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Warrant: Fugitive's Wife Knew of Pregnant Marine's Death

Posted January 17, 2008
Updated January 18, 2008

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— A day before he was named a suspect in the death of the pregnant Camp Lejeune Marine he is accused of raping, Cpl. Cesar Armando Laurean told his wife he had buried her body out of fear, according to a search warrant returned Thursday.

Christina Laurean told Onslow County sheriff's investigators she had that conversation with her husband on Jan. 10 while driving to meet Jacksonville attorney Mark Raynor, the affidavit said.

Cesar Laurean, 21, also told her that Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach showed up at his home on Dec. 15 to tell him she was leaving Jacksonville and demanded money from Laurean. The two then went to a bus station where he helped her buy a ticket to El Paso, Texas, the warrant said.

Christina Laurean told Onslow County sheriff's detective John Dubois that a disoriented and agitated Lauterbach returned to Cesar Laurean's house later that night and told him that "her plan had failed, that an argument ensued" and that she produced a knife and killed herself by slitting her throat.

"He became scared, took her body to a wooded area adjacent to his residence, and buried her. He obtained legal counsel and explained the facts to them. He was told that he was facing the death penalty," Dubois wrote.

Capt. Rick Sutherland, with the Onslow County Sheriff's Office, said Thursday that investigators believe Cesar Lauren killed Lauterbach, 20, on Dec. 14, despite the date in the warrant and his claims she committed suicide. Blood evidence inside his home pointed to a violent crime, authorities said.

The warrant, however, doesn't say why Christina Laurean waited almost a day before going to authorities. The sheriff's office has described her as cooperating witness. Sutherland said Thursday authorities have no plans to charge her.

When contacted by WRAL on Thursday, she declined to comment.

Possible Weapon Recovered

Officials also said Thursday that they had recovered an item that “may have been used" in Lauterbach's death, although they have not disclosed what it is. A witness turned in the item last week, officials said, and it “is consistent with what the medical examiner believes is the cause of death.”

The item is being analyzed by the State Bureau of Investigation Crime Laboratory in Raleigh.

Lauterbach disappeared in December, not long after she met with military prosecutors to talk about the rape allegation. She was due to give birth in February.

Marine officials have said they attempted to find her after she failed to report to work on Dec. 17, but had evidence – including a note left for her roommate in which she wrote she was tired of the Marine Corps lifestyle – that led them to believe she left on her own.

Her burned remains were found last weekend in a fire pit in Laurean's back yard in Jacksonville. An autopsy showed she died of blunt force trauma to the head, authorities said.

The exam failed to answer all the questions detectives have about Lauterbach's death, officials said, including whether she gave birth before her death and of the identity of the father.

Christina Laurean also told investigators, according to Thursday's warrant, that her husband revealed to her in May that he was accused of raping Lauterbach. She said he denied the allegation and also denied in July that Lauterbach was carrying his child.

Suspect Search Focuses on Mexico

A global manhunt has been ongoing since Friday for Laurean, and authorities have posted a $25,000 reward for his capture.

Court documents filed by the FBI this week indicate he 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.

In a letter Thursday, Rep. Walter B. Jones, R-N.C., urged Mexico President Felipe Calderon to use all means necessary to assist U.S. authorities in capturing Laurean.

"I strongly urge you to use whatever resources available to you to locate and apprehend Laurean as quickly as possible," Jones said.

Should Laurean be apprehended in Mexico, Onslow County District Attorney Dewey Hudson would have to submit the case and evidence to Mexican authorities before they would extradite him.

"It's very difficult, because, as you know, this is still an ongoing investigation," Hudson said. "There are more questions than answers, as you know. There are more twists and turns in this case than there are roller coasters at the State Fair."

Hudson and military prosecutors at Camp Lejeune would also have to ensure Laurean would not face the death penalty before Mexican authorities agree to extradite him.

"I'm very opposed to that. This murder occurred in Onslow County," he said. "We have laws in our state and why another country could tell me what the results should be in this case, it's not something that I like."

207 Comments

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  • elcid89 Jan 18, 2008

    "Being a paralegal of 8 years, I have never met an attorney that gives out free legal advice all day long to random strangers, especially on the internet. They are working on their cases and do the work that they get paid for...at least good attorneys do, anyway. I am not speculating, nor throwing out rumors, this is merely a conclusion based on my experience."

    Yes, you are speculating. Had you bothered to even briefly browse through my profile, you would easily have been informed that I do not practice. I teach. The position and my employment status give me a certain degree of latitude and available time during the day, in addition to the amazing prospect that I can actually do more than one thing at a time.

    Is this what WRAL is coming to? Making disparaging personal comments about others simply because we might not like what they have to say? If so, that's a sad thing. I'd much rather you disagreed with my arguments on their merit or lack thereof, thanks.

  • ratherbnnc Jan 18, 2008

    Being a paralegal of 8 years, I have never met an attorney that gives out free legal advice all day long to random strangers, especially on the internet. They are working on their cases and do the work that they get paid for...at least good attorneys do, anyway. I am not speculating, nor throwing out rumors, this is merely a conclusion based on my experience.

    Hmmm! Seems i said that the other day here. Seems kinda strange to me too. Next time i need a pro bono attorney i know where to go! :-)

  • linnway Jan 18, 2008

    Being a paralegal of 8 years, I have never met an attorney that gives out free legal advice all day long to random strangers, especially on the internet. They are working on their cases and do the work that they get paid for...at least good attorneys do, anyway. I am not speculating, nor throwing out rumors, this is merely a conclusion based on my experience.

  • ratherbnnc Jan 18, 2008

    The wife should definitely be charged with hindering an investigation at the very least. I know she's his wife and all but everyone knows right from wrong and she should have told the authorities alot sooner than 24 hours afterwards.

    As i understand it from friends i have in the Onslow County Sheriffs Office is they have no plans to charge the wife. Based on the fact she is cooperating fully, and she is the best witness they have against him in this case. She has agreed to waive her husband/wife priviledge and testify against him. She is also in the Marine Corp and has been restricted to base. It also seems that Lauterbach was killed in the garage of the house. Not inside the actual living areas as others may think. The blood inside the living area itself was on the kitchen floor where he apparently dragged her body out of the garage and through the back door to the back yard. This is what my aquaintances are telling me.

  • ratherbnnc Jan 18, 2008

    WRAL... Can you tell the public who we can write to in order to change the laws concerning unborn children and Jessica's Law in NC. A lot of the public is appaulled about accountability in a murder.
    Sandollar

    Contact your State Senator or Representative in the District you live in.

  • nisa-pizza Jan 18, 2008

    The wife should definitely be charged with hindering an investigation at the very least. I know she's his wife and all but everyone knows right from wrong and she should have told the authorities alot sooner than 24 hours afterwards.

    He has no regard for life evidently so it just as easily could have been her if she is telling the truth about everything that has gone on. I believe that she is much more involved than we are being lead to believe at this point.

  • Just thinking Jan 17, 2008

    Can anyone tell me why she WASN'T charged with accessory after the fact as James Johnson of Wilson WAS. After all, she waited almost a day to go the authorities with a body being buried next to her house and evidence of a violent crime being inside THEIR OWN HOME. James Johnson waited 3 days and received 3 yrs without a trial.

  • ladyblue Jan 17, 2008

    Sandollar- there is an on line petition going right now since the Neilson murder. Rosebud just put a blog up reacentlyabout the web address. But if you google justice for jenna you will filnd it. I don't have the url at the present but it's been ongong for some time with ovber 7,000 signatures. Hope this helps you out. Thank you elcid for explaining about the military not going after him on being awol. I really couldn't understand that ....but now I see what you are saying. The state filed the charges so the murder is number one and that is state rights over other charges. I thought the grave was in the wide open field of their yard. The video looked like wide open yard to me and I couldn't understand how she could see a dirt pile dugged out in the back yard and not ask about it...That is the one thing that I can't understand about this story with the wife.

  • Sandollar Jan 17, 2008

    Points to remember. There were others that knew of Laurean's actions. He drove her car, as it was parked at his house around the week before Christmas. He had a party at the burn pit around Christmas. He didn't tell his wife about using Lauterbach's ATM card and getting money out. Somebody had to know something. He's still a coward.

  • LK1215 Jan 17, 2008

    Why is this any different from the young man charged as an accessory in the death of the young girl that was raped and murdered? She should definitely be charged as an accessory.

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