Lorenza Almanza, the grandmother of slain Army Spc. Vanessa Guillén, traveled from Mexico to Houston, Texas, to say goodbye to her granddaughter.
“That justice be done is what I ask of my Most Holy Father and the Army, because she did not deserve those things that they did to her—she was an innocent girl, why did they do those things to her?” Almanza said.
The Army found the remains of Guillén’s dismembered body two months after she was last seen at Fort Hood on April 22. Aaron Robinson, a suspect in her slaying and a fellow Fort Hood soldier, shot and killed himself as police moved in to arrest him. A woman that officials identified as Robinson’s girlfriend was arrested and has pleaded not guilty to federal charges of tampering with evidence.
In the company of her son and his three daughters, Almanza, who is from Río Grande in Zacatecas, made the long journey from her town to Houston aboard a bus. She told Noticias Telemundo she was going not only to say goodbye to her granddaughter, but to offer comfort to Vanessa’s mother, her daughter, Gloria Guillén.
“God knows how they made my daughter suffer,” said Almanza, referring to her granddaughter as her daughter. She said the last time she saw Guillén, who was 20, was in December of last year and remembers her as a loving and joyful woman.
Almanza brought with her a bar of traditional Zacatecas chocolate, Guillén’s favorite, to put on her grave. A small altar was placed in the Plaza de Río Grande to honor the soldier.
On Friday, Guillén’s family attended the closed memorial service for her at Fort Hood, according to Stars and Stripes.
Guillén’s family said they went to the authorities at Fort Hood the day after she went missing but said the Army response was slow. As time dragged on they raised issues about the lack of answers around her case.
Calls for more answers around her disappearance gained traction as family, friends and even high-profile figures like Salma Hayek demanded that more be done to find her.
Related: The notion that the military could not protect Guillen — who dreamed of serving her country since she was young—has rattled Latinos in the military who are calling for changes.
The family alleged that their daughter had been sexually harassed. As the protests garnered prominent voices from the community, the story of the missing Latina soldier prompted service women and veterans to tell their own cases of harassment and sexual abuse and how authorities had ignored or tried to hide them.
Guillén’s death has led to protests, marches and rallies in communities around the country and to calls for reopening of other cases of military service members who are missing or who have died in unusual circumstances.
The Army reinstated Pvt. Gregory Wedel Morales, according to the Army Times. Wedel Morales, who took his wife’s last name of Morales when they married, had been listed as a deserter since his Sept. 19 disappearance. But his remains were found June 19, during the uproar over the Army’s response to Guillén’s disappearance. The case remains open and the Army suspects foul play .
Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy recently announced that he would recommend to the Department of Defense that its inspector general conduct a “full, independent” review of the slaying of Guillén and related circumstances.
A previous version of this story was first published in Noticias Telemundo.
Source: NBC Latino