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Soldier charged in Touma's death


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Soldier charged in Touma's death

By Drew Brooks

Staff writer

More than five weeks after finding Spc. Megan Touma’s body in a motel bathtub, Fayetteville police have charged another soldier with her death.

Police would not comment on the relationship between Touma and the soldier, Sgt. Edgar Patino Lopez. Touma was seven months pregnant when she died.

Her uncle, Mark R. Heine, said Tuesday that Touma had told her family that Patino was the father of her child — and that she had discovered that he was married. Heine described the family as still broken-hearted over Touma’s death.

Patino, 27, of 3704 Lairgate Lane in Hope Mills, was charged with first-degree murder Tuesday night. He sat expressionless while awaiting a bond hearing just before 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Cumberland County Jail.

Patino wore jeans and a dark gray T-shirt and said little during the hearing, in which he acknowledged the charge against him and was told he had the right to call family or a lawyer. He was denied bond and is scheduled to appear before a judge at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday at the jail.

Fayetteville police spokeswoman Theresa Chance said Patino was arrested at his home without incident by Fayetteville police and Cumberland County deputies.

Touma, 23, an Army dental specialist, was found dead in a hotel bathroom at the Fairfield Inn near Cross Creek Mall on June 21. She had just arrived at Fort Bragg nine days earlier from Bamberg, Germany — the same place Patino was stationed before transferring to Fort Bragg a few months ago.

Sources who knew Touma in Germany said that she had a relationship with Patino.

Touma’s appearance at Fort Bragg on June 12 was the last confirmed sighting of her. She missed a formation on June 16, then police broke in her motel room five days later when other guests reported a bad odor.

Chance declined to comment Tuesday on whether investigators think Patino wrote an anonymous letter sent to The Fayetteville Observer that took credit for the killing.

She said investigators would provide more information at a press conference today.

In the letter, the killing was referred to as a “master piece” and the writer threatened to kill again. A symbol appearing on the letter was later linked to one found written in lipstick on a mirror in the hotel where Touma was found. The symbol was the same as that used by the notorious Zodiac Killer in the late 1960s.

The newspaper turned the letter over to police, who asked that the newspaper delay its publication. The newspaper did not publish the letter for three days.

Fayetteville police Lt. David Sportsman previously told the Observer that police believed the letter to be valuable evidence, but said it was written to try to mislead investigators.

Autopsies have been performed by both the state and Army pathologists, but no information has been released on the cause of Touma’s death except that it was a homicide. Authorities have not said when they think she died.

Patino’s arrest is the second in just two weeks involving the death of a female soldier assigned to Fort Bragg.

Army 2nd Lt. Holley Wimunc died in early July. Her estranged husband, Marine Cpl. John Patrick Wimunc, was charged with her murder.

According to investigators, John Wimunc killed Holley in her Fayetteville apartment — located on Morganton Road, just a mile from the hotel where Touma’s body was found — and set a fire to try to destroy evidence. Her burned and mutilated body was found in a shallow pit near Camp Lejeune, where John Wimunc was stationed.

The two killings have drawn national media attention — and strained the resources of the Fayetteville police detectives. The department’s homicide division currently has a sergeant and five detectives.

Chance, the police spokeswoman, said the arrest of Patino was the result of the work of those detectives, the police forensic unit, the Army’s Central Investigation Command, sheriff’s deputies and the FBI.

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These are some weak azz individuals. They could not accept the consequences of their actions in these relationships, so they just killed the women. If every man killed their wife/girlfriend/mistress when they were mad with them, would there be any women left? Or vice-versa?

Seems more people are finding it harder to handle the realities of everyday life. Just freakin' sad!

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