State News

Suspect in Slain Marine Case Spotted at Louisiana Bus Station

Posted January 13, 2008
Updated January 14, 2008

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— Authorities said witnesses spotted a key suspect in the death of a 20-year-old pregnant fellow Marine at a Greyhound bus station in Louisiana, and he could have been heading to Texas.

Witnesses said they saw Marine Cpl. Cesar Armando Laurean on Saturday night at a bus depot in Shreveport, Louisiana, Onslow County Sheriff Ed Brown said. Police don't know if the man believed to be Laurean boarded a bus that was headed to Texas, or left the station.

Brown cautioned late Sunday that his detectives were still working to confirm the sightings, backing away from earlier assurances that the witness accounts were genuine. But he was confident Laurean would soon be in custody.

"It will be a short trip - a short vacation - for Mr. Laurean," Brown said. "His vacation may be short, his travel may be long, but I hope we'll be there to help him return."

The potential sightings came a day after authorities said they recovered what they believe to be the burned remains of Marine Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach and her unborn child from a fire pit in Laurean's backyard, where they suspect he burned and buried her body.

Lauterbach disappeared sometime after December 14, not long after she met with military prosecutors to talk about her April allegation that Laurean raped her. Naval investigators said Saturday the rape case was progressing, and that Laurean had been under a protective order to stay away from Lauterbach.

State authorities issued an arrest warrant on murder charges for Laurean, 21, of the Las Vegas area. They believe he fled Jacksonville before dawn Friday, and said he left behind a note in which he admitted burying her body but claimed she cut her own throat in a suicide.

Brown has challenged Laurean's assertion that Lauterbach killed herself, citing what he described as evidence of a violent confrontation inside Laurean's home - blood spatters on the ceiling and a massive amount of blood on the wall.

Brown has said Lauterbach purchased a bus ticket to El Paso, Texas, around the time of her disappearance, but said Sunday authorities do not have the ticket. Shreveport is roughly 950 miles southwest of Jacksonville, and is about two dozen miles from the Texas state line and more than 800 miles east of El Paso.

Shreveport police Chief Henry Whitehorn Sr. told The Associated Press his department is working with the U.S. Marshal's Service and other law enforcement agencies to locate Laurean. "We don't know if he is still in the area," Whitehorn said. "We believe it may have just been a pass-through."

The FBI said Sunday that Laurean also was wanted on a federal warrant charging him with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. Bureau spokesman Newsom Summerlin said investigators have no reason to believe he's fled the country, but that it is possible.

Authorities received Laurean's note about the purported suicide from Laurean's wife, whom Brown has said is cooperating with authorities. Her family has described her as "heartbroken."

Lauterbach's mother reported her daughter missing December 19. She had been placed on "unauthorized absence" status by the Marine Corps and was listed that day in a national law enforcement database as a "missing person at risk."

Naval investigators said authorities didn't consider Laurean a threat to Lauterbach, or later a flight risk, because they had indications the pair were on friendly terms. Laurean later refused to meet with investigators and left town without telling his lawyers where he was going.


Associated Press writer Harry R. Weber in Atlanta contributed to this report.


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  • sunflowerbubbles Jan 14, 2008

    Nothing but a Coward, this person is!

  • skidmarx48 Jan 14, 2008

    Another case of the military protecting its own? Probably. Years of practise on that score. Problem is that no one raises cane about it when the military is "caught"; everyone just seems to let it blow over. Until the military is held accountable, things like this will continue.

    I hope they find this man and actually allow justice to prevail. Especially since it didnt the first time (when the rape charge was made).

  • Dr. Dataclerk Jan 14, 2008

    WhatNow: You are clearly making sense. Its just the Marines are trying their best to cover their behinds. If she alledged that he rape her and reported it. I hardly belive they were friendly, regardless what is being said. Rape is rape which is taking advantage of someone who is not willing. Well, I am a firm believer that the whole truth will come out in the end.

  • Dr. Dataclerk Jan 14, 2008

    Just a thought: With all that burning and fire, I just wondered why the neighbors did not noticed the smoke; if anything. I would have if I had lived in that neighborhood. Did they even notice a strange smell? This is a horrible crime. My condolences is to the Marine's family and to the alleged killer's wife and family. May God continue to be with them all.

  • WhatNow Jan 14, 2008

    "Naval investigators said authorities didn't consider Laurean a threat to Lauterbach, or later a flight risk, because they had indications the pair were on friendly terms."

    What?? How could they be on friendly terms when one accused the other of rape?? Doesn't make sense to me.

  • Dr. Dataclerk Jan 14, 2008

    He can run but for so long, in the long run, he will be caught. Then I hope the judicial system put him away for Life. He is just digging his hole bigger and bigger. He just should now turn himself in. Meanwhile his face should be on the front page of every newspaper, bulletins out on the highway, train stations, bus station, gas station, air ports etc. until he is caught. This is a horrible crime that happened right here in NC. It a shame it took so long in protecting this young girl and her unborn baby. Maybe in the future, the armed forces will do a better job in protecting alledged rapes and crime victims on their base.

  • rargos Jan 14, 2008

    Anyone else think he's heading for Mexico? If almost a million people cross the border illegally each year, I don't think it'd be very hard for one Marine to cross it the other way ....

    It's hard enough to get Mexico to extradite drug lords, so if this guy gets across, he's home free.

  • amypsychrn Jan 14, 2008

    I missed the part about him being a Mexican National. Where can I find that at?

  • Deb1003 Jan 14, 2008

    If the military felt she was "at risk" on Dec 19th, why did it take so long for the general public to know? Just wondering.

  • Aries82 Jan 14, 2008

    I just hope he gets caught, and gets brought to justice.