July 21, 2020

Following Disappearance And Murder Of Vanessa Guillén, Gillibrand Offers Amendment To Review Military’s Missing Person Investigation Procedures

Guillén Investigation Revealed Substantial Issues In How The Army Conducts Missing Person Investigations; Amendment To NDAA Asks GAO To Review Process To Ensure Procedures Mirror Best Practices Of Federal, State And Local Organizations, And Modernize Missing Person Investigations

Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel, offered an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would require the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to review the military’s missing person investigation procedures in order to correct past missteps and modernize the process. Gillibrand offered the amendment following the murder of Specialist Vanessa Guillén, who had been missing for two months before Army investigators found her remains in the vicinity of Fort Hood, where she had been stationed. 

Gillibrand’s amendment would ensure that military procedures mirror best practices of federal, state and local organizations and would ask the GAO to examine other possible issues in the Guilléninvestigation, such as inadequate staffing, poor training, and/or a lack of communication with family members and the public. The GAO would report on the military criminal investigative organizations' notification and other procedures for complex crimes as well military resources available for missing persons investigations and any apparent shortfalls in resources.  

“The Army’s investigation into Specialist Vanessa Guillén’s disappearance was completely inadequate and unacceptable,” said Senator Gillibrand“The Army did not work promptly or effectively with other law enforcement and did not keep the public or the family apprised of progress. Not only must there be a full and thorough investigation into Guillén’s disappearance and murder, but there must be a comprehensive review of the military’s missing person investigation procedures in order to prevent incidents like this in the future.”

On July, 2, Gillibrand and Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA), chair of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel, sent a letter to Acting Department of Defense Inspector General Sean O’Donnell calling for an investigation into the disappearance of Specialist (SPC) Vanessa Guillén. On July 6, Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia (TX-29) led a letter with 87 members of Congress in support of Rep. Speier and Sen. Gillibrand’s request. 

Congresswoman Speier has offered a similar amendment to the House NDAA.