Local News

Authorities: Fugitive's Wife Not Home When Marine Killed

Posted January 18, 2008

— Onslow County authorities said Friday they don't believe the wife of a Camp Lejeune Marine accused of killing a comrade was home at the time of the slaying.

Cpl. Cesar Laurean, the subject of an international manhunt, has been charged with murder in the death of Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach. Her burned remains were found a week ago in a shallow grave in Laurean's back yard.

The hunt for Laurean is expected to intensify this weekend as national TV show “America’s Most Wanted” profiles the case. He is already featured on the show’s Web site.

A day before he was named a suspect in Lauterbach's death, Laurean told his wife he had buried her body out of fear after she had committed suicide in their home, according to a search warrant.

Christina Laurean waited until after her husband fled a week ago to disclose the information to authorities. She also delivered a note from him to investigators, which led to the discovery of Lauterbach's body.

Onslow County Sheriff Ed Brown said Friday that Christina Laurean told investigators she was at a Christmas party when Lauterbach was killed on Dec. 14.

"We don't have any information right now to believe that she was there when this murder occurred," said Capt. Rick Sutherland, of the Onslow County Sheriff's Office.

In an interview with CBS News this week, Christina Laurean's father said his daughter had told him she was at work when Lauterbach was killed.

Authorities have described Christina Laurean as a cooperating witness and said they have no plans to charge her.

Lauterbach last May accused Cesar Laurean of raping her. Her disappearance a month ago came not long after she met with military prosecutors to discuss the rape allegation.

She was due to give birth in February, and military investigators said they wanted to obtain DNA evidence from the child before proceeding with the rape case.

Onslow County authorities said blood spatters inside the Laurean home and garage showed Lauterbach was beaten to death inside. Someone tried to clean up the blood, including painting over it, authorities said.

A neighbor said Christina Laurean talked about repainting several rooms around the same time. Neighbors also said they saw Cesar Laurean driving Lauterbach's car after Dec. 14.

Onslow County authorities on Friday released a photo taken at an automated teller machine in Jacksonville. The photo shows a man who used Lauterbach's ATM card to withdraw money on Christmas Eve, and investigators said they believe the man is Laurean.

The Laureans continued living in the home for nearly a month after Lauterbach's slaying, but Sutherland said Friday it's difficult to say whether Christina Laurean would have noticed any evidence of the crime.

"My wife and I can look at two different things and see two different things because of my training and experience. So, it's absolutely impossible for me to speculate what anybody else would have seen walk through the same crime seen that I walked through," he said.

Christina Laurean told authorities she believed her husband would head to Mexico if he was in trouble. Court documents filed by the FBI this week indicate Cesar Laurean told members of his Marine Corps unit that he would flee to Mexico if it appeared he would be found guilty of rape.

Cesar Laurean is a native of Mexico. He became a U.S. citizen and was living in Las Vegas before enlisting in 2004.

FBI agents are working with Mexican authorities to determine if he is in that country. A $25,000 reward has been posted for information leading to his capture.

Cesar Laurean's pickup truck was located Tuesday at a motel near Raleigh-Durham International Airport. Authorities said they had recovered forensic evidence from the truck that would assist in the investigation.

An item that “may have been used" in Lauterbach's death was turned over to investigators last week by an unidentified witness, but authorities haven't disclosed what it is. The item is being analyzed by the State Bureau of Investigation Crime Laboratory in Raleigh.


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  • Nancy Jan 18, 2008

    "I think everyone already knew the wife wasn't around, nor did she know about it. Seems that people are making a story out of something like the public doesn't know. Dummy Award goes here."

    Except - the neighbor told of talking to the wife and they talked about the painting going on inside. So wife was involved in painting which was part of the coverup of the blood spatter.

    This will be interesting.

    Police say she is a 'cooperating witness' and they don't plan to charge her. She's their only source of information on the timeline.

  • doubletrouble Jan 18, 2008

    Ok..he told wife about the crime while on the way to an attorney. She probably had to spend all the rest of that day and night with him(if not, that raises other questions) until 4am the next morning(probably scared to death)He left early @ 4am that morning...then she contacted the cops that same day, probably after she was sure he was gone. "If" this was the case, I can see how they may not put charges on her. Now, if she had tried to cover up evidence, waited 3 days and then went to claim the 25,000 reward..that would be a different story, in my book.

  • doubletrouble Jan 18, 2008

    This is so hard to believe. I quess alot depends on how long the wife was out of the house, or the timeline in which the death occurred. Him doing all this, in a 24hr time period, just doesn't add up. Wife knew of the alleged rape claim earlier=and I don't know too many women who wouldn't have some type of "doubt" start in their heads, about their husbands, on such a charge. Then she finds out he buried her(probably not 100% sure he didn't kill her, at this point). Now, she is stuck in the house with a child, after these facts are revealed-and sure husband is watching her like a hawk. She was probably scared for herself as well as her child, at this point. He leaves the next day, and she then contacts the cops, but waits 24 hours to do so? Could have it been fear of his return, since she knew the facts-or giving him a head start? He was 21, not sure of wife's age. Quess we will have to wait for all the facts, once it comes to light.

  • elcid89 Jan 18, 2008

    "Remember a guy name Nifong? And don't tell me he's "atypical". Seen one lawyer, seen one too many."

    Until you need one ...

  • linnway Jan 18, 2008


  • TwoFer Jan 18, 2008

    I think everyone already knew the wife wasn't around, nor did she know about it. Seems that people are making a story out of something like the public doesn't know. Dummy Award goes here.

  • ratherbnnc Jan 18, 2008

    I think ratherbnnc is a big bowl of mush on the inside. The exterior can only handle so much though! ;-) Phsycology is not really my thing though. I am just a spectator.

    Very good! you get an A.. By Golly. i think your right! ;-)

  • linnway Jan 18, 2008

    "Alas! that doesnt seem like a far fetched question!!" ratherbnnc See..You can be nice. I knew it ;) tarheelpatriot

    I think ratherbnnc is a big bowl of mush on the inside. The exterior can only handle so much though! ;-) Phsycology is not really my thing though. I am just a spectator.

  • ratherbnnc Jan 18, 2008

    Remember it was said that they sent something from the truck to the SBI lab because it needed to be analyzed. I know they say a witness turned in the possible weapon but maybe that was some misinformation

    As i understand from friends in Onslow County Sheriffs Office they sent the truck and weapon both to the SBI Lab. The weapon was found in a wooded area some distance from the house and Deputies were called to recover it by a neighbor. Sounds to them like he tossed it after he cleaned up and painted.

  • ratherbnnc Jan 18, 2008

    ratherb- Bahahahaha!