The family of Vanessa Guillen is continuing their fight for justice in the 20-year-old Army specialist’s slaying. Her fiance, Juan Cruz, is also speaking publicly in 2021 for the first time since the murder last year.
Guillen’s family members have said there was more to the story of her death and disappearance than Army officials said in statements.
The case was first examined on ABC 20/20 in a two-hour special, “I Am Vanessa,” which aired September 11, 2020. Now, 20/20 is taking a fresh look at the case, and speaking to her fiance and family members.
Here’s what you need to know:
Cruz Proposed to Guillen in March 2020, Just Weeks Before Her Murder
Cruz told ABC 25 he proposed to Guillen in March 2020, just weeks before she was murdered. He saw her for the last time on April 19, 2020, three days before she disappeared, he told the news station.
“She told me, ‘I love you. Goodnight,'” he told ABC 25. “Then, the next day, she woke up, like, at 5 in the morning to leave to Fort Hood… I was still asleep but I remember she gave me a kiss and she left.”
Cruz told the news station he is continually reminded of the loss, driving through Houston and seeing memorials to his fiancée.
“Memories never die,” he told ABC 25. “It just seems like a nightmare when I drive through Houston. I see her murals and I say to myself, ‘Damn, this is reality. She’s no longer here.’ On the other hand, murals aren’t made for just anyone. That brought me a bit of peace to my heart.”
Guillen’s Sister, Lupe Guillen, Said The Family Needs Closure After Cecily Aguilar’s Trial Was Rescheduled for the Fourth Time in April 2021
The trial for Cecily Aguilar, who is accused of helping Aaron Robinson hide Guillen’s body, has been delayed four times, and at her last court appearance April 20, 2021, a new trial date was not set, according to ABC 25. Both prosecutors and defense attorneys said they needed more time to prepare their arguments before moving forward to trial, the news station reported, but Guillen’s family members said they need answers.
“To hold those accountable, and to know what happened to my sister…what was the motive. And if they’re actually investigating what’s going on at Fort Hood,” Lupe Guillen told the news station.
She continued, describing the emotional toll the disappearance took on the family.
“I feel all the emotions come years later, months later. Like right now I feel like everything is just, now I can comprehend everything that happened because at that moment we were just trying to find her, we were just trying to get answers,” Lupe Guillen told the news station.
Aguilar was charged with conspiracy to tamper with evidence after she was accused of helping Robinson dismember the body and burn Guillen’s remains, The New York Times reported. Her charge carries a potential sentence of up to 20 years in prison, the article said.
Khawam told the Army Times Robinson contacted his girlfriend “to help him bury her bloody body.”
“At first they tried to set her on fire, but she wouldn’t burn. Then they dismembered this beautiful U.S. soldier’s body with a machete,” she added.