Person of Interest Named in Pregnant Soldier Death

Police investigating "confession" to newspaper with Zodiac killer symbol.


June 30, 2008 — -- A soldier has been named a person of interest in the death of pregnant soldier Spc. Megan Touma, a military spokesman said Saturday, the same day a newpaper released an anonymous letter in which the writer claimed responsibility for the young woman's killing.

Military spokesman Lt. Col. John Clearwater told The Associated Press the Ft. Bragg soldier is training at a special operations school, and he has not been charged with any crime.

The Fayetteville, N.C., Observer newspaper released an anonymous letter Saturday in which the writer claims to have murdered Touma, whose body was found in a Fayetteville hotel room bathtub on Saturday, June 21.

The author states the killing was "a master piece" and was one of many "in several states."

The letter is signed with what the author calls 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 correspondences.

The Observer received the note on Wednesday but did not publish it at police request, according to executive editor Brian Tolley. An unnamed source told the newspaper 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 said.

According to the Observer, Fayetteville police officer Lt. David Sportsman cautions that while the letter is believed to be valuable evidence in the investigation, it could have been written to mislead.

Some forensic experts believe the letter is from an imposter.

"If he were real deal, he would tell you something that would put him there that only the killer would know. This guy didn't do this," said Brad Garrett, a former FBI agent and ABC News consultant.

Police have yet to determine the cause of Touma's death and have not ruled out natural causes.

"There is absolutely no reason to believe there have been any other killings or that any other killings have occurred related to this so-called confession," Sportsman told the Observer.

The letter also taunts the Fayetteville police, calling them "incompetent" and claiming that the author sat and watched investigators as they were on site at the motel.

The letter is dated June 17, four days before Touma's body was found in a condition that led investigators to believe she had been been dead for several days. The letter was postmarked on June 24, the day before it was delivered to the paper.

"This is the department's top priority," Sportsman told the Observer. "We want to solve this thing."

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., on Thursday, June 12. Since Touma had Friday off, her absence only became suspicous when she failed to appear at formation on Tuesday.

The Army has launched an internal investigation into why she was not declared AWOL on Wednesday as dictated by Army regulations, according to a report by The Associated Press.

Her body was not identified until a week later.

"She was left in the room for two days," Touma's ex-husband, El Sayed Touma, told WCSC-TV Thursday. "They didn't even bother to go check on her in the motel where she stayed."

According to a police warrant, the body was not discovered until a maintenance man detected an odor coming from Touma's room.

Though an autopsy has been completed, police have not released those details and are continuing to investigate the cause of Tauma's death.

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