Local News

Warrant: Pregnant soldier found dead in tub

Posted June 26, 2008 10:53 a.m. EDT
Updated June 27, 2008 9:24 a.m. EDT

— 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 . 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.