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Report: Pregnant Soldier Found Dead Had Fiance at Fort Bragg|
Friday , June 27, 2008
The fiance of a pregnant soldier found dead in a hotel bathtub in North Carolina is stationed at Fort Bragg, according to The Fayetteville Observer.
Police still don't know how Army Spc. Megan Lynn Touma died, though they have called her death suspicious. The state medical examiner in Chapel Hill received Touma's body this week and an investigation is ongoing. An autopsy report will not be released Friday and may take up to 60 days, FoxNews.com has learned.
Spc. Breana Cooper, who serves as a dental specialist with the Army, met Touma, 23, when they both were assigned to U.S. Army Dental Activity in Germany. Touma's fiance had come up in conversation, the Fayetteville Observer reported.
"She mentioned him. That he was from Fort Bragg and that's where she was going," Cooper told the Fayetteville Observer. "She was excited and everything."
Cooper, who told the paper she had known Touma for nearly two years, said she did not know the fiance's name or rank. She was also unsure how long they had been dating or if he had been stationed in Germany during Touma's assignment there.
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Touma, who was seven months pregnant when she was found decomposing in a bathtub on Saturday at the Fairfield Inn in Fayetteville, N.C., had discussed marriage, according to Cooper. Her fiance had already given her a ring, she said.
"It was a very nice diamond set," Cooper told the Fayetteville Observer.
According to Cooper, Touma had selected "Tristan," or possibly "Tristen," as the unborn child's name. Cooper said she assumed that the unidentified man was the father of Touma's child.
"I don't remember exactly if that's what she said," Cooper told the Fayetteville Observer.
No information was available on a possible boyfriend being stationed at Fort Bragg, a spokeswoman for the 18th Airborne Corps told the paper. Soldiers are required only to disclose a change in marital status, the spokeswoman said.
Cooper, 21, had her first child, Gavin, five months ago and shared the experience with Touma, the paper reported.
"She asked about the delivery. Just being a mom," Cooper told the Fayetteville Observer. "I kept telling her how awesome being a mom was."
On Wednesday, Touma's ex-husband El Sayed Touma — who wasn't the father of the unborn baby — blasted the Army for failing to check on her before considering her AWOL, or absent without leave.
"She was left in the room for two days, and the Army said she was AWOL," El Sayed Touma told FOX affiliate WRAL TV. "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."
The Toumas met at Fort Drum, N.Y., when both were stationed there. They were married for three years but divorced when the stress of living in separate countries became too much for them, WRAL reported.
Meanwhile, Fort Bragg officials said Wednesday they were investigating why Touma wasn't reported missing sooner.
"We're shocked, first and foremost. It's always sad when you lose a soldier. And on top of that, here's a beautiful young woman who is seven months pregnant. It's sad and deeply troubling," said Maj. Angela Funaro, a Fort Bragg spokeswoman.
Touma missed an Army exercise June 16, but wasn't reported absent without leave after 24 hours, in accordance with Army regulations. Funaro said the Army was investigating why the procedures weren't followed.
Touma's relatives have declined comment from their home in Kansas, said family spokeswoman Deb Skidmore.
"They ask that everyone leave them alone and let them grieve," Skidmore said.
The Fayetteville Police Department is investigating the death because Touma's body was found off-post, and the military is cooperating, Funaro said.
The Army Criminal Investigation Command is also looking into the case, Funaro said.
Col. John W. Etzenbach, her former commander in Germany, said he will remember Touma as selfless, outgoing and loyal. She was "lighthearted" and was "ecstatic" about becoming a mom, he said.
Touma is the second pregnant service member to die under suspicious circumstances in North Carolina in recent months. Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach was reported missing and later found dead near Camp Lejeune in January. A fellow Marine, Cpl. Cesar Laurean, has been charged in her death and is awaiting extradition from Mexico.
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