Killings bring media spotlight to Fayetteville

The slayings of two female soldiers within a month have thrown Fayetteville police under the microscope as countless media outlets push for answers.

Lt. David Sportsman, who works in the department's office of professional standards, has handled the media's calls regarding both the killing of Army Spc. Megan Touma in late June and the more recent killing of 2nd Lt. Holley Wimunc.

“I'm the middle man here,” Sportsman said. “I get called not only during the day but after hours and during the weekend.”

He said the calls come from across the nation, from countless media sources and, at times, from several reporters within the same organization.

“It's pretty difficult to keep up with everything,” Sportsman said. “You spend a lot of time clarifying erroneous information.”

The killings and the attention that has followed have heaped pressure on the department's homicide division.

The division has one sergeant and six detectives, Sportsman said. One of those detectives is deployed with the military, leaving the division shorthanded.

When asked whether the division was inundated with work, Sportsman said, “These two cases didn't help, but we'll get through it.”

The number of open homicide cases the department is working on was unavailable Tuesday.

On Thursday, the remains of a body were found under a bridge in Fayetteville. Police said the race and sex could not be determined yet.

Meanwhile, Sportsman said the media attention is at the highest level it's ever been.

“There's definitely pressure but we don't let the media's wanting to know dictate how much time we take,” he said. “We can't do it overnight; it's not a TV show.”

The media interest began shortly after the death of Touma, whose body was discovered in a Fayetteville hotel room June 21.

National media, including Fox News and CNN, camped out in front of the Fayetteville Police Department for days.

The two killings come less than a year after another N.C. killing involving a woman in the military gained national attention.

Marine Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach's charred remains were found in a shallow grave in December in Jacksonville.

The suspect in the killing, Marine Cpl. Cesar Armando Laurean, fled to Mexico before he was captured and charged with the murder.

Sportsman said the department was no stranger to national attention, comparing the current cases to high-profile murders in 1993 and 1995.

In 1993, Sgt. Kenneth Junior French killed four people in a restaurant and left another seven injured.

In 1995, Randy Lee Meadows, James Norman Burmeister II and Malcolm Wright, all soldiers, were implicated in the killing of two people who were walking in a Fayetteville neighborhood.