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New Netflix Doc Tells the Tragic Story of US Army Soldier Vanessa Guillen’s Murder

A new documentary about U.S. Army soldier Vanessa Guillen’s murder is coming to Netflix this month 8520 — promising an in-depth look into the tragic loss, and her family’s fight to be heard.

The trailer for “I Am Vanessa Guillen” will no doubt give you goosebumps, starting off with a news report blaring, “Her case is grabbing headlines across the nation. People want to know: Where is Vanessa Guillen?”

Specialist Guillen went missing at military base Fort Hood in Texas on April 22, 2020, and was last seen in a parking lot near her squadron. The two months that followed proved to be grueling and absolutely devastating for Guillen’s family, who were at a complete loss when it came to her whereabouts. 

One of the late soldier’s loved ones explains in the doc’s trailer, “I called the staff sergeant and he’s like, ‘We don’t know anything about her.’” The family asked if they had cameras at the base, and were simply told “no.” As a narrative voice describes, “The military did not give a damn.” 

The following months saw widespread efforts at the hands of Guillen’s loved ones, who took to social media and the streets in protest to demand information about where she was. The soldier’s parents and five siblings did not give up even while the military stayed quiet, soon enough sparking the worldwide movement #IAmVanessaGuillen for justice. 

Guillen’s remains weren’t found until June 30 that year, appearing near the Leon River. U.S. Army Specialist Aaron Robinson was accused of killing Guillen, with court documents stating that Robinson allegedly hit her with a hammer, killed her, hid her body in a box, and tried to dismember her alongside his girlfriend Cecily Aguilar. This came after Guillen entered Robinson’s arms room for work-related reasons.

Even more, Guillen’s mother said her daughter had been sexually assaulted, saying in the trailer: “[Vanessa] said, ‘I have been harassed by a superior.’” Her sister also described how the late soldier “had always been the bravest” out of all her siblings, but “something was wrong with her” in the months that passed after arriving at Fort Hood. Guillen could not sleep, was losing weight, and said “things weren’t what they seemed.” The grieving mother describes the military base as a “place of corruption and evil.” 

As per the doc, Vanessa Guillen’s murder “was not one of those cases the military could sweep under the rug” — mostly on account of her loved ones’ efforts to find her, investigate what happened, and make sure nothing like this would ever occur again. And they mostly did it themselves: Guillen’s mother describes, “These animals won’t look for my child. I have to look for my daughter myself.”

Sweeping online and physical protests led to the military to finally react, with her family heading to Congress to pass the I Am Vanessa Guillen Act. The law made history, all in the name of protecting victims of sexual harassment and abuse in the miltary. It was passed under the National Defense Authorization Act by President Biden in December 2021.

As Guillen’s older Mayra Guillen said, “The best way to honor my sister was by having history being made in her honor, in her memory.”

“I Am Vanessa Guillen” premieres on Netflix on November 17.

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