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Warrant: Pregnant soldier found dead in tub

Posted June 26, 2008
Updated June 27, 2008

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— A motel maintenance supervisor found the body of a pregnant Fort Bragg soldier in the bathtub of her room last weekend, according to a search warrant.

Spc. Megan Lynn Touma, 23, was found Saturday morning in a room at the Fairfield Inn on Morganton Road after guests complained of an odor coming from inside. She was seven months pregnant, police said.

The decomposed condition of her body has made it difficult to determine the cause of death, police said, so her body was sent to the State Medical Examiner's Office in Chapel Hill for an autopsy.

A spokeswoman for the medical examiner's office said Thursday that toxicology results were pending and that the autopsy results haven't been released.

The Fayetteville Police Department has called Touma's death suspicious but has released no details of the investigation.

The assistant maintenance supervisor at the Fairfield Inn told police that no one had been in Touma's room for four days because a "Do Not Disturb" sign was posted on the door, according to an application for a warrant to search the room. The supervisor said he went into the room shortly before Touma was scheduled to check out, and he found her body in the tub, the document said. It does not reveal whether she appeared to have been bathing or was clothed in the tub.

The document said the bed was pushed out slightly from the wall and a nightstand and lamp were askew. There was no mention of any evidence of a possible struggle.

A set of keys for a rented Chevrolet Trailblazer was on a dresser, according to the document. The SUV was parked in the motel lot, according to the document, but it didn't note whether Touma had rented it.

No information was released on what evidence investigators collected from the room or the SUV.

Fort Bragg officials said Touma was assigned to the base June 12. A dental specialist from Cold Spring, Ky., who had been in the Army for five years, she previously was assigned to Army dental clinics in Germany and at Fort Drum, N.Y., officials said.

She signed into Fort Bragg's 19th Replacement Company at 2 a.m. that day and attended two required formations at 6:15 a.m. and 3 p.m., officials said.

The replacement company's processing of new soldiers arriving at the post typically lasts between five and eight days, after which they're assigned to a unit. Touma was going to be assigned to a Fort Bragg dental clinic, officials said.

When Touma missed a formation June 16, she wasn't reported absent without leave after 24 hours, in accordance with Army regulations, officials said.

Fort Bragg spokeswoman Maj. Angela Funaro said each unit commander has the discretion to declare a soldier AWOL after 24 hours. As an Army specialist, Touma was required to report to her unit daily.

If Touma had been deemed AWOL, military and local police would have been notified.

The Army is investigating to determine why Touma wasn't declared AWOL and whether anyone tried to check on her, Funaro said. The investigation is being led by Fort Bragg's commanding general and was expected to last 14 days, she said.

“We don’t know what members of that unit did or didn’t do,” she said. “It appears as though the unit did not have positive accountability of her.”

Touma's ex-husband, El Sayed Touma, said the Army had told Megan Touma's family that she was AWOL but that the family didn't believe she would go AWOL and was worried because they hadn't heard from her recently.

“She was left in the room for two days, and the Army said she was AWOL," El Sayed Touma told WCSC-TV in Charleston, S.C., where he lives. "They didn't even bother to go check on her in the motel where she stayed. I mean, the Army knows that she stayed in that hotel. They put her in that hotel."

Fort Bragg officials weren't aware that she was staying at the Fairfield Inn, Funaro said. "We did not put her there," she said.

The Toumas met at Fort Drum, in upstate New York, when they were both stationed there. They were married for three years and divorced last year.

El Sayed Touma said he and his ex-wife remained close, noting she planned to name her baby after him.

Megan Touma was staying at the Fayetteville motel while she looked for off-base living quarters, Funaro said. It was unknown whether the room was registered in her name.

Funaro said she Touma requested in February to be assigned to Fort Bragg, but she wasn't aware of any relationships the soldier might have had with others in the area.

The Army is cooperating with Fayetteville police, providing access to people to help establish a time line of Touma's whereabouts, she said.

Touma's family has declined comment from their home in Kansas, said Deb Skidmore, a spokeswoman at Fort Riley, about 55 miles west of Topeka, Kan.

"They ask that everyone leave them alone and let them grieve," Skidmore said.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • tarheelblue919 Jun 27, 2008

    seems as if the military need to start looking into soldiers that just "dont show" or turn up missing. this woman was murdered and another soldier a few weeks ago died in the woods during an excercise. not placing blame here at all, but maybe when someone doesnt show like their supposed to they could just go check and make sure the person is ok...these soldiers that serve iur country deserve to be safe here in their homeland....so sad. praying for her family.

  • fl2nc2ca2md2nc Jun 26, 2008

    Very sad... My prayers are with her family and friends.

  • xchief661 Jun 26, 2008

    So sad for this girl and her family and loved ones. Condolences to you all at the loss of the child and her mother. Our prayers are with you.

  • airbornemonty Jun 26, 2008

    Since everyone here seems to have a theory, here is mine:

    1. The young woman has just arrived in Fort Bragg, she is pregnant and she doesn't know anyone in Fayetteville so she is under tremendous stress and that is understandable.

    2. While in the motel room she begins to feel sick so she makes her way to the bathroom knocking the lamp askew, perhaps she'll feel better after taking a bath so she fills the bathtub, gets in and suffers a heart attack and dies. Two or three days later the water in the tub has by this time drained away and she is found in the empty bathtub under mysterious circumstances...well anyway that's my theory.

  • bronzegoddess40 Jun 26, 2008

    Me too Ladyblue.

  • rrnjmm1999 Jun 26, 2008

    betty--i was in the military..check your facts!!

  • ladyblue Jun 26, 2008

    I too am waitng to see the faces of posters if they should find that this woman died from other than "murderous" means.....I have had the feeling all along that this case is no way like the other case where the Marine was murdered.....

  • miketroll3572 Jun 26, 2008

    Why didn't Sayed check on her if he is so concerned? Right on Choirgirl....

  • discowhale Jun 26, 2008

    save yer breath. That's been said a dozen times in the last three days, no one is listening.

    if your referring to this case and the one in Jacksonville, one is Army, one is Marines. The bottom line kids is that, the military is just a microcosm of regular society. What is amazing is that no one ever sees that these things happen far less among military personnel than among civilians.

    You're dealing with two huge bases at Bragg and LeJuenne. As far as I know, we have one confirmed murder by one Marine on another. That alone is unusual. This one is still an unknown, but even if it is a murder, look at the facts.

    In any city, with a population the size of the combined populations of these two bases, there will be many more than just two murders over 6 or 8 months. Or just look at the murder rates in our area. Raleigh alone has 15 murders in 2008.

    Percentage wise I'll guarantee you that Raleigh doesn't have 7 times the population of those combined bases.

  • johnsod27330 Jun 26, 2008

    Why do a lot of people think that the Military keeps track of service members 24 hours, 7 days a week. That just does not happen in the States especially when a Soldier/Sailor or Marine is let off for the next four days. Also, in today's military welfare checks on service members off post are not usually not conducted. A supervisor has no authority to go check on a service members residence in the civilian community. Lastly, a service member can be reported as AWOL after 24 hours of not reporting in. After 30 days they are then listed as a deserter. The only thing that happens when a Soldier is listed as AWOL is they are listed in the personnel system and police computer systems as AWOL. There are no special alerts put out or anything like that. The only way an AWOL/Deserting service member would be caught would be if they were stopped by law enforcement and had their names run. It is not like the old days when AWOL/Deserters were actively looked for.