Army investigators suspect foul play in the death of a missing Fort Hood soldier whose remains were found last week.
Authorities confirmed that the skeletal remains found in a field in Killeen, Texas Friday is the body of Gregory Morales, according to the Fort Hood Press Center. The 24-year-old, who changed his surname from Wedel after he got married, vanished nearly a year ago, the Center revealed.
His death is now being investigated as a homicide, officials confirmed in the release.
“The First Team is saddened by the news of the passing of PV2 Gregory Morales. His life was taken too soon, and we appreciate his service to our nation,” said Major General Jeffery Broadwater, commander of the 1st Cavalry Division, in the statement.
The army release claimed Morales was last seen in August driving his car outside of Fort Hood.
His remains were identified using dental records with the assistance of the U.S. Army Dental Corps, investigators disclosed in the statement. Autopsy results to determine the cause and manner of his death are still pending.
Army investigators are currently offering up to $25,000 to anyone with credible information about Morales’ death.
Here’s what we know about the case so far:
Morales was Set to be Discharged a Couple of Days Before he Disappeared
The Oklahoma native entered the Army in June 2015 as a motor transport operator, according to the Fort Hood press release. He had been assigned since November 2016 to the 1st Sustainment Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division.
Morales was last seen driving his 2018 Black KIA Rio off-post in Killeen on the night of Aug. 19, 2019, the release continued. He was driving with the temporary Texas license tags, 46190B3.
The next day was Morales’ last known verbal contact, officials confirmed in the same statement.
Kim Wedel, Morales’ mother, told KCEN that her son had “called and asked for some gas money” and “said he had bought a new car.”
Fort Hood officials said Morales was “out processing from the Army and scheduled to be discharged within a couple of days” before disappearing, according to the statement posted on the Fort Hood Press Center.
Morales was classified as AWOL when he failed to return to the base and then deserted.
KCEN reported that Wedel’s daughter-in-law later tracked down Morales’ vehicle on Carfax after someone in the Dallas-area had tried to bring it in for an inspection.
The car has since been recovered by authorities, Fort Hood officials confirmed.
Wedel said she doesn’t believe her son would have intentionally vanished knowing he was so close to being discharged, according to KCEN.
Morales is the First of Two Soldiers Who Went Missing From the Base in a Year
Vanessa Guillen, 20, was a soldier stationed at Fort Hood, Heavy previously reported. A Private First Class in the Army, she was last seen on April 22 in the parking lot of the Regimental Engineer Squadron Headquarters, 3rd Cavalry Regiment at Fort Hood, according to an Army press release.
Her car keys, car and wallet were still at the base, but she may have had her phone with her.
It’s not known if Guillen was last seen by a specific person or on camera.
Investigators working on Morales’ case said in an updated statement that they have no credible information linking the two disappearances.
Fort Hood officials assured that Guillen’s investigation is still “being aggressively investigated.”
On June 19, base Army criminal investigators reached out to Killeen police regarding a tip they received about a body in a field, according to the army release.
Killeen police homicide detectives joined the investigators, as well as a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department search dog, to uncover Morales’ remains.
Fort Hood said the 24-year-old had earned numerous awards and decorations, including two Army Achievement Medals, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.
Morales’ name was still listed as a fugitive by the Army as of Tuesday morning.