A pregnant soldier's unit at Fort Bragg didn't follow procedures for keeping track of newly arrived personnel, the Army said in a report Thursday on the disappearance of the woman, whose body was found this summer at an off-base motel.
The report also said one noncommissioned officer had been reprimanded for lying during the investigation. Two others also were reprimanded. But the report said the oversights and mistakes would not have prevented the death of Spc. Megan L. Touma, 23, of Cold Spring, Ky.
Touma was a dental specialist who arrived June 12 at Fort Bragg after traveling from a base in Germany. Her decomposing body was found June 21 in a motel room bathtub not far from the North Carolina base.
The report said the noncommissioned officer in charge of Touma's unit, the 19th Replacement Co., failed to follow "a number of redundant checks and balances."
Sgt. Edgar Patino, 27, of Hope Mills, was the father of Touma's unborn baby and has been charged with first-degree murder. Investigators said Touma and the married Patino began a relationship while both were stationed in Germany.
Police said they believe the pair met in a Fayetteville motel room the day after she arrived at Fort Bragg. Records showed that Touma had days off after she arrived at the post and missed a formation at the replacement unit on Monday, June 16, and had signed out of a room on post, but didn't leave a contact phone number.
Personnel arrive around the clock at Fort Bragg, a huge base that is home to the 82nd Airborne Division, 18th Airborne Corps and the Army's Special Operations Command.
But that's no excuse for not keeping track of those in uniform, said Scott Silliman, a former Air Force lawyer and military law professor at Duke University.
"Somebody shouldn't just be able to drop through the cracks like that," Silliman said. "I'm not saying mistakes don't happen in any large organization, but they are aggravated when they result in death."
Silliman described the reprimands given the noncommissioned officers as "an adverse administrative action" that will be entered in their personnel files.
The Army's report also said Touma was responsible for keeping her chain of command informed of her location and failed to present her personnel file containing emergency contact information.
"The sequence of events and subsequent errors on the side of 19th Replacement could not have prevented her death, but it would have been alerted to her issue much sooner," the report said. "The 19th Replacement is continuing to improve operations in order to prevent these errors in the future."
Errors were compounded, the report said, when another non-commissioner officer didn't get the unit's roster before a required formation and didn't know who was in the company.
The same sergeant later took Touma's name off the roster because he was told she had been transferred to the dental clinic, but didn't check, it said.
That sergeant also lied to investigators about what happened June 16 and was given a general's letter of reprimand, according to the report.
Two other sergeants were reprimanded, but none of the soldiers were identified.