Mural to Honor Vanessa Guillen Outside Fort Hood’s East Gate
A mural honoring the life and service of Vanessa Guillen will soon be a permanent fixture outside of Fort Hood's East Gate.
Artist Cherine Mendoza, with support from the League of United Latin American Citizens, Sick Made Tattoo, and donations to GoFundMe has been working on the mural since she arrived from California Friday.
As I chatted with her Sunday afternoon, Mendoza said LULAC contacted her Wednesday, and when her plane landed in Austin Friday, she went straight to an art supply store near the airport to stock up on the spray paints she's used to create this beautiful tribute to Vanessa.
Mendoza said she's been working on the piece well into the early morning hours (usually around 3 AM) since arriving, with help and support from the staff at Sick Made Tattoo, LULAC members, and civilians and soldiers who've stopped to drop off donations of food and water.
When I visited the mural-in-progress Sunday, candles, flowers, and photos left by those wishing to show their support of both Vanessa's family and the family of Gregory Morales surrounded the area where Mendoza was working.
Mendoza told me the canvas for the mural was installed by Sick Made Tattoo owner Sergio Palomino, who plans to keep the mural on the tattoo shop's property across from the East Gate as a permanent tribute to Vanessa. Visitors were encouraged to sign the back of the mural and leave messages. When the work is done, a protective frame will be put in place.
Vanessa Guillen went missing on April 22nd. Investigators recently released an affidavit indicating she was murdered by Spc. Aaron David Robinson, in whose armory room Guillen was seen working the day she disappeared.
Witnesses reported seeing Robinson removing a heavy box from the building that day and loading it into a truck before leaving base. Investigators say he later contacted his girlfriend, Cecily Anne Aguilar, and recruited her help in disposing of human remains that were recently discovered near the Leon River. Those remains have not yet been positively identified as Guillen, but Guillen's family believe the remains are hers, and federal charges have been filed against Aguilar for her alleged part in Vanessa's disappearance.
UPDATE: Vanessa Guillen's family and their attorney said Sunday evening that remains have been positively identified as Vanessa.
On June 19, the remains of missing Fort Hood soldier Gregory Morales were found in a wooded field near Florence Road in Killeen. He'd been missing since August of 2019, and investigators say an anonymous tip led to the discovery of his body.
Morales was reported AWOL and listed as a deserter. His family is demanding that he be reinstated, as well as an investigation of the Killeen and Fort Hood Police Departments "for their lack of investigation skills over the years". A change.org petition for Gregory's reinstatement continues to draw signatures.