Local News

Army: No standard procedure for absent soldiers

Posted July 2, 2008 6:02 p.m. EDT

— Police continued Wednesday to investigate the death of a pregnant Fort Bragg soldier.

Spc. Megan Lynn 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.

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.

Army spokesman Tom McCollum told WRAL there is no Army-wide policy on what commanders should do if a soldier fails to show up for formation. The unit commander has discretion to declare a person AWOL. Fort Bragg is looking into its policies, and expects some sort of resolution in about two weeks.

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.

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 a 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.