Authorities in North Carolina investigating the high-profile murder of a female soldier stationed at Fort Bragg who was found dead in a hotel room late last month are now searching for a second female soldier from the same base who's missing after someone set fire to her apartment.
The Fayetteville Police Department identified 24-year-old Holley Wimunc, a second lieutenant at the Womack Army Hospital at Fort Bragg, as missing and endangered Friday. A smoldering blaze was found Thursday morning at her apartment by a concerned colleague after Wimunc failed to show up for her nursing job in the military hospital's maternity ward.
Authorities quickly ruled that the fire had been intentionally set with the help of an accelerant, Lt. David Sportsman, spokesman for the Fayetteville Police Department, told ABC News in an interview Friday. Investigators spent Thursday contacting Wimunc's family and friends, hoping she'd intentionally taken off. Wimunc was nowhere to be found, and authorities identified her Friday so the public could possibly help in the investigation.
"There was arson, it was in her place and we can't find her," Sportsman said. "So the answer is 'Yes.' We are concerned."
Authorities have interviewed her military husband, Marine Cpl. John Wimunc, who is also stationed in North Carolina and with whom Holley Wimunc is reportedly in the middle of a bitter divorce.
According to divorce documents cited by ABC News' Raleigh-Durham affiliate WTVD, Holley Wimunc had had a restraining order out on her husband and claimed that at one point he held a gun to her head and threatened to kill her. John Wimunc is not currently in custody and is not considered a suspect in his wife's disappearance.
The Army Public Affairs Office at Fort Bragg, where Wimunc has been stationed since her arrival in August 2007, is working with Fayetteville police on the investigation.
For police, Wimunc's disappearance follows uncomfortably close to the murder of Army Specialist Megan Touma, who was seven months pregnant when her dead body was found inside a Fayetteville hotel room June 21.
The Army's Criminal Investigation Command announced Friday that Touma's official cause of death was homicide but will not say exactly how she died. Additional toxicology reports are expected from the North Carolina Medical Examiner's Office. Authorities have not named a suspect in Touma's death and continue to follow up on investigative leads.
Sportsman said that some investigators have been pulled from the Touma case to help with the search for Wimunc.
An unidentified person sent a cryptic letter to the Fayetteville Observer shortly after Touma's death claiming responsibility for a "master piece" crime that was one of many in "several states."
The letter was signed with what the author called his or her "role-model's signature," a circle with a vertical and a horizontal line through it — a symbol identical to the one the infamous Zodiac killer used to sign similar correspondence. An unnamed source told the Observer that the same symbol was found written in lipstick on the mirror in the Fairfield Inn room where Touma's body was found, the paper reported after it published the letter.
Authorities did question a "person of interest" in connection with the letter but have not filed any charges in the case and acknowledged that the letter, which also taunted local authorities, may have come from an imposter simply seeking attention.
Touma, an Army dental specialist who had been in the country for less than two weeks after serving three years with the Army in Germany, reported to her assignment at Fort Bragg, N.C., Thursday, June 12, less than 10 days before she was found dead.
The two Fayetteville investigations follow a third high-profile case involving a female member of the military stationed in North Carolina.
In January, the charred remains of Marine Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach, who was eight months pregnant, were found in the backyard of Cpl. Cesar Laurean's home near Camp Lejeune, N.C.
Laurean fled the country, and detectives said he left behind a note for his wife in which he denied killing Lauterbach but admitted to burying her remains.
The fugitive managed to avoid capture for several months by living a simple life in San Juan de la Vina, Mexico, until he was arrested in April by Mexican authorities after being spotted walking on a village street. According to witnesses, he did not put up a fight.
Laurean is being held in a Mexico City prison, and North Carolina officials are working through the usual channels to extradite him.
Sportsman, the spokesman for the Fayetteville police, said is was the Lauterbach case that ignited such intense media interest in Touma's death. Wimunc's case has only intensified that interest.
"We've had cases in the past where a soldier was killed and for whatever reason, we never got this kind of attention until now," Sportsman said. "It's unfortunate that these things happen so close together, but what's caused so much attention is what happened in Jacksonville."
Sportsman said that authorities have found no evidence linking Touma's death to Wimunc's disappearance.