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FBI, Mexican Police Arrest Suspect in Slaying of Marine

Posted April 10, 2008
Updated April 11, 2008

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— A Marine personnel clerk wanted for the brutal slaying of a pregnant colleague who had accused him of rape was arrested in Mexico, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said late Thursday.

The FBI's office in Charlotte said special agents and Mexican authorities arrested Marine Cpl. Cesar Laurean around 7 p.m. after a three-month international manhunt. Laurean is charged with murder in the death of Marine Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach.

"Laurean's swift arrest in Mexico was due to the diligence and dedication of the Mexican government and our law enforcement partners," Nathan Gray, the special agent in charge of the FBI's Charlotte office, said in a statement.

The FBI said Laurean is still in Mexico and is awaiting extradition to the U.S.

Magdalena Guzman, a spokeswoman for the Michoacan, Mexico, state prosecutors office, said Mexican police detained Laurean on a street in the small town of Tacambaro, Michoacan. Police said Laurean matched a description circulated by U.S. authorities, Guzman said.

"He was walking down the street. He did not resist," said FBI spokeswoman Amy Thoreson. "We had FBI agents, NCIS agents as well as the Mexican authorities (there) at the time."

"This was truly an international effort, and we will do all we can to ensure Laurean is brought back to Onslow County as quickly as possible to answer the charges against him," Gray said.

Onslow County District Attorney Dewey Hudson immediately cautioned, however, that "it could be a year or two" for authorities to bring Laurean back to North Carolina if he decides to fight the extradition process.

"The extradition process is one where you have a right to appeal," Hudson told The Associated Press. "I have no idea whether he would waive extradition."

The Marines first began searching for Lauterbach, 20, on Dec. 17, after she failed to show up for work. Local authorities took up the case Dec. 19 after her mother reported her missing. Three weeks later, officials found Lauterbach's burned remains in a fire pit in Laurean's back yard near Camp Lejeune.

Lauterbach had earlier accused Laurean of rape.

Laurean fled Onslow County on Jan. 11 – the day before Lauterbach's remains were uncovered.

Laurean left a note for his wife, Christina, that said Lauterbach slit her own throat with a knife and he buried her in the woods near their home.

An autopsy found that Lauterbach died of blunt force trauma to the head.

An Onslow County grand jury on Jan. 24 indicted Laurean on chargers of first-degree murder, financial card theft, attempted financial card fraud, fraud and robbery with a dangerous weapon.

Mexican officials issued a warrant for Laurean's arrest after receiving assurances that U.S. prosecutors would not pursue the death penalty.

Mexico has for decades resisted extraditing people to the U.S. if they could face capital punishment. Hudson said he had "reluctantly" agreed not to seek the death penalty against Laurean if was apprehended in Mexico.

Laurean was born in Guadalajara before moving to the U.S. and becoming an American citizen.

A news conference on Laurean's capture is scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday at the Onslow County Sheriff's Office in Jacksonville. Stay with WRAL and WRAL.com for updates on this developing story.

11 Comments

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  • newmommy06 Apr 11, 2008

    So glad they got him

  • Why Is My Slim Physique Envied Apr 11, 2008

    Praise god, because I'm so tired of hearing about this. Now we just need to get the Peterson guy arrested and convicted...

  • Navaho1 Apr 11, 2008

    It is amazing that they caught him out there - I've been west of Colima and have a taste of the area - you can really get lost out there - nice people there - they like North Americans (if they can speak a little spanish)

  • dianadarling Apr 11, 2008

    Wow! I am impressed. Click on the town name and look at where this little town is. I bet he thought no one would ever look there. Good work FBI.

  • diwanicki Apr 10, 2008

    Thank goodness they finally caught him. He will probablt appeal it and drag it out as long as he can. Once he is returned, I hope the case is handled in a timely manner as well. This should also bring the family some comfert knowing he is finally in custody.

  • mikeyusmc Apr 10, 2008

    I am extremely suprised but happy that he was actually found. I am sure I will seeing him at CP sometime in the near future. Hope he's not dumb enough to "Semper Fi" me or any other of my former Marine coworkers if he does end up there.

  • IHave1-2 Apr 10, 2008

    Kudos to all involved with finding this person. THANK YOU!!! Great job!!! May the victims (mother and unborn child) rest in peace now.

  • l-rae17 Apr 10, 2008

    very good to hear. I don't feel sorry for him in the least. Props to the FBI!

  • OakRapp Apr 10, 2008

    I hope that due diligence is done in prosecuting him. I'd hate to see either prosecution based on assumption of guilt without proof positive or him getting off on a technicality because of sloppy procedures. If we can prove he did it, do the full Danny Deever on him; if not, look harder for proof positive or for another killer.

  • NMBound Apr 10, 2008

    Thank goodness! Hopefully, Maria's family can begin the healing process. I hope that he enjoys what time he has on earth, because what he will endure in the afterlife will be HELL.

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