Local News

Pregnant Marine's Disappearance Worries Authorities

Posted January 9, 2008

— A pregnant Marine who disappeared three weeks ago from Camp Lejeune is due to deliver any day, and authorities grow more concerned daily about her safety.

Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach 20, was reported missing by her mother on Dec. 19, five days after the two last spoke, authorities said. Her car was found Monday night at a bus station near base – investigators said it hadn't been there long – and they found her cell phone on N.C. Highway 24.

The Marine Corps Times newspaper has reported suspicious activity has been flagged in Lauterbach's bank accounts since her disappearance.

"The more that we have suspicious things come up, the more concern we have that something is not right with this lady's disappearance," Onslow County Sheriff Ed Brown said.

The Onslow County Sheriff's Office is working on the case with the State Bureau of Investigation and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

Lauterbach, a member of the 2nd Marine Logistics Group, joined the Marines in June 2006 but hasn't been deployed. She was 8½ months pregnant when she was last seen and could already be past her due date.

"It does become more of a concern for endurance when you're dealing with a lady who is near delivery with child," Brown said.

Investigators declined to discuss a possible "significant other" or the father of Lauterbach's baby.

She lived in the Midway Park housing area, which isn't on base but is reserved for Marines. Deputies have searched the home and questioned some roommates.

Investigators are still waiting to talk with at least one male roommate who might be deployed, Brown said, adding the man could be considered a person of interest.

"Until you can interview him and eliminate him, you still consider them as key people of concern," he said.

Lauterbach also was scheduled to testify in a criminal case after being the victim of an on-base crime, he said, declining to elaborate.

"The longer it goes, the more stressful it gets that something may have happened to this lady against her will," he said.

Lauterbach's mother came to Onslow County last weekend from the family's home in Montgomery, Ohio, to provide whatever assistance she could in the investigation. Friends and relatives also set up a Facebook.com page to help find the missing Marine, who they said would never go anywhere without letting someone know.

"We're going to turn over every stone trying to locate her," Brown said.


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  • thefensk Jan 10, 2008

    I wonder about that drifter guy Hilton in Georgia. If the links to the other NC murders and the suspected Florida murder turn up positive evidence, then it is obvious we have a drifter-serial killer floating up and down the eastern US.

    Just a gut feeling hunch here. I bet they clear up a number of missing persons cases the more they talk to that guy.

  • nisa-pizza Jan 10, 2008

    There is not alot of info regarding her pregnancy (ie who is the father etc.) and not alot is being divulged. It's not really anyone else's business but it could very well be relevant to her being missing.

    Lord knows that the rate of pregnant women being slain is incredible and getting worse. (One in Raleigh in the last year)it could very well be anyone including someone involved in the incident she witnessed, but that scenerio happens everywhere not just in military circles (gangs, etc.) It's always in the news all over the country so I personally can't get on the "playing for keeps" train pertaining to the military. That's just me though. I and my 5 sister's didn't marry military because the life is too hard on everyone in the family.
    In 20 years plus in the area mostly on base I never witnessed the "playing for keeps" mentalilty. Gung-ho maybe but not vendetta death style.

    1crazygirl, exactly where are you from, the Piney Green area or more toward Swansboro?

  • garnertoy Jan 10, 2008

    prayers to her family

  • kittiboo Jan 10, 2008

    The fact that her car was abandoned and her cell phone found on the side of the road should raise SERIOUS red flags! I sure hope she is found safe and sound, but I have a bad feeling... Her poor family...

  • nisa-pizza Jan 10, 2008

    That sounds like “A Few Good Men”, not like the LeJeune that I grew up on. Dad worked for the Commanding Generals so we knew what was going on. LeJeune is a good-sized city pop. wise & it’s crime rate is very low. J"ville has a much higher crime/murder rate than the base does, mostly civilians.

    Most Marines are aged 18-23 and fresh out of boot camp scared to death. The NCO’S & Staff NCO (Sgt and above) also try to train them to keep themselves & others alive. I've seen some NCO's cry after losing a man at war. The men train & get shipped out all over the world by the Navy. After training all week they leave base at 12noon on Fri. & head to J’ville for drinking & partying and sometimes get into trouble. They get back to base by 6am Mon. to start over again.

    Rarely, a Marine may lose his life in training mishaps (ammo, bombing ranges, drowning) but it’s no where near the “playing for keeps” scene painted. Yes, there are bad apples on base, but RARELY li

  • godshelper Jan 10, 2008

    kentbarker... you are the only person I have really met who suffers from selective reading....you selected what you wanted to read and ignored all the facts... you must be the type of person who likes to get half the facts run out start a rumor and hide in the cornor and snicker while everyone goes crazy.. what you said makes no sense...Onslow sheriffs Dept. has hardly anything to do with this case... She is a Missing Marine...She will be treated as if govt. property is missing... Onslow County will be lucky if they get to assist the investigation any further that what they have.... Lets read the entire story ok....

  • Dr. Dataclerk Jan 10, 2008

    They should have put her in a witness protection program for her safety and her baby's safety. Trust someone out there knows all about this case. I just don't believe she is alive because if she was; with all the news media reports she, I believe would have responded one way or the other to at least let her family know she way "OK." This is a dangerous world we now live in. Hopefully and prayfully she will be found soon.

  • allison842 Jan 10, 2008

    Yeah, it's too hard to speculate at this point. The clues that have been given could add up to several explanations. Maybe she was scared of something happening to her because of her testimony, so she fled town on her own. Maybe something DID happen because of her testimony. Maybe that has nothing to do with anything, and it's more about her not wanting to have a baby in the military and wanting to get out. The fact that there has been activity on her bank account gives hope that she's alive, and might suggest that she left of her own free will. But who knows. The cell phone being found by the gate doesn't look good... This is national news now. Hope she's okay.

  • 1crazygirl Jan 10, 2008

    My family is also from the Jacksonville~ Swansboro area, and Nisa-Pizza is right. What happens on base is taken care of Military, if a crime crosses line into the "Civilian" world that is when the local authorities can get involved. Being from a military family you learn that the soldiers Play for keeps and they dont care whether you are cilivian or other wise. Being around that my whole life is one reason I never married into the military.
    I hope this girl is found safe and sound, and she just thought she needed to get out of harms way until her child is born. I guess time will tell.

  • nisa-pizza Jan 10, 2008


    I guess you don't realize that it's not that easy when it comes to law enforcement and the Military. I'm from that area (dad was stationed there most of his 30 years) and you certainly can't blame Onslow County Sheriff Dept for not looking for her because the county doesn't have jurisdiction over the base or the Marines, so unless Lejeune asks for help or the crime happened outside of the Main Gate the Sheriff's Dept can't do anything.

    As for her being gone so long, Marines go AWOL on a regular basis and it sometimes takes weeks to locate them. Sometimes they go home and have a hard time getting back, sometimes they just decide they don't want to be there and disappear leaving things behind to not raise suspicions (that's happened before).

    I'm not saying that's what she's done but NCIS had no way of knowing what the situation is. So once it started looking like fowl play that's when they called in SBI, JPD and Sheriff to help out. I just hope she's ok.