Mother Says Maria Wanted To Be A Police Officer

Murdered Camp Lejeune Marine Maria Lauterbach loved being a Marine and wanted to be a police officer after she left the Corps.

Those are among the comments her mother, Mary Lauterbach, gave our NBC affiliate in Dayton, Ohio, WDTN-TV.

Mary Lauterbach tells WDTN they are not angry with Cesar Laurean, the Marine Corporal suspected of killing her and her unborn baby, but rather are focusing on remembering Maria's life in hopes that her death will not have been in vain.

Mrs. Lauterbach also says Maria was an adventuresome and strong person who was close with her family and chose to keep her baby, even though she was the victim of a rape.

The worldwide manhunt for Laurean continues with a $25,000 reward being offered.

WITN has set up a page to send your condolences to Maria Lauterbach's family. There is a link to that page at the end of this story.

FBI Offers $25,000 Reward For Laurean

The FBI is now offering a $25,000 reward for the apprehension of Cpl. Cesar Laurean.

At an 11:00 a.m. news conference, Brown said the FBI is also using electronic billboards across the nation to get the word out.

The sheriff says murder victim's Maria Lauterbach's stolen ATM card was found at the Durham bus station this past weekend. He says investigators believe Lauterbach died around December 15th.

Brown says there have also been sightings of Laurean's black Dodge pickup truck in the Raleigh-Durham area.

The sheriff said if Laurean was watching to please contact his family. Brown also made a nationwide appeal for everyone to be looking for Laurean.

WITN has set up a page to send your condolences to Maria Lauterbach's family. There is a link to that page at the end of this story.

Investigators Talk To Laurean's Wife

Investigators searching for the suspect in the death of a 20-year-old pregnant fellow Marine say they've talked with his family but don't know where he is.

Onslow County Sheriff Ed Brown would not say what he's learned by talking to the family of Corporal Cesar Laurean.

Brown says Cpl. Laurean was last seen Friday morning at 4:00 a.m. by his wife. Now there is a nationwide manhunt for the Camp Lejeune Marine.

Laurean is wanted for the murder of Lance Corporal Maria Lauterbach. A pregnant woman's body was found buried in Laurean's backyard Saturday.

Brown says Laurean should be considered dangerous. He said if the public comes in contact with the suspect, "don't get him in a corner," warned the sheriff.

The sheriff urged Laurean to turn himself in, saying this case won't go away until resolved in the courts.

Search In Louisiana and Texas

The nationwide manhunt focused Sunday on Louisiana and Texas, after a possible sighting at a bus station.

Tips came in saying that Laurean was seen at a Shreveport, Louisiana, station Saturday night, Onslow County Sheriff Ed Brown said. The bus Laurean was possibly riding was headed to Texas, but police don't know if he continued on that route, he said.

Brown has said murder victim Maria Lauterbach purchased a bus ticket to El Paso, Texas, around the time of her disappearance, but said Sunday authorities are not in possession of 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 said 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 was also wanted on a federal warrant charging him with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. Bureau spokesman Newsom Summerlin said that while investigators don't have any reason to believe he's fled the country, that remains a possibility.

Along with the FBI, Brown said federal Marshals, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation are hunting for Laurean.

Neighbor: Laurean Borrowed Shovel

A man who lives next door to Laurean says he loaned the Marine a shovel a week before Christmas.

What is believed to be the remains of Lauterbach and her unborn child were unearthed in Laurean's backyard fire pit in Jacksonville Saturday. Lauterbach was last seen December 14.

The next-door neighbor and his family were at the Onslow County Sheriff's Office Sunday afternoon, perhaps helping authorities map out Lauterbach's final days.

The neighbor told WITN News he saw Laurean driving Lauterbach's car the week before Christmas. The neighbor says Laurean parked it at his home, during a time in which Laurean's wife car was not there.

The neighbor family and Laurean's had contact at times as their children are about the same age and play together.

Saturday: Pregnant Woman's Body Found

Onslow County authorities removed a body they believe is missing Marine Maria Lauterbach from a shallow grave Saturday afternoon. This after authorities spent some six hours digging up a fire pit in the backyard of Cpl. Cesar Laurean's home. The grave appeared to be about two feet deep.

Sheriff Ed Brown says inside the abdominal area of the woman was a fetus.

During a news conference Saturday afternoon, Brown said he will never forget seeing the fetus' curled burnt hand, about the size of his thumb. Lauterbach was 8 1/2 months pregnant when last seen December 14th.

"One of the things that will probably stick with me for a long time, and forever, is that little hand, the way those fingers were turned, that had been burned off the arm. That is bizarre. That is tragic. And it's disgusting," Brown told reporters.

District Attorney Dewey Hudson says while positive ID is still pending, he is confident the body belongs to Lauterbach.

Murder Warrant Issued For Laurean

Within minutes of the body being removed, Onslow County authorities obtained a first degree murder warrant against Cpl. Cesar Laurean. Laurean was the suspect in Lance Corporal Lauterbach's sexual assault.

District Attorney Hudson says there is just one murder charge against Laurean. North Carolina law does not consider an unborn baby to be a murder victim. Hudson said they will file additional charges if medical experts say the baby was first alive.

Search For Body

Officers spent most of the day carefully digging to locate the body of Lauterbach. Seven officers pulled the body out of the shallow grave at 2:00 p.m. Saturday.

Earlier authorities said they found evidence inside the house that suggested Lance Cpl. Lauterbach had been killed. Brown says it shows there was a violent, powerful impact blow inside that house.

A neighbor of Laurean says she's seen vultures swarming around the fire pit in Laurean's backyard. Ruth Hughes tells WITN that her husband recently noticed a fire in their neighbor's backyard.

Lauterbach Protective Order

The Marine Corps now says Maria Lauterbach had received a protective order against Laurean last summer.

Her uncle said the Marines did not do enough to protect his niece. Pete Steiner, said that Lauterbach — stung by the harassment that eventually forced her to move off base — decided to drop the rape case against Laurean the week before she disappeared.

Note From Suspect

Lauterbach disappeared three weeks ago, days after she talked to military prosecutors about a rape case against Laurean. Friday Brown said information from another woman, a former Marine, left them certain she is dead.

Before fleeing Jacksonville Friday, Laurean left a note that said Lauterbach had "come to his residence and cut her (own) throat," Brown said.

The sheriff says the note claims Lauterbach came to Laurean's home, the two had an argument, and she killed herself.

But Brown says blood found in the house is inconsistent with Laurean's claim. "Evidence now is showing that what he claimed happened didn't happen," he said.

Authorities learned about the note from Laurean's wife, a person familiar with the investigation told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing. In the note, the person said, Laurean wrote that he had nothing to do with Lauterbach's suicide, but that he had buried her body.

Laurean's wife, Christina, is "heartbroken," said her mother, Debbie Sue Shifflet.

"I feel sorry for the other family," Shifflet said. "It's horrible what they're going through. My heart goes out to them."

FRIDAY'S STORY

Sheriff Ed Brown says his officers appear to be close to finding the body Maria Lauterbach, while District Attorney Dewey Hudson says detectives found what appeared to be burnt human remains.

Brown says they found a cavity in the backyard of Laurean's home. He says the medical examiner will be there in the morning and they won't being any digging until daylight.

After some slight digging in a fire pit, detectives found what "appeared to be burnt human remains," the D.A. said Friday night.

"We think we have found what will (contain) the skeletal remains of Maria Lauterbach," Hudson said. Authorities placed a tarp and two white tents over the area and planned to begin slowly scraping the earth with garden tools in the morning.

Investigators from the State Bureau of Investigation planned to move indoors and begin a search for blood and other evidence inside his one-story, brown brick ranch home off Gum Branch Road.

They are focusing on what they called an underground cavity in the backyard of a comrade she had accused of rape.

Sheriff Ed Brown says authorities don't plan to look anywhere else.

Nationwide Search For Suspect

At a noon news conference Brown announced the missing pregnant Marine is dead and her body buried in Onslow County. The suspect in her disappearance is the man who was accused of sexually assaulting the Marine.

A nationwide alert is now out for Laurean.

Authorities say Laurean was last seen around 4:00 a.m. Brown says attorneys for the man said they do not know where he is. Laurean is believed driving a black black 2004 quad cab Dodge pickup truck with North Carolina tag TRR-1522.

Lauterbach Family Issues Statement

It was shocking news not only in Jacksonville, but also in Vandalia, Ohio area where Lauterbach grew up.

Her family issued this statement this afternoon:

"We would like to thank everyone for their prayers in this time of grieving. Maria has been a gift for her family and friends. The outpouring of love from family, friends, neighbors and the general community has been very touching. Please understand that the family needs time alone. We wish to thank everyone for their love and concern."


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