KILLEEN, Texas — Family members of missing Fort Hood soldier Elder Fernandes met with post officials Sunday again as both parties continue searching for the missing sergeant.
The soldier's family members have been meeting daily with post officials since they arrived last week after receiving word of the disappearance. Fort Hood said finding Fernandes remains "the top priority of the 1st Cavalry Division." They also said they reached out to the family before his disappearance and hope to work with them to find Fernandes.
"His immediate leadership initiated communication with the family before his current disappearance and has met with them daily since their arrival," Fort Hood said in a statement Aug. 23. "We met again with them in person today. We intend to share much information with them as possible. Along with the Family, we want information that will lead to Sgt. Fernandes’ return to the people who care about him."
Soldiers have visited local hotels and hospitals throughout the area along with division motor pools, parking lots, barracks and headquarters buildings, the post said.
On Saturday, Fernandes' family and friends set out to distribute flyers with the sergeant's photo and search areas he often visited in Killeen on Saturday.
Sgt. Fernandes has been missing since Aug. 17. According to Fort Hood, the 23-year-old was last seen by members of his unit at a residence in Killeen.
He did not report to work the following day as scheduled. Fort Hood said they believe Fernandes left on his own accord.
He was last seen wearing a black army physical training T-shirt and shorts with black, orange, and yellow athletic shoes.
"Elder if you see me if you see us," his mother Ailina Fernades, who came down from Massachusetts to Killeen, said. "We are here for you, give me a signal of where you are."
Texas Equusearch searched for Fernandes on Saturday in an area near Cody Poe Road in Killeen, a place they were told he was dropped off at on Aug. 17.
"This could be an area he wandered into," Search Coordinator Mark Rodgers, said. "I don't know what state he was in when he was brought back from the hospital, I don't know who was bringing him back we don't even have confirmation on exactly where he was dropped off."
Crews searched areas that ran from that location to the border of Fort Hood, according to Rodgers.
Late Friday Fort Hood officials confirmed that Fernandes was part of an open "abuse sexual conduct" investigation. They military post said he had been transferred from his unit to "ensure he received the proper care and ensure there were no opportunities for reprisals."
The next day, Aug. 22, the First Cavalry Division released a statement that said foul play was not suspected in Fernandes' disappearance, and they are "concerned for his well-being."
"Our priority remains getting Sgt. Fernandes back with the people that care about him," Justin Redfern, commander of the 553rd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, said in the statement. "We are concerned for his well-being and want him to continue the care he was receiving before he went missing. Our unit and the Army have the resources to help him."