of giving Guillen's remains to relatives so they could have a funeral.

by signing up you agree to our terms of service
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Guillen disappeared from Fort Hood, where she was stationed, on April 22, and Army officials confirmed July 6 that her remains had been found. Investigators said she was bludgeoned to death on base by a fellow soldier, who later killed himself, according to a federal complaint.

Civilian Cecily Aguilar, 22, is charged with a federal count of conspiracy to destroy evidence in helping dispose of the body. She has pleaded not guilty and is being held at the Bell County Jail.

Guillen's family has said she was sexually harassed by the soldier suspected of killing her, but the Army has said there is no evidence of that.

The Army is investigating Guillen's death. Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy ordered an independent review of the command climate at Fort Hood following Guillen's slaying.

Members of Congress have joined advocates for women demanding systemic shifts in military culture. Some have invoked the hashtag #NiUnaMas, meaning 'not one more woman dead,' a rallying cry in Mexico against the killing of women.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

___

Acacia Coronado reported from Austin. She is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.'

___

This story has been corrected to show that Guillen's family has said the solider suspected of killing her also harassed her.

0 Comments
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 
Article Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.