A 20-year-old pregnant Marine who disappeared in December told victims' advocates at Camp Lejeune she didn't feel unsafe in the presence of the colleague now wanted in her death, Marine Corps officials said Tuesday.
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Marine Cpl. Cesar Armando Laurean never violated the military protective order directing him to stay away from Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach, denied having any kind of sexual contact with her, and continued to report for work on time in the weeks after her disappearance, said Col. Gary Sokoloski, the judge advocate general officer for the II Marine Expeditionary Force.
"At no time did she indicate that she was threatened by Cpl. Laurean," Sokoloski said. "When she was asked if she felt threatened by Cpl. Laurean, she said she did not feel threatened."
Marine officials said Tuesday that Lauterbach met with prosecutors in November and said she no longer believed Laurean was the father. A pregnancy test performed in May, when she alleged Laurean had raped her in March and April, was negative. A later test performed in June was positive, and doctors estimated her date of conception as May 14.
Naval investigators concluded the sexual encounter in March was not criminal, said NCIS agent Paul Ciccarelli. In a second incident about two weeks later, Ciccarelli said, the pair had a sexual encounter that didn't include any threats, force, violence or coercion.
"She asked him to stop, and he did stop," Ciccarelli said, saying that was the account Lauterbach gave to officials.
He said she still considered both to be incidents rape, and Lauterbach's regimental commander treated her allegations seriously. Her commander was intent on taking the case to an Article 32 hearing — the military equivalent of a grand jury proceeding.
Authorities believe Lauterbach was killed around Dec. 15. Lt. Col. Curtis Hill, a spokesman for the II MEF, said Lauterbach's supervisors attempted to find her after she failed to report to work on Dec. 17, calling her cell phone and sending someone to her home.
But he said there was evidence — including a note left for her roommate in which she wrote she was tired of the Marine Corps lifestyle — that led them to believe she left on her own.
"We all thought, all of us, that she had left on her own free will and was going to be found," Hill said.