Suspect fathered dead soldier's baby

The Fort Bragg sergeant charged in the death of a pregnant soldier was the father of her unborn baby but married to someone else, police said Wednesday.

Fayetteville Police Chief Tom Bergamine said during a news conference that Sgt. Edgar Patino, 27, admitted fathering Spc. Megan Touma's baby. Touma, 23, was seven months pregnant when found dead in a motel bathtub last month.

Patino, who was arrested at his home Tuesday, acknowledged being in Touma's hotel room June13, the last day her hotel room key was used, police said. He made his first court appearance Wednesday and asked for a public defense attorney, but one was not immediately assigned.

Police also believe Patino was the author of letters sent to The Fayetteville Observer and police from a person who claimed to be a serial killer responsible for Touma's death. Patino purchased a typewriter the day before the letters were sent, police said. The newspaper gave its letter to police.

The letter featured a circle-and-cross drawing that was the same as one used a generation ago by San Francisco's infamous Zodiac Killer. Authorities said a similar symbol had also been drawn in lipstick on the motel room mirror.

“We feel there was significant evidence that Patino published those letters, mailed those letters to throw off the investigation,” said police Sgt. Chris Corcione.

Touma's family said in a statement they were “heartened by the arrest of a suspect in the case” and appreciated the “thoughts and prayers, many from strangers,” that have helped them cope with Touma's death.

She was the third servicewoman found dead recently near N.C. military bases.