Local News

Autopsy: Pregnant soldier died of asphyxiation

Posted December 19, 2008 2:28 p.m. EST
Updated December 19, 2008 3:19 p.m. EST

— A pregnant Fort Bragg soldier whose body was found at a Fayetteville motel six months ago died of asphyxiation, according to an autopsy report released Friday.

The body of Spc. Megan Touma, 23, was found June 21 in a room at the Fairfield Inn near Cross Creek Mall. Investigators said they believe she was killed seven to eight days earlier.

Sgt. Edgar Patino, 27, of 374 Lairgate Lane in Hope Mills, has been charged with first-degree murder in her death. He is being held in the Cumberland County Detention Center without bond.

Touma was pregnant, and Patino was the father of her unborn child, police said.

The autopsy report confirmed Touma was carrying a son at the time of her death.

The cause of death was most likely asphyxiation either by strangulation or drowning, according to the autopsy report. She had bruising on her neck and was found submerged in a bathtub, the report states.

The medical examiner noted that the decomposed state of her body might have destroyed evidence of other injuries that could have caused her death.

Patino, who joined the Army in 2004, was assigned to the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare School at Fort Bragg, part of Army Special Operations, in December 2007 and was being trained in psychological operations.