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Fugitive Marine Might Have Fled to Mexico

Posted January 16, 2008
Updated January 17, 2008

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— A fellow Marine suspected of killing the pregnant woman told friends he would flee to Mexico to avoid being convicted of raping her, and investigators said Wednesday they are working with Mexican authorities to track him down.

A global manhunt has been ongoing since Friday for Cpl. Cesar Armando Laurean, 21, who has been charged with murder in the death of Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach, 20.

Lauterbach, whose burned remains were found over the weekend in a fire pit in Laurean's back yard in Jacksonville, died of blunt force trauma to the head, authorities said.

Authorities have posted a $25,000 reward for Laurean's capture and have put his picture on billboards nationwide. The FBI posted an Internet notice describing Laurean and asked that anyone with information about him call 1-800-CALLFBI (225-5324).

Court documents filed this week by the FBI state that Laurean, 21, told members of his Marine Corps unit he would flee to Mexico if it appeared he would be found guilty of rape. Laurean's wife also told authorities she believed he would head to Mexico if he was in trouble.

"We strongly suspect, but have not confirmed, that Laurean may be in Mexico," FBI spokesman Richard Kolko said in Washington. "We have a strong working relationship with law enforcement partners in Mexico and we're working with them to locate and apprehend him."

Laurean, of Las Vegas, is a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Mexico and still has some family there, authorities said.

Onslow County authorities said they have been in daily contact with Laurean's wife, Christina, to see if she has had any contact with her husband or might have leads on where he might go.

"Anytime a fugitive has a head start on you, there is going to be frustration that he is not caught right away," said Capt. Rick Sutherland, of the Onslow County Sheriff's Office.

Laurean's pickup truck was found Tuesday afternoon outside the Microtel Inn & Suites, off Airport Boulevard and Interstate 40 near Raleigh-Durham International Airport. The truck had been parked there for at least a day, hotel staff and guests said.

The pickup was taken to Onslow County late Tuesday so investigators could comb it for clues. Authorities also were reviewing surveillance video from the Morrisville hotel with Triangle authorities to determine how long Laurean's truck was parked there.

"There is forensic evidence that has been recovered from that truck. Its nature necessitates that it will have to go the (State Bureau of Investigation) lab to be tested further," Sutherland said, declining to elaborate.

The truck was the second piece of evidence linking Laurean with the Triangle.

A jogger passing by the Greyhound Bus station in downtown Durham found an ATM card belonging to Lauterbach on Saturday. Police said it was unlikely the card was used at the bus station because the card reader there has been out of operation for several days.

Witnesses claimed to see Laurean at a bus depot in Shreveport, La., on Saturday night, but investigators said they doubted the accuracy of those reports.

Lauterbach, who had accused Laurean of rape last spring, disappeared a month ago as she was preparing to testify against him in military court. Her cell phone and car were found in Jacksonville in subsequent weeks.

Camp Lejeune officials said Tuesday that they thought Lauterbach had left the area voluntarily, citing a note she left for a roommate, an ATM withdrawal she made and clothes and other items that were taken from her off-base house.

The officials also said they had no reason to believe Laurean posed a threat to Lauterbach or was a flight risk. Written orders were issued to keep the two apart, and Lauterbach was transferred to a different position on base.

"We've lost a Marine. We're going to look at this situation. We're going to see what we've done, and we're going to see if we can do it better," said Lt. Col. Curtis Hill, spokesman for the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Lejeune.

Laurean most likely fled Jacksonville before dawn Friday, according to authorities. He left behind a note in which he said he buried Lauterbach after she had committed suicide by cutting her throat.

Authorities previously rejected the idea that Lauterbach had committed suicide, saying blood evidence found inside Laurean's home pointed to a violent crime.

The note from Laurean and the note Lauterbach left for her roommate have been sent to a handwriting expert for analysis, Sutherland said.

"We have received that (Lauterbach) note, and it's already been submitted to our crime lab. We don't have anyone here within our department that is an expert at analyzing handwriting," he said.

130 Comments

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  • ratherbnnc Jan 17, 2008

    I am not oblivious to anything! Elcid just said it best. Law enforcement cant be everywhere at once. However sad it may seem, the victim sometimes needs to take responsibility and call someone when they feel threatened after an order is issued. Law Enforcement for the most part is ill funded and short staffed to provide "babysitting" services.

  • elcid89 Jan 17, 2008

    "Could that be because you are on this board all day everyday. saying the same thing over and over and over."

    What same thing would that be?

  • elcid89 Jan 17, 2008

    "ratherbnnc, she had two, maybe three protective orders against Lauren, yet she wound up dying at his residence anyway."

    She had one protective order that got automatically renewed. Also, by her own statements to the Corps, she did not feel threatened by him, he hadn't violated the orders in any way and there were doubts as to whether she'd actually been raped at all given the consensual nature of the sexual encounters between them (by her own admission.). She told the investigators that neither encounter was either forced or coerced, and that when she asked him to stop, he did.

    Little wonder that they didn't consider it a serious threat.

  • tarheelpatriot Jan 17, 2008

    ------------------------------------------------------------
    ----"Do you ever get the feeling while reading the commentary here on WRAL that your brain is dying one banality at a time?
    elcid89"
    ------------------------------------------------------------
    ----

    Could that be because you are on this board all day everyday.
    saying the same thing over and over and over.

  • tarheelpatriot Jan 17, 2008

    " You cant trust law enforcement to protect you as a woman? "that makes no sense, when it has been widely publicized that the Marine Corp issued the Protective Order, not the local law enforcement.
    ratherbnnc

    So are you saying she was protected? Seeems "dead" would
    indicate otherwise. Even when law enforcement actually are
    trying they can't be everywhere so if I were threatened by
    someone I would buy a gun

  • doodad Jan 17, 2008

    ratherbnnc, she had two, maybe three protective orders against Lauren, yet she wound up dying at his residence anyway.

    Maybe you are oblivious to the number of women who are murdered by men whom they have filed numerous restraining orders against. One died last year from having sulfuric acid thrown on her. No, I wouldn't trust law enforcement, I would own my own gun and use it if necessary.

    You would be more likely to corner a dog that wouldn't bite you than corner one that would.

  • elcid89 Jan 17, 2008

    "Do you ever get the feeling while reading the commentary here on WRAL that your brain is dying one banality at a time? Yes Elcid.. and your commentaries are killing me. :-)"

    Gosh, yes, Batman ... How clever!

  • ratherbnnc Jan 17, 2008

    This guy had help. Isn't it time the wife was questioned and charged with aiding and abbetting and obstruction of justice?

    This event teaches me that as a woman, never trust law enforcement to protect you if you are threatened an any sense by a man.
    doodad

    Doodad: That is a ridiculous comment. You are acting on emotions and not facts. If you can read the prior articles on it. The wife is being cooperative and they are in contact with her everyday. SO, why should they question her? You cant trust law enforcement to protect you as a woman? that makes no sense, when it has been widely publicized that the Marine Corp issued the Protective Order, not the local law enforcement.

  • ratherbnnc Jan 17, 2008

    Do you ever get the feeling while reading the commentary here on WRAL that your brain is dying one banality at a time?
    Yes Elcid.. and your commentaries are killing me. :-)

  • doodad Jan 17, 2008

    This guy had help. Isn't it time the wife was questioned and charged with aiding and abbetting and obstruction of justice?

    This event teaches me that as a woman, never trust law enforcement to protect you if you are threatened an any sense by a man.

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