Amanda Gonzales

Amanda Gonzales A Former soldier charged with killing pregnant army private 20 years ago. Authorities said they’ve found the killer of a four-months pregnant private found dead in her barracks over 20 years ago.

A phone call from the Federal Bureau of Investigation was finally received by Gloria Bates and her husband Michael on Thursday. This was a call that the Bates have been anticipating for more than 21 years.

During an interview with ABC News, Gloria Bates recalled a conversation she had with an FBI agent in which the agent informed her, “We just want to let you know that we’ve made an arrest in the case of your daughter, Private First-Class Amanda Gonzales.”

Since Gonzales was only four years old, Michael has been assisting in her upbringing as she is his granddaughter.

According to the Department of Justice, Shannon L. Wilkerson, a former service member who was released from active duty in 2004, was taken into custody on Thursday. Wilkerson served in the armed services. Gonzales, who was 19 years old at the time, was stationed at a former United States Army base in Hanau, Germany, in the year 2001. He is charged of killing her. Gonzales was employed as a chef at the military installation. After she failed to report for work as scheduled, soldiers forced their way into her barracks and discovered her dead corpse inside.

Amanda had a reputation for sticking up for others, her mother says.
Amanda had a reputation for sticking up for others, her mother says.

Her death was ruled a homicide by asphyxiation. She was four months pregnant, according to the FBI.

Gloria Bates never stopped thinking that the killer would be caught, even though the cold case had been going on for over 20 years. She and her husband wrote letters to politicians and TV shows like “Dr. Phil” and “America’s Most Wanted” for many years. When she went to Gonzales’ grave, Gloria Bates would tell her, “I haven’t given up.”

Six days before the arrest was made public, she went to the cemetery and put a new flag on Gonzales’ grave. Gloria Bates would tell her daughter, “I’m still here, and I’ll still be here to finish this for you.”

Her family hopes the tragedy they suffered will help bring about changes for female soldiers in the Army.

Michael Bates said that people from all over the country, including people who served with Gonzales, have sent messages of support to his family.

The Bates say that investigators told them that after Gonzales died, Wilkerson went to a memorial service for her at an Army base in Germany.

Wilkerson has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, according to court documents. He could spend his whole life in jail if he is found guilty.

Her mother says Amanda earned the nickname “firecracker” in the military for being outspoken and sticking up for others.

Wilkerson’s lawyer wouldn’t talk to ABC News, but his office did say that he was expected to show up at his detention hearing on March 3 in the northern district of Florida.

Amanda grew up in Madisonville, Texas, and her family says that she had a lot of friends there. In high school, she was known for being kind and standing up for classmates who were being picked on.

Gloria Bates said, “She was their mother hen.”

In 2000, she surprised her family by showing up at their house with an Army recruiter to tell them she was joining. She planned to use her G.I. Bill to pay for college and become a physical therapist for kids.

Amanda’s stepfather says she wanted to use her G.I. Bill to go to college for pediatric physical therapy.

When she joined the military, she got the nickname “Firecracker” because she was known for caring about other people. Gloria Bates said, “If she saw someone being mistreated, she would step in and just go off.”

A few years ago, the Bates were interested in another case of a female service member being killed.

Vanessa Guillen, an Army specialist at Fort Hood who was 20 years old, was last seen in April 2020. After two months, her body was found near the Leon River in Benton, Texas. Investigators think that a fellow soldier, Aaron Robinson, killed Guillen with a hammer and then helped his girlfriend, Cecily Aguilar, cut up and get rid of her body.

Robinson killed himself when police showed up. Later, Aguilar pled guilty to a number of federal charges. Before she was killed, Guillen’s family said she told them a boss was bothering her. Her death led people all over the country to call for changes in the Army.

The similarities were too much for Amanda’s family to handle. Michael Bates said that both of them were about the same age, were Hispanic, and said that male soldiers in their unit had harassed or bullied them.

Gloria Bates said, “When I saw her on TV, I told Mike, “That’s her, that’s Amanda.”

Gloria and Guillen’s mother helped each other out by leaning on each other.

Gloria Bates said, “I told her not to give up, to keep going, and to be a voice.” “Don’t worry, we’ll get through this. You want justice for your daughter, and I know we’ll do it if you can do it.”

Michael Bates said that he hopes that the terrible things that have happened to their families will help to make things better for female soldiers.

Gonzales’ real father passed away in 2021, so he never got to see his daughter’s case solved. DeAnn Lucio, Gonzales’s cousin, told ABC News that he was eager to see his daughter.

She said, “I know that they are together and that they are happy in heaven because he wanted to be with her more than anything else.”

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