Mass. Lawmakers Request Investigation Into Death Of Sgt. Fernandes

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Nearly a dozen Massachusetts lawmakers are requesting the Department of Defense conduct an investigation into the disappearance and death of a U.S. Army soldier from Brockton.

23-year-old Sergeant Elder Fernandes was serving with the 1st Cavalry Division at the Fort Hood U.S. Army Base in Kileen, Texas when he was reported missing last week. He was the 10th soldier to disappear from the base this year, according to the Boston Globe.

Prior to his disappearance, Sgt. Fernandes had reported an incident of abusive sexual contact by a senior officer, which was under investigation by the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division.

Sgt. Fernandes was also reportedly hospitalized from August 11 until he was last seen by members of his unit on August 17. He did not show up for work the following day. His body was found Tuesday, about 25 miles east of the military base. Officials said there was "no indication of foul play."

In a letter sent Thursday to the Inspector General of the Department of Defense, nearly a dozen Massachusetts lawmakers requested the DoD investigate Fernandes' death, and the Army's response to his disappearance.

“We are heartbroken by Sgt. Fernandes’ death. As Members of Congress representing Sgt. Fernandes and his family, we demand a full and transparent investigation into the circumstances of his death, including allegations of abusive sexual contact, bullying, and retaliation,” the lawmakers wrote. “We also ask you to investigate the Army’s response to Sgt. Fernandes’ disappearance and whether Army leaders kept the Fernandes family appropriately informed about the search for their missing relative until he was found on August 25.”

“We must do more than grieve the loss of Sgt. Fernandes—we must seek justice and answers for his family," the letter continued. "That starts with a full and complete investigation."

The letter was signed by Rep. Stephen Lynch, Chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on National Security, U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey, U.S. Reps. Richard Neal, James P. McGovern Joe Kennedy III, Katherine Clark, Ayanna Pressley, and members of the House Armed Services Committee Reps. William Keating, Seth Moulton, and Lori Trahan.

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(Photo: U.S. Army)

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