The U.S. Army announced the replacement of Fort Hood’s senior commander Tuesday, following a series of deaths and disappearances connected to the installation.
Maj. Gen. John B. Richardson IV will become deputy commanding general of III Corps operations and acting senior commander of the Texas facility on Wednesday.
The change in leadership was scheduled previously, according to the Army’s public affairs office.
Then-Brig. Gen. John B. Richardson IV at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., June 25, 2018. (U.S. Army photo by William Pratt)
But Fort Hood’s current commanding officer, Maj. Gen. Scott Efflandt, will remain at the base rather than taking command of the 1st Armored Division as previously planned.
Gen. John Murray will lead a probe into Fort Hood’s chain of command surrounding the death of Spc. Vanessa Guillen. That investigation is in addition to an independent review that started last month. There are around 40,000 soldiers at Fort Hood.
Guillen, 20, was missing for weeks before authorities uncovered her remains in July. She had been bludgeoned and dismembered, according to authorities.
Army Spc. Vanessa Guillen (Fort Hood Press Center)
Her suspected killer, 20-year-old Army Spc. Aaron Robinson, shot and killed himself as homicide investigators closed in. Cecily Aguilar, 22, is accused of helping Robinson dispose of the body a few miles away from Fort Hood. She has pleaded not guilty and faces up to 20 years in federal prison if convicted.
Guillen’s death prompted a movement to fight sexual abuse and harassment in the military after family members alleged she was harassed by Robinson. The Army said it did not find evidence supporting that claim.
Guillen is one of several Fort Hood soldiers to have died or disappeared this year – in addition to instances in which investigators uncovered the remains of soldiers missing since before 2020.
Sgt. Elder Fernandes was reported missing on Aug. 19, two days after he was last seen alive. (U.S. Army via AP, File)
Sgt. Elder Fernandes, 23, was reported missing Aug. 19, two days after he was last seen alive. Railroad workers found him hanged from a tree days later in an apparent suicide. Fernandes had filed a sexual abuse claim with the Army in May against a male superior, and according to this family's attorney, he was bullied and harassed when he was transferred to a new unit.
In June, investigators uncovered the remains of Pvt. Gregory Morales, who went missing last year. Foul play is also suspected.
In August, Spc. Francisco Gilberto Hernandez-Vargas, 24, died in a boating accident on Stillhouse Hollow Lake, 15 miles from Fort Hood. A month later, Pvt. Mejhor Morta, 26, drowned there.
Pfc. Brandon Rosecrans, 28, was fatally shot and dumped on the side of the road in Harker Heights back in May. The suspect in that case was charged with murder in August.
And in March, the remains of another soldier were found in a field 10 months after he’d vanished.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.