FBI: Girlfriend helped Calumet City man dismember and bury female soldier he killed in Texas
The girlfriend of a soldier from Calumet City appeared before a judge Monday on charges she helped him dismember and bury a female soldier he killed with a hammer on an Army base in Texas.
The suspected killer — Army Spc. Aaron David Robinson — shot himself to death July 1 as police were about to arrest him for killing Army Spc. Vanessa Guillen at Fort Hood in a case that’s captured national attention.
Guillen’s family believes Robinson killed her to keep her from filing a sexual harassment complaint against him.
On Monday, Robinson’s girlfriend Cecily Aguilar told a federal judge in Texas she understood the charge she faces: tampering with evidence. “Yeah, sure,” she said, according to KCEN-TV.
Robinson, 20, played varsity football for Thornton Fractional North High School before he joined the Army in 2017. He was a combat engineer at Fort Hood.
Guillen, 20, was a Houston native stationed at the base.
Aguilar, 22, is a civilian who was living in Killeen, Texas, near the base.
At a news conference last week, a lawyer for Guillen’s family said she was “very creeped out” after Robinson watched her in a locker room after she took a shower on the base.
“We believe that Vanessa told him that she was reporting him, and that’s why he bludgeoned her,” attorney Natalie Khawam said.
Guillen’s family is asking for federal legislation to improve how the military deals with sexual harassment.
Army officials said last week that they didn’t have any complaints that Guillen was sexually harassed but were investigating.
After Guillen went missing April 22, the hashtag #IamVanessaGuillen appeared on social media, putting a focus on soldiers’ stories of sexual harassment. On Friday, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said of her case: “We owe it to those who put on the uniform, and to their families, to put an end to sexual harassment and assault in the military, and hold perpetrators accountable.”
According to the FBI, Robinson struck Guillen in the head with a hammer in a weapons room where she was working, then moved her body from the base in a trunk with wheels. The FBI said he picked up Aguilar at the gas station where she worked, and they drove to the Leon River about 20 miles east of the base.
Aguilar is accused of helping Robinson dismember the body with a machete and other tools. They tried to burn the remains before burying them in three shallow graves and, days later, returned and put concrete in the graves, according to the FBI.
Investigators learned Robinson and Aguilar were together on the bank of the Leon River based on their cellphone data.
Guillen’s remains were found on the riverbank June 30.
“Baby they found pieces, they found pieces,” Robinson warned Aguilar in a call after he learned news outlets were reporting remains were unearthed.
After first saying she didn’t know anything about Guillen’s disappearance, Aguilar confessed to helping bury the body, but Robinson fled, fatally shooting himself at about 1:30 a.m. July 1 when police approached him on a street in Killeen, officials said.
A proposal by one of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s closest City Council allies to ban the sale of flavored tobacco products in Chicago stalled in a City Council committee after running into an avalanche of opposition.
Owners of gas stations, convenience stores and tobacco stores — and trade groups representing them — showed up in force at the virtual meeting to accuse the City Council’s Committee on Health and Human Relations of “kicking them when they’re down.”
They argued small businesses are fighting for survival after a double whammy: first, the coronavirus pandemic; then, damage during civil unrest, which came when many were “woefully under-insured.”
The last thing they need, they said, is this ordinance, sponsored by Ald. Matt O’Shea (19th). They called it “legislative over-reach” that would cost them even more business, they said, noting that tobacco products account for 40% of revenue for a typical Chicago gas station — and that 52% of that tobacco revenue comes from flavored tobacco products.
“This is the equivalent to kicking this industry while they’re down. You not only lose out on flavored tobacco sales to adults. You lose a significant driver of other business. When people buy tobacco, they buy other things. So the business loses out on all of those sales. The city loses out on all of the revenue,” said Tanya Triche Dawood, vice president and general counsel for the Illinois Retail Merchants Association.
Dawood acknowledged there is “absolutely . . . an issue with teen vaping” but said it can be solved by “identifying products that are attractive to teens” and banning those — not by “taking products away from adults” like “tobacco- and mentholflavored vapes,” she said.
“I’m not aware of any data that shows that pipe tobacco is gaining in popularity with teens. Neither is chew. Or even menthol cigarettes. But all of these products are included in this proposal,” Dawood said.
Riley King said he owns several stores, some just blocks away from border suburbs.
“This is just one more nail in our coffin as far as being able to survive, business-wise . . . . This is just yet another product you’re taking away from our customers . . . . With the COVID issue and with minimum wage just going up last week, it’s becoming harder and harder to survive,” King said.
After the hearing, O’Shea acknowledged he has “a lot of work to do” to build support.
He said he was open to changes in response to opposition aired during Monday’s hearing, which included favorable testimony from public health experts.
But the alderman argued “this nexis between COVID and tobacco” is a huge problem that must be addressed.
Puppy-mill loophole closed
A legal loophole that has allowed pet shops to thumb their noses at Chicago’s 2014 puppy mill ordinance was slammed shut on Monday after a heartfelt debate.
Six years ago, the City Council moved to cut off the pipeline of puppies for sale in Chicago that come from for-profit breeders condemned as puppy mills.
On Monday, the City Council’s Committee on Health and Human Relations moved to close a loophole that has allowed pet shops to get around that ordinance by forming what Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) has called “phony rescue organizations.”
The ordinance advanced allows pet shops to provide space to an animal shelter or rescue organization to house and display dogs, cats and rabbits for adoption.
But it also states: “The pet shop shall not have any ownership or monetary interest in the animals displayed for adoption. The animals may only be transferred to an adopting individual for a nominal adoption fee.”
Army Spc. Aaron David Robinson
Spc. Vanessa Guillen. PROVIDED
Ald. Matt O’Shea