Missing Fort Hood soldier was victim in 'abusive sexual contact' investigation

An open investigation of "abuse sexual contact" involving missing Fort Hood soldier Sgt. Elder Fernandes was confirmed by the military post Friday evening.

"The unit sexual assault response coordinator has been working closely with Sgt. Fernandes, ensuring he was aware of all his reporting, care, and victim advocacy options," Lt. Col. Chris Brautigam, Fort Hood public affairs officer, said in a statement. "The unit also facilitated his transfer from a unit who has recently deployed to a different unit within the brigade to ensure he received the proper care and ensure there were no opportunities for reprisals."

Maj. Gen. Scott Efflandt, commander of Fort Hood, said he does not suspect foul play in the disappearance of the 23-year-old.

Fernandes was reported missing to police Aug. 19, according to Killeen police. KPD said he was last seen by his staff sergeant Monday afternoon when he dropped him off at his residence in the 2700 block of Woodlands Drive in Killeen.

Fort Hood reported Aug. 21 that Fernandes "may have left Fort Hood on his own accord" following information gathered from other soldiers. He did not report to work the following day as scheduled, Fort Hood said in a release. His only known vehicle was found on post in his unit's parking lot.

“We are very concerned about the welfare of this soldier and first and foremost we want to ensure he is okay,” Christopher Grey, spokesman for CID, said in the release. “If someone out there has any information, regardless of how trivial you may think it is, we are asking you to contact us immediately.”

Fernandes is about 5'5" tall and weighs approximately 133 pounds. He was last seen wearing black army PT shorts, a T-shirt and red athletic shoes.

Detectives with the Criminal Investigation Division are asking anyone who has seen Fernandez or know about his whereabouts to contact the Killeen Police Department at 254-200-7905.

Fort Hood put out a BOLO alert via social media for the soldier. The post said those with information on Fernandez can contact Fort Hood military police at 254-288-1170 or U.S. Army CID at 254-287-2722. Tips can also be submitted anonymously online.