Pvt. Gregory Wedel-Morales was declared a deserter a month after he went missing from Fort Hood in Texas. It was only during the course of the investigation into Sfc. Vanessa Guillen’s disappearance that Wedel-Morales’s remains were found -- in a field not far from Guillen’s. Foul play is now suspected.
When Wedel-Morales disappeared in August of 2019, he was days away from separating from the Army after four years of service and deployments to Kuwait and South Korea. He was last seen on August 19 driving a 2018 Black KIA Rio. The vehicle was recovered in January.
Wedel-Morales’s disappearance went largely uninvestigated for nine months -- until Guillen went missing from the same installation. The Army repeatedly told Wedel-Morales’s family that he had deserted. And the Army doesn’t track down deserters.
“The military failed him by not looking,” his mother, Kimberly Wedel, told The Washington Post. “They just assumed the worst and let it go.”
Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID) offered a $15,000 reward for information regarding Wedel-Morales’s disappearance in the spring -- around the same time that Guillen went missing. His remains were found on June 22 through an anonymous tip. Guillen’s remains were found two days later in the same area.
The reward for information has since been increased to $25,000 -- but the Wedel family has said the Army did not search for Wedel-Morales’s remains urgently enough.
With his name removed from the list of deserters, Wedel-Morales is now eligible for a military funeral. The investigation into what actually happened to the soldier is still ongoing.
“While no words or gestures can make up for the loss of a family member, friend, or fellow Soldier like Gregory Morales, we hope that this news will comfort his family and the friends he served with in this time of terrible grief,” said Maj. Gen. Jeffery Broadwater, commanding general of the 1st Cavalry Division.