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Pregnant Marine dead, sheriff says

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Kris Conover
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« on: January 11, 2008, 01:07:32 pm »

Pregnant Marine dead, sheriff says

Story Highlights
NEW: Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach is dead, sheriff says

NEW: Suspect isn't in custody, sheriff says

NEW: Suspect accused in sexual assault against Lauterbach, authorities say

Lauterbach, 20, was eight months' pregnant when she went missing




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JACKSONVILLE, North Carolina (CNN) -- Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach, the pregnant Marine who was missing from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, is dead, the Onslow County sheriff said Friday.


Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach last spoke to relatives in the Dayton, Ohio, area on December 14.

 The suspect in the case is Cpl. Cesar Armando Lauren, 21, a fellow Marine whom Lauterbach had accused of sexual assault, Sheriff Ed Brown said at a news conference Friday.

Lauren is not in custody, Brown said, and a search is on for him. He said Lauren had left the Camp Lejeune area about 4 a.m. Friday, with nearly an eight-hour head start before the hunt for him began.

Authorities were looking for his black Dodge quad-cab pickup with North Carolina license plate TRR 1522, Brown said, adding that Lauren should turn himself in.

"We'll get him one way or the other, somewhere," he told CNN.

Brown said authorities had obtained physical evidence of Lauterbach's death that also linked Lauren to the case. He would not elaborate on that evidence.

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Asked how Lauterbach died, Brown would only speak "of an injury to her."

He said investigators are looking for the woman's body in a residential wooded area in Onslow County and hoped to find it before dark Friday.

Brown said investigators learned of Lauterbach's death Friday morning when a former Marine contacted military authorities.

The sheriff had expected a positive outcome in the case earlier in the day.

"I just wanted to cry" when learning of her death, he said.

Paul Ciccarelli, a special agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, said Lauren had carried on a relationship with Lauterbach after her **** complaint against him.

Lauterbach was to give testimony in a military hearing on the **** charges scheduled for late December, Ciccarelli said.

Ciccarelli said Lauren had not been considered a flight risk.

Lauterbach, 20, last contacted her family in Ohio on December 14 and was reported missing by her mother on December 19.

Documents released by Onslow County authorities on Thursday had indicated Lauterbach may have gone off on her own willingly, perhaps after being upset by a phone call.

The woman's mother, Mary Lauterbach, described having a "firm conversation" with Maria Lauterbach about her unborn child, telling her she should give the baby up for adoption because she is unable to care for it.  Watch police face unanswered questions

"Ms. Maria Lauterbach was telling Mary Lauterbach everything was fine, but Mary Lauterbach had a sense that the statements were not accurate," the report said.

The Marine Corps had brought Lauterbach's roommate, Sgt. Daniel Robert Durham, back to North Carolina from a training deployment in California to answer questions, but Brown said Friday he was not a suspect in her death.

The Onslow County report said Durham told police that he had made his home available to Lauterbach "out of sympathy for her situation" and that the two had shared the home for a short period of time.

Durham said he noticed nothing unusual in Lauterbach's behavior before she disappeared, but he said, "She had been upset by a phone call from her stepmother."

A few items of Lauterbach's were missing, he said -- her car, some cosmetics and clothing -- that led him to believe she may have left willingly. However, Durham told police that Lauterbach was confined to bed most of the time because of her pregnancy and that she "was in no shape for extended outings," according to the reports.

Brown called Durham a close friend.

Brown said Lauterbach may have been due to give birth January 8. The police reports, however, said she was due on February 14 and did not show up for a prenatal medical appointment December 28.

Lauterbach's cell phone was found on a roadside near Camp Lejeune on December 20. Her car was found Monday in the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant, Brown said, and apparently had been there since December 15.


Investigators have said a withdrawal from Lauterbach's bank account was made on December 14 and there was "suspicious activity" on the account 10 days later. Police reports said Lauterbach's ATM card was used at a Marine Federal Credit Union by a man who attempted to cover the surveillance camera with a rag while he withdrew money from her account.

Lauterbach was a personnel clerk assigned to Combat Logistics Regiment 27, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force, the Marine Corps said. She joined the service on June 6, 2006. E-mail to a friend

http://www.cnn.com/2008/CRIME/01/11/missing.marine/index.html
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