'They failed us,' Vanessa Guillén’s fiancé appears on 20/20, his first TV appearance since her death

click to enlarge Juan Cruz, Guillén’s fiancé, recounts happy experiences with the slain soldier on ABC's 2020. - ABC
Juan Cruz, Guillén’s fiancé, recounts happy experiences with the slain soldier on ABC's 2020.
Though the news of U.S. Army soldier Vanessa Guillén’s death resulted in proposals for new legislation and the suspension — or firing — of 21 soldiers, Guillén’s fiancé is still searching for answers.

“They failed us since the beginning,” Juan Cruz, Guillén’s fiancé, said on ABC's 20/20 in his first-ever television interview Friday. “How can something like that happen on military base? They’re taking care of us, protecting us. Who’s taking care of them?”

Cruz, who proposed to Guillén in March of 2020, last week appeared on the news show to share his frustrations with the process following Guillén’s disappearance and murder last spring spring near Killeen-area Army installation Fort Hood.

The two-hour program also featured exclusive interviews with Betavious “Tay” Hightower and Ryan “Cj” Landy, soldiers from Vanessa’s unit who say they knew about the sexual harassment she experienced.

The soldiers opened up about their conversation with Vanessa’s killer, Spc. Aaron Robinson. When it was discovered that Robinson was the last person Guillén worked with in the arms room on the day she disappeared, Hightower and Landy called Robinson for answers.

Robinson denied contact with Guillén on the day she disappeared.

April 22, 2020 was the last time Guillén was seen alive. Her remains were found along a Central Texas river weeks later. In July of last year, police moved to arrest Robinson in connection with her disappearance, however, he shot and killed himself before he could be apprehended.

The Army’s Chief of Staff for the U.S. Army Forces Command. Maj. Gen. Gene LeBoeuf told 20/20 that there were several factors that threw off the investigation in its early stages. LeBoeuf admitted investigators received “bad information” such as errors in eyewitness reports, but insisted that, “Specialist Robinson was a person of interest early on in the investigation… He was questioned very early on in this process.”

The circumstances surrounding Guillén's death grabbed nationwide headlines and led to calls for the military to reform internal procedures on handling sexual assault allegations within its ranks. In September of 2020, Rep. Jackie Speier, (D-CA) introduced the “I Am Vanessa Guillén Act,” which aims to overhaul how the Department of Defense handles sexual harassment and assault.

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