By WILLIAM MANSELL, ABC News
(TEMPLE, Texas) — Authorities in Texas believe a body found Tuesday is likely that of missing Fort Hood soldier Sgt. Elder Fernandes, who was last seen on Aug. 17.
Responding to a medical call Tuesday, police in Temple, Texas, located a deceased person near some railroad tracks. Police said identification found at the scene suggests the body is Fernandes’, however, there has been no forensic confirmation yet.
At this time, Temple Police said there is no indication of foul play.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Fernandes family during this challenging time,” Temple Police Chief Shawn Reynolds said in a statement Tuesday night.
Fernandes’ mother, Ailina Fernandes, and brother, Elton Fernandes, told ABC News last week that he had reported being sexually harassed in the months leading up to his disappearance.
“It was an ongoing investigation for two months that will never get closure,” his mother said. “And there’s a lot more that I don’t know; only Elder will be able to tell us, when we find him.”
The 1st Cavalry Division confirmed there is an open investigation into alleged abusive sexual contact involving Fernandes to ABC last week, saying that he was moved to a new unit and steps were taken to shield him from retribution.
Fernandes’ disappearance is just one of several this year from Fort Hood. The murder of Vanessa Guillen sparked nationwide outrage and at least three soldiers from the base died in July.
Officials believe Fernandes, 23, left Fort Hood on his own accord.
“Information gathered from fellow soldiers indicate Sgt. Fernandes left on his own accord,” the 1st Cavalry Division said in a statement over the weekend.
A 1st Cavalry Division official confirmed that Fernandes was hospitalized from Aug. 11 to Aug. 17.
According to police, Fernandes was last seen by his staff sergeant on the afternoon of the 17th, who dropped him off at a residence in nearby Killeen, Texas, police said.
Police said the investigation is ongoing and that next-of-kin has been notified.
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