Fort Bragg officials said Wednesday they were investigating why a pregnant soldier who was found dead this week at a Fayetteville motel wasn't reported missing after she was absent from a formation.
The body of Spc. Megan Lynn Touma, 23, was identified Tuesday, two days after she was found dead. Fayetteville police have called the death suspicious, but few details have been released.
“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.
Authorities said in a statement that they do not know the cause of death. Funaro said Touma was divorced in 2007 but that she didn't have further information about the father of Touma's unborn baby or her ex-husband.
The State Medical Examiner's Office in Chapel Hill said it has received Touma's body, but it was unclear when an autopsy report would be released.
Touma signed in to Fort Bragg's 19th Replacement Company on Thursday, June 12, at 2 a.m. and attended two required formations at 6:15 a.m. and 3 p.m. Touma was off the next day.
When she missed a formation Monday, June 16, she 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 arrived at Fort Bragg less than two weeks ago from Germany, where she had been assigned for the past three years as a dental specialist.
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. A barracks room was provided for Touma, but she decided to pay for a hotel room instead, Funaro 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.
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, but calls to the command went unanswered Wednesday.
Col. John 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.
Etzenbach said many of the soldiers in the unit and patients at the clinic relied on her sense of humor to get through hard times.
“Patients who visited the dental clinic frequently complimented her for helping to lighten their spirits during dental clinic visits,” he said.