The U.S. Army is investigating after finding partial human skeletal remains within the bounds of the Fort Bliss Army base in El Paso, Texas on Thursday.
Fort Bliss Provost Marshals Office was notified after a citizen walking near the Castner Range, in the Hondo Pass area on Fort Bliss found the remains, according to a Fort Bliss press statement provided to American Military News. The area is part of the base and is in the vicinity of an El Paso Border Patrol Station in northeast El Paso.
Staff Sgt. Nicholas Brown-Bell told American Military News that a portion of Fort Bliss property extends onto Castor Range, a mountain range frequented by hikers. The portion of Fort Bliss property that extends onto the range also abuts a major highway where there is no fencing to demarcate where the base property begins.
“It is Fort Bliss property, but it’s not within the cantonment area,” he said, referring to the main residential area within a military base. “So it’s not fenced in, you don’t have to go through a gate or anything like that.”
The remains were discovered above ground with no indications they had been buried. Criminal Investigation Command (CIC) Agents from Fort Bliss coordinated with El Paso medical examiners, to investigate the scene.
The newly discovered remains will be sent to the Armed Forces Medical Examiner at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware for identification.
Fort Bliss currently has one active missing person case, that of 21-year-old Private Richard Halliday, missing since July 23, 2020. According to the Fort Bliss press statement, initial investigations indicate Halliday’s case and the case of the skeletal remains found Thursday are not related.
The discovery of the skeletal remains come after a string of high profile disappearances and deaths at military bases in 2020.
Prior to Halliday’s disappearance, 20-year-old Pvt. Vanessa Guillen went missing from Fort Hood, Texas on April 22, 2020. Guillen’s dismembered remains were found on June 30 and subsequently identified. Suspects have since been charged in Guillen’s disappearance and death.
Another Fort Hood soldier, 23-year-old Sgt. Elder Fernandes, went missing from the base and was found days later hanging from a tree.
Both Guillen and Fernandes had reportedly experienced sexual harrassment prior to their disapperances.
The incidents at Fort Bliss sparked an investigation of the base command climate by an independent review panel, which in December released its report finding a command climate at Fort Hood that was permissive of sexual harassment and sexual assault.” Then-Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy announced 14 Fort Hood officials were removed from their leadership positions at the base.