Is I Am Vanessa Guillén a true story? Real events Netflix documentary is based on, what happened to soldier

I Am Vanessa Guillén is a Netflix documentary about the murder of a American soldier at a base in Texas

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Netflix true crime documentary I Am Vanessa Guillén follows the investigation into the killing of a female US army soldier by a male soldier, and the subsequent review of the investigation. Guillén was brutally killed by another soldier who then tried to cover up the crime, allegedly with the help of his girlfriend, and Guillén’s body was not discovered for more than two months.

Vanessa GuillénVanessa Guillén
Vanessa Guillén

Is I Am Vanessa Guillen a true story?

Yes, the Netflix feature-length documentary recounts the true story of Vanessa Guillén’s murder and her family’s fight for justice. Guillén was a 20 year old US army soldier who was killed by a fellow soldier at an armoury at Fort Hood, Texas.

Before Guillén was killed, she told her family that she was experiencing sexual harassment by a sergeant at Fort Hood - she also said that other women who has made similar accusations had been dismissed.

Guillén was killed on 22 April 2020, but her remains were not discovered for two months. Her killer, Aaron David Robinson, dismembered Guillén’s body and buried her remains along the Leon River in Texas.

Guillén’s family did not trust the army to handle the investigation into her disappearance, and on 13 June a crowd of people assembled at the gates of Fort Hood to protest the lack of information being released about the case.

Police claimed that over 10,000 man hours had been spent investigating Guillén’s disappearance. On 30 June 2020, Guillén’s remains were discovered along the Leon River - an area that had previously been searched by Texas Rangers, detectives, and cadaver dogs. Robinson fled Fort Hood and was pursued by police - he killed himself when officers tried to apprehend him.

After the discovery of the remains, authorities interviewed Cecily Aguilar, the estranged wife of another soldier at Fort Hood. She was reportedly Robinson’s girlfriend - she told police that Robinson had confessed to her that he had killed a female soldier at Fort Hood by hitting her with a hammer. Aguilar is alleged to have helped Robinson dispose of Guillén’s body.

Mural of Vanessa GuillénMural of Vanessa Guillén
Mural of Vanessa Guillén

Why did Robinson kill Vanessa Guillén?

It was revealed in a report released in May this year, that Guillén had seen Robinson’s mobile phone lock screen, which showed an image of Aguilar. Robinson worried that he would get in trouble for breaching fraternisation rules, because Aguilar was still married to another officer, which could result in a court-martial.

Because Robinson was concerned that Guillén would expose his relationship with Aguilar, he bludgeoned her to death with a hammer.

What happened after the investigation?

Guillén’s family were not satisfied with the army’s handling of sexual harassment claims and of the investigation into Guillén’s disappearance. Guillén’s mother also stated that witnesses told her they had heard two shots when Robinson died, and she believes that he was killed by police as part of a coverup.

The family met with President Donald Trump who assured them that a full independent review would be held. The review found there were several leadership failures at Fort Hood and that there was a  ‘permissive environment for sexual assault and sexual harassment’ at the base. In January 2022, President Joe Biden signed an Executive Order establishing sexual harassment as a specific offense in military law.

What happened to Cecily Aguilar?

In July 2021 Aguilar was indicted on 11 counts relating to Guillén’s death, including her role as an accessory and in destroying evidence of the crime. The trial and jury selection date for Aguilar’s case is set for January 2023 - if she is convicted she could face up to 20 years in prison.

When is I Am Vanessa Guillén on Netflix?

The feature-length documentary will be released on Netflix on Thursday 17 November.

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