Local News

Female Army officer missing from burned apartment

Posted July 10, 2008 12:26 p.m. EDT
Updated July 11, 2008 12:19 a.m. EDT

— Fayetteville police were looking Thursday for a missing Army lieutenant from Fort Bragg whose apartment was found partially burned in what they called a case of arson.

Police withheld the name of the female officer and her unit, though she was believed to be assigned to Womack Army Medical Center. People from her unit came to check on her Thursday morning after she didn't show up for work, and they found the apartment had been burned and the lieutenant was gone.

Several hours after their investigation began, officials ordered the multi-unit building evacuated because, they said, they feared fire could break out again. There was a smell of gasoline at the building, and police classified the case as arson.

Residents were told they would have to be away at least overnight Thursday.

"It's an arson and a missing person (case). That's what we're investigating," Fayetteville police Capt. David Houp said.

The call for police to come to the Morganton Place Apartments, at 146 Wayah Creek Drive off Morganton Road, came in just after 9 a.m. No fire had been reported overnight, and police said it apparently burned itself out before anyone noticed.

Neighbor Roland Petty said he had seen a man running from the area late Wednesday night and smelled smoke in the area. He didn't identify it as coming from the building, however.

Yellow police tape cordoned off the apartment parking lot as officers investigated. They found the soldier’s car there and towed it away for detectives to examine..

Police also found a window shattered and two or three bedrooms had been burned. A police report says the soldier was going through a divorce, but detectives would not confirm Thursday afternoon that they wanted to question her husband about arson. Agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the State Bureau of Investigation were at the scene with Fayetteville police.

It was not known if Thursday was the first day the lieutenant missed at work, and police would not say whether they thought the woman was in danger.

This incident follows the discovery last month of a Fort Bragg soldier dead in her hotel room in Fayetteville after she had not reported for duty with her unit.

The death of Spc. Megan Touma of Cold Spring, Ky., is being treated as a homicide.