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Police: Pregnant soldier's death a homicide

Posted June 30, 2008

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— Police said Monday they are treating the death of a pregnant Fort Bragg soldier as a homicide, and they are working with Army investigators to solve the case.

The Army began investigating the case over the weekend, and Spc. Megan Lynn Touma's body was sent to the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Washington, D.C., for a second autopsy.

There was no word Monday on when the results of the autopsy conducted by the State Medical Examiner's Office would be released.

Touma, 23, was found dead June 21 in a room at the Fairfield Inn near Cross Creek Mall. She was seven months pregnant, police said.

Fayetteville police had previously called her death "suspicious." Few details of the investigation have been released.

A military official said a soldier at Fort Bragg is a person of interest in Touma's death. Authorities haven't released the person's name.

"U.S. Army CID (Criminal Investigation Command) joined the investigation at the request of the Fayetteville Police Department and were already conducting a collateral investigation into the death upon the initial notification. The Fayetteville Police Department was and still is the lead investigative agency, because the death occurred in our jurisdiction," police said in a statement released Monday.

"CID Agents overseas are better able to conduct interviews of personnel at Megan Touma’s last command and pass along vital information to the case as both agencies proceed," the statement continued.

The Army is focusing its efforts on a military base in Bamberg, Germany, where Touma was stationed before moving being assigned to Fort Bragg three weeks ago. Several soldiers at Fort Bragg have also been interviewed in the case, authorities said.

Neither police nor Army officials would comment on whether on soldier considered a person of interest had been stationed at Bamberg with Touma.

Lt. Col. John Clearwater, a spokesman for the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, said the male soldier is a training student at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School located at Fort Bragg. The center falls under the command of special operations.

The person of interest is training at a school where special operations ranging from raids to reconstruction projects are taught, Clearwater said. The soldier is studying psychological operations.

Clearwater said the soldier has not been charged. He declined to say more, citing the Fayetteville Police Department as the lead agency in the investigation.

The Fayetteville Observer has also released a letter, dated June 17, from a person purporting to be the killer of Touma.

The letter carries a symbol used by the Zodiac killer, a serial killer from the 1960s who was never caught. The newspaper said an anonymous source told its reporters that police found an identical sign in lipstick on the bathroom mirror of Touma's room.

Fayetteville police told the paper that although the letter is valuable evidence, they believe it was written to mislead investigators and the public.

Investigators seized two section of drywall containing a red substance suspected to be blood from Touma's room, according to the search warrants. Swabbings of DNA and other items were also taken from the hotel room and a rented Chevrolet Trailblazer parked outside.

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 Bamberg and at Fort Drum, N.Y., officials said.

She attended two required formations that day but wasn't seen on base after that. The Army is investigating to determine why Touma wasn't declared absent without leave and whether anyone tried to check on her.

Touma was staying at the Fayetteville motel while she looked for off-base living quarters, Funaro said.

A maintenance supervisor at the hotel found her body in the bathtub of her room after going inside shortly before she was scheduled to check out, according to the application for a search warrant filed in the case. Hotel workers hadn't entered the room in four days because a "Do Not Disturb" sign had been hanging outside, the document stated.

Although some of the furniture was displaced, the document did not indicate that there was evidence of a struggle.

13 Comments

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  • Myra Jul 1, 2008

    panther - Excuse me! If you have no dog in this fight, why are you so bothered about my concerns, and questions?

    87 people in North Carolina murdered due to Domestic Violence in 2007. Domestic Violence in North Carolina is a Class 1A Misdemeanor; it is not a felony unless the victim dies. I just sent my plea to the North Carolina Senate Judiciary Committee II pleading with them to make Domestic Violence Protective Order Violations a FELONY after the offender is convicted of violating the order twice. Currently, offenders get to violate the Protective Order 3 times before it's a Felony. They are voting on it Tuesday.

    NC doesn't count the murdered fetus as a homicide, so Baby Lauterbach (Camp Lejeune) was not counted in the 2007 murders, just as Baby Touma won't be counted in 2008.

    Hopefully, you will never have a dog in this fight or one like it, but Fayetteville NC made the list of one of the most dangerous cities in America for 2007.

  • Panther Jun 30, 2008

    Myra,
    Lighten up and let the Army and Fayetteville Police do their job. I am sure when it’s finished it will be in every publication to include the AP. I think that details are being withheld for a reason. It could be that they do not want the killer spooked or know what they know. My philosophy is to wait and see; after all I don’t have a dog in this fight.

  • Myra Jun 30, 2008

    Curiosity is not a bad thing; how many of you critics slow down when passing even the smallest wreck?

    Why did Fort Bragg request a second autopsy to be accomplished by the Army? Does Fort Bragg feel the North Carolina Medical Examiner is incompetent? Do they need a second opinon (or different) cause of death? Which autopsy will record the official cause of death on the Death Certificate for Specialist Megan Touma?

    Why was the memorial for Spec Touma was closed to the public?

    I'm still stuck on the fact she signed in June 12th to her unit and no one missed her coming to duty for 9 days. I'm beyond stunned that no one was assigned to assist Spec Touma with inprocessing. As for her chosing to live off post; remember the disgusting photos of the enlisted barracks posted by an angry Father? Self-explanatory. Those quarters have been unfit for humans for a long time. ARMY WRONG!

  • canes017 Jun 30, 2008

    "well canes, you apparently read the story.....if you arent a friend or investigating the case, why'd you need to read it? why'd YOU need to know? are you a sadistic, disgusting person like the rest of us?"

    To put it quite simply: No, I'm not. Its one thing to read a news story that makes a general summary of something like a murder or a car accident; there is nothing wrong with wanting to know a general summary of a murder or wreck as warns the public that a killer is loose in the area, or that a wreck has occurred and can cause delays. It is a TOTALLY different story however when one wants the details about what happened to a body in a wreck or wanting to know the specific details of a murder or a body. I find it disgusting that news outlets seek to unlock autopsy reports in cases like this and poor Eve Carson when knowing such details helps the public in no way, shape or form, especially in cases where the killers have already been caught and there is no threat to the public.

  • ShareTheRoad Jun 30, 2008

    well canes, you apparently read the story.....if you arent a friend or investigating the case, why'd you need to read it? why'd YOU need to know? are you a sadistic, disgusting person like the rest of us?

    if this was my friend/relative, i wouldnt want it all over the news either but guess what? thats why its called news.... if its none of the public's business, maybe they shouldn't have run the article in the first place. what could we 'possibly gain' in knowing anything about this case, whether it's all the gruesome details, or bits and pieces of a very strange story.

  • canes017 Jun 30, 2008

    Really pikemom? I'm not trying to play God, I'm trying to be decent. What kind of a sedistic individual needs to know gruesome details to someone's death? What can you possibly gain from knowing exactly what happened to her and how here body was upon being discovered?

    You aren't investigating the crime, you aren't friend or family, so what makes you think you're entitled to know? And don't spray first amendment talk out there; if the first amendment allows someones death to be shown in the news, then I have a right to walk into your home and film all that I see to be plastered all over the news.

    Furthermore, WHY do you need to know? I think it is rather disgusting that some people want to know such details. If this happened to your mother/father/child/etc. would you want every last detail out there for the world to see?? Think about the feelings of the family and the other people involved before you indulge in your own sick wants; you're coming across as woefully self centered.

  • tsquaring Jun 30, 2008

    Police think she was murdered? I wonder what tipped them off.

  • jaguar3 Jun 30, 2008

    Who is the boyfriend here? Is he the suspected interest? Who is the baby's daddy? She asked to be transferred here for some reason, was it to get away from the baby's daddy, or is the baby's daddy here. Was the the boyfriend not the baby's daddy and found out someone else was? How did the symbol get on the mirror in her room and then sent in a letter admitting the homocide. Did she put the symbol on the mirror and send the letter with the same symbol on it herself, NO, wouldn't think so. The letter may play a pivotal role in this young pregnant women's death. Too many young pregnant women dying. We pray for the families.

  • PikeMom4real Jun 30, 2008

    Cane,who died and left you to play god.Here you are telling people what they need to know or don't need to know.Geez.Last time I looked arouns all WRAL poster were human.That gives us the right to be curious.If you are not neither /or then ignore my post back to you .

  • canes017 Jun 30, 2008

    Could it be that they don't want to release everything they know because it could jeopardize the case? Come on folks, we don't need to know things like was the tub full, or is this an army cover up issue; all we need to know right now is that the proper authorities are on the job, and all of the information will be available once it is no longer an integral part of catching the killer.

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