Army investigators have found no foul play in the death of Fort Hood soldier Ana Basalduaruiz, reportedly telling her family that she died by suicide — after she complained to her parents about being sexually harassed by her superior and others.
The 21-year-old combat engineer was pronounced dead Monday — less than three years after the brutal murder of Vanessa Guillen, who had also endured alleged sexual harassment before being bludgeoned with a hammer and butchered.
The Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID), which has been looking into Basalduaruiz’s death, said Thursday that “no foul play is evident.”
“Army CID will continue to conduct a thorough investigation and gather all evidence and facts to ensure they discover exactly what transpired,” officials stated. “Information related to any possible harassment will be addressed and investigated fully.”
During an emotional interview with Telemundo News, Basalduaruiz’s parents said they were told by Fort Hood brass that their daughter died by suicide.
Alejandra Ruiz Zarco, the soldier’s mother, told the Spanish-language news outlet from her home in Mexico that Basalduaruiz had complained about being sexually harassed by her superior and other colleagues on the base.
“She told me, ‘mom, everyone wants me to sleep with them, but they are a—holes,’” Ruiz Zarco said.
In their last phone conversation on March 8, Ruiz Zarco said her daughter sounded deeply upset and confided in her that her life was in a state of turmoil.
“She told me that she was very sad,” the mom recalled, “that things were not as normal as I thought, that she couldn’t tell me much, but that there was going to be a moment when we were going to be together and she could say everything.”
The heartbroken mom added that during that conversation, her 21-year-old daughter told her that she desperately wanted to see her and hug her.
“And she wanted me to hug her a lot, like when she was little,” Ruiz Zarco shared.
Basalduaruiz was a Mexican-born naturalized US citizen who joined the Army in 2020, but her military training was postponed for a year because of COVID.
She had served with the 1st Cavalry Division in Fort Hood for 15 months and was scheduled to complete her contract in August, said her father, Baldo Basaldua, of California.
The dad told Telemundo News that before her death, Basalduaruiz told him that “she was no longer comfortable, that her whole life was wrong, that she wanted to die.”
The man last spoke to his daughter last Saturday. She then stopped responding to his texts, and by Monday Basaldua’s messages were no longer reaching his daughter’s phone.
“I went to look for her [satellite] location and then it appeared that she was like in a park inside the base and that was it,” the father said. “I just put a message to her that the one who was going to die was going to be me, of anguish.”
Later that same day, Army representatives showed up at the restaurant where Basaldua works and gave him the devastating news.
Lucy Del Gaudio, an advocate for women in the military who’s acting as a spokesperson for Basalduaruiz’ family, told CBS News that the Army so far has “stonewalled” their inquires about the young soldier’s alleged sexual harassment.
“The Army is doing what they always do, not saying anything,” Del Gaudio said, adding that Basalduaruiz’s loved ones are demanding answers.
Balsaduaruiz’s death comes less than three years after the murder of 20-year-old soldier Vanessa Guillen after she, too, had complained about unwanted sexual advances at Fort Hood.
Guillen was bludgeoned to death with a hammer, dismembered and buried in a shallow grave in April 2020.
Her suspected killer, 20-year-old Spc. Aaron Robinson, shot himself in June of that year as police tried to arrest him.
Guillen’s slaying sparked a social media movement and eventually led to disciplinary action being taken against 21 officers and non-commissioned officers at the troubled base.
An independent review panel tasked with looking into more than two dozen soldier deaths at Fort Hood that took place in 2020 alone found that the military installation’s leaders were not properly addressing sexual assault and harassment, drug use and other problems affecting personnel.
The review also found that the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division — the same agency that found no foul play in Balsaduaruiz’s death — was understaffed, overwhelmed and filled with inexperienced investigators.