Arrest made in Touma murder

July 29, 2008 8:32:49 PM PDT
Fayetteville police arrest man in connection with the death of Army Spc. Megan Touma.Police arrested and charged Edgar Patino with first degree murder in the death of pregnant Army Spc. Megan Touma.

Patino, 27, was taken into custody without incident at his home located at 3704 Lairgate Lane in Hope Mills shortly before 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Sources tell Eyewitness News Patino was the father of Tourma's baby and has been a person of interest for Fayetteville Police since early on in the investigation.

Fayetteville police watch commander Lt. Lars Paul said Patino was stationed at Fort Bragg, but couldn't provide his rank or unit.

Patino is being held without bond in the Cumberland County jail. A press conference is scheduled for 11 a.m.. His first curt appearance is at 2:30 p.m..

Earlier this month, the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology released an autopsy report ruling Touma's death a homicide. The cause of her death or motive hasn't been released.

Touma, 23, was found dead June 21 at a Fayetteville motel after a maintenance supervisor smelled a foul odor coming from a room, which had been protected by a "Do Not Disturb" sign for four days.

A dental specialist from Cold Spring, Ky., Touma was seven months pregnant and had recently arrived from a base in Germany.

She was last seen alive not long after she arrived on June 12 at Fort Bragg, home to the Army's 82nd Airborne Division and its Special Operations Command.

She was temporarily assigned to Fort Bragg's 19th Replacement Company, and would have eventually been assigned to work at a base dental clinic. Her and her ex-husband El Sayed Touma divorced last year.

Police also investigated a letter sent to The Fayetteville Observer from a person who claimed to be a serial killer responsible for Touma's death. 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.

Police have said they believed the letter was written to mislead investigators and the media.

Two other servicewomen have been killed this year near North Carolina bases.

Earlier this month, 24-year-old Army 2nd Lt. Holley Wimunc was found dead near Camp Lejeune three days after a suspicious fire at her Fayetteville apartment. Her estranged husband who is stationed at Camp Lejeune, Marine Cpl. John Wimunc, has been charged in her death.

In January, the body of pregnant 20-year-old Marine Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach was discovered in a shallow grave near Camp Lejeune. Her former co-worker, Cpl. Cesar Laurean, fled to Mexico but was arrested April 10. He has been charged with murder and is awaiting extradition.


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