U.S. Army investigators said late Thursday that no foul play was evident in the death of a female soldier at Fort Hood in Texas, but that the case remains under investigation.
Pvt. Ana Basalduaruiz, a combat engineer, had served with the 1st Cavalry Division division for the past 15 months, officials said.
“Army CID will continue to conduct a thorough investigation and gather all evidence and facts to ensure they discover exactly what transpired. Information related to any possible harassment will be addressed and investigated fully,” Fort Hood officials said in a news release.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of PV2 Ana Basalduaruiz, and we extend our sympathies to her father, mother, and her sister,” said Lt. Col. Patrick Sullivan, commander, 91st Engineer Battalion. “Our thoughts and prayers are with them during this difficult time. She was an exceptional teammate that will truly be missed.”
Basalduaruiz’s parents said that base officials told them her death was caused by suicide, Telemundo News reported. Her mother, Alejandra Ruiz Zarco, who lives in Michoacán, Mexico, where her daughter was raised, told Telemundo News that her daughter had complained about being sexually harassed by an Army superior and others on the base.
The news comes as the beleaguered base is instituting changes after a string of soldier deaths, including 20-year-old Vanessa Guillén, who was allegedly killed by a fellow soldier. Guillén went missing after she reported allegedly being sexually harassed by Army Spc. Aaron David Robinson. He shot and killed himself as police tried to arrest him in connection with Guillén’s murder.
Guillén’s sister tweeted on Wednesday, “She (Ana) was only 21 years old…I will be speaking to the family soon, I find it very sensitive to speak on something I’m not fully aware off yet and this is also very triggering for me.”
Guillén’s death led to congressional inquiries and the formation of the Fort Hood Independent Review Committee, whose 2020 report concluded the base’s command has been permissive of sexual harassment and sexual assault. The report also found that criminal division investigators had inadequate experience and soldiers felt unsafe on the base.
In 2021, the committee released a series of 70 recommendations, including strict protocol and time for reporting a missing soldier.
The Pink Berets, a Texas-based not-for-profit that works with women in the military struggling with trauma, issued a statement Thursday on behalf of the family. “Our family wants to ensure that women serving in the United States Military can be safe and protected,” the statement reads. “The United States can not be protected by soldiers that are victims of heinous crimes. The family is asking for support and a formal investigation into Ana’s death.”
Her father, Baldo Basaldua, who lives in California, posted a video on Facebook of his daughters dancing and singing in the backseat of a car, writing, “Never leave me, I love you baby.”
If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or a suicidal crisis, you can reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by calling or texting 988. You can also chat with the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline here.
For more information about mental health care resources and support, The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) HelpLine can be reached Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.–10 p.m. ET, at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or email [email protected]