BROCKTON, Mass. — Friday marks one month since Fort Hood soldier, Brockton native Sergeant Elder Fernandes, was found dead in a remote area in Texas.
Army and police officials in Texas are telling the family their son’s death was a suicide. The family says their loved one was murdered.
Now, they are taking the next step to get answers.
Hurt now turned into anger for the Brockton family. The family says they are being left in the dark about the real investigation into what happened to the 23-year-old. The mystery now remains, what documents and evidence was in Fernandes' computers.
“Their focus is to make everyone believe that he killed himself. We know he didn’t kill himself. That’s what they are pushing everyone to believe,” said Isabel Fernandes, Elder’s aunt.
Outside of Sgt. Elder Fernandes' Brockton home, Boston 25 News reporter Malini Basu spoke with his heartbroken aunt Isabel Fernandes.
“If the Army could cooperate with us, instead of creating a narrative of lies after lies,” said Fernandes.
On August 17, Fort Hood Sgt. Elder Fernandes went missing after being released from an Army hospital. Eight days later, the 23-year-old was found hanging from a tree in Temple, Texas, 26 miles away from where the family says an Army Sergeant dropped him off.
“No one has been able to ascertain how he got from Killeen to Temple, 26 miles,” said, Leonard Kesten, the attorney representing the Fernandes family.
“They are hiding things, and trying to get ahead of us, and portray a picture of Elder that doesn’t exist,” said Fernandes.
In May, Army officials said Sgt. Fernandes reported that he was a victim of sexual assault, but the Army says it was unfounded.
“There was a bag with computers,” said Kesten.
Now, the big mystery remains, what evidence is left behind in Fernandes' computer, iPad, and hard drive.
“There could easily and likely will be information about the sexual assault,” said Kesten.
All devices, the family says investigators never even looked at. Boston 25 News obtained exclusive photos of the devices as they were handed over to an expert.
“Elder Fernandes was a young man. I expect his entire life will be in there. There could be information about Vanessa Guillen,” said Kesten.
Earlier this week, the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation reported their findings saying Fort Hood has a toxic systemic culture.
The family says, the Army isn’t doing enough to get answers about what happened really happened to Fernandes.
A spokesperson from the criminal investigation division says "CID interviewed more than 100 unit personnel, family members, and friends of Sgt. Fernandes; reviewed CCTV footage, analyzed financial and digital records, and conducted targeted area searches along with law enforcement and unit personnel.”
“We gave them Elder alive and well, then he went to serve in the Army in Texas. Something happens to him, and no one does anything to help us. They didn’t do anything to comfort the family,” said Fernandes.
I also reached out to the Temple, Texas Police Department, and they did not respond to me. Congressman Stephen Lynch’s office has also demanded an investigation, and they tell me they can’t comment right now, as the investigation is ongoing. The bottom line here, the family says, Fernandes' had tremendous support from his family, and they think their loved one was murdered.
The family has created a scholarship in honor of Sgt. Elder Fernandes, who the family says loved to give back to the community. Here is the link to the GoFundMe account if you would like to contribute.