Long Beach

21-Year-Old Long Beach Soldier Found Dead at Fort Hood in Texas

Details about the cause of Pvt. Ana Basaldua Ruiz's death were not available, but Fort Hood officials say there is no evidence so far to suspect foul play.

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A 21-year-old soldier from Long Beach died this week at Fort Hood, the same Texas Army base where 20-year-old soldier Vanessa Guillén was murdered nearly three years ago.

Pvt. Ana Basaldua Ruiz, a combat engineer, died Monday, according to a statement from the 1st Cavalry Division. Details about a cause of death were not provided in the statement.

Her father, Ubaldo Basaldua of Belmont Heights, says he believes she was a victim of sexual harassment.

The Army Criminal Investigation Division is "investigating the facts and circumstances surrounding her death," according to the statement. Fort Hood said Thursday there was no evidence so far of "foul play."

"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 said in Thursday's statement.

Basaldua Ruiz served with the division for the past 15 months.

Her father said he talked to her the day before she died.

"She told me she felt bad…frustrated and tired," Basaldua said.

An emotional Basaldua recounted the last moments he talked with his daughter saying she told him she was feeling down and frustrated, but he couldn’t imagine she would kill herself. 

Neither can Ana Fernandas' mother, who lives in Mexico. She spoke with NBC sister station Telemundo.

“They informed me that Fernanda hanged herself,” mother Alejandra Ruiz Zarco said. “But to be honest, for me, it’s inconceivable.”

Ana Fernandas' friends on base, who didn’t want their face shown, told Telemundo that she was being sexual harassed by a superior.

“We are aware of some stressors in Ana’s life, not tied to harassment,” Lt. Gen. Sean Bernabe said. “I know CID will investigate those stressors fully.”

LULAC, the League of United Latin American Citizens, wants an outside, independent investigation.

"A loss of any one of our Soldiers is a tragedy and it is no different in the death of Private Ana Basaldua Ruiz. Our hearts and thoughts go out to the family, friends and colleagues of Ana," said Col. Christopher Dempsey, commander, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. "We have remained in constant contact with both parents of Private Basaldua Ruiz, and will continue to keep them updated."

In an earlier statement Lt. Col. Patrick Sullivan described Basaldua Ruiz as "an exceptional teammate that will truly be missed."

Her death comes nearly three years after Guillén vanished from the base in April 2020. Guillén's remains were found near a river two months later.

The soldier suspect in Guillén's death later died by suicide as police closed in to arrest him. A woman identified by authorities as his girlfriend pleaded guilty to federal charges in November connected to the disposal of Guillén’s body and lying to investigators.

Before her disappearance, Guillén indicated to family members that she had been sexually harassed by a supervisor.

Guillén's case spawned a social media campaign by survivors of sexual abuse and harassment in the military. Some shared their accounts using the #IAmVanessaGuillén hashtag.

An independent review determined that the command climate at Fort Hood created a "permissive environment for sexual assault and sexual harassment." Investigations led to the removal of 14 base leaders in December 2020.

Key parts of the I Am Vanessa Guillen Act became, including legal reforms to help and protect victims of sexual assault in the military, became law in December 2021.

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