Slain Marine Maria Lauterbach Described As Friendly But Tough
Posted January 14, 2008 3:27 p.m. EST
Updated January 15, 2008 1:03 a.m. EST
Vandalia, Ohio — Hometown friends and neighbors remembered a slain Marine on Monday as a tough-minded, highly competitive prep athlete who left Ohio right out of high school for the military.
Authorities in North Carolina recovered Saturday what they believed to be the burned remains of 20-year-old Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach and her unborn child from a fire pit in the backyard of fellow Marine Cpl. Cesar Armando Laurean. A wide-ranging search for Laurean was ongoing Monday.
Lauterbach disappeared sometime after December 14, not long after she met with military prosecutors to talk about her April allegation that Laurean raped her.
Hundreds of people were expected to turn out Monday evening for a prayer service at St. Christopher Church in this suburb 10 miles north of Dayton. Reports of Lauterbach's disappearance and subsequent news of her death has dominated discussions in this community for days.
John Boggess, superintendent of the Miami Valley Career Technology Center where Lauterbach studied, said counselors were available Monday and that school representatives would attend the service.
"Our school has been shocked by the news," Boggess said.
Alex Smith, 17, said reports of the death spread quickly Friday, by text and online messages. He knew Lauterbach because both attended church in the St. Christopher parish.
Others knew her through youth theater and other activities, including softball and soccer. She was a standout in both sports.
"Her goal was to be a Marine and wear the uniform," said neighbor Kent Zimmerman.
Lauterbach was described last week as "a tough girl" by Marine Staff Sgt. Sam Mao, a recruiter in Huber Heights, where she joined the Marines in 2006.
"She joined the Marine Corps for a big challenge," he said. "She was determined to succeed."
After the report of her death, the Huber Heights recruiting office referred calls for information about Lauterbach to officials at Camp Lejeune, where she and Laurean were personnel clerks assigned to the 2nd Marine Logistics Group of the II Marine Expeditionary Force.
Lauterbach's mother, Mary Lauterbach, has said the physical demands of the Marines appealed to her daughter and that she liked boot camp. Her father, Victor Lauterbach, is an Air Force Reserve master sergeant in the 87th Aerial Port Squadron, which is part of the 445th Airlift Wing at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton. The couple adopted Maria as a baby. They have four other children.