Authorities investigating the beating death of a 20-year-old pregnant Marine have recovered what may be the murder weapon.
Onslow County Sheriff's Captain Rick Sutherland said Thursday that a witness gave investigators an item that could have been used to kill Lance Corporal Maria Lauterbach. Sutherland declined to say who gave police the item last weekend and what it was.
The Jacksonville Daily News is reporting the weapon is a crowbar.
An autopsy determined Lauterbach died of blunt force trauma to the head.
Investigators believe the key suspect in the case, Corporal Cesar Armando Laurean, may have fled to Mexico. The 21-year-old is a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Mexico, and he has some family in the country.
Lauterbach had accused Laurean of rape.
Friend Of Laurean & Lauterbach Speak Out
A former Camp Lejeune Marine, who says she knew both Lauterbach and Laurean, tells CNN the murdered Marine was indeed afraid of the man now suspected of killing her.
CNN interviewed the woman in Pittsburgh. She did not want to be identified. Her comments contradict statements made by Marine Corps personnel Tuesday, who said Lauterbach told them on several occasions she was not afraid of Laurean.
The former Marine also told CNN she was the one who helped get a protective order in place. She says it was still in effect at the time of Lauterbach's death.
The woman also said she kind of blew Lauterbach off when she said she was afraid of Laurean because she thought there's no way he would do anything.
When asked if she thought Laurean is capable of murder, the woman told CNN, "I guess so. I guess anyone is capable of anything depending on how far they're pushed."
FBI Says Laurean May Be In Mexico
The FBI tells WITN News that murder suspect Cesar Laurean is most likely now in Mexico.
Amy Phoreson, Special Agent In Charge of the Charlotte FBI Office says they do believe Cpl. Laurean is in Mexico. She tells WITN they have strong leads that they are now following up on.
Officials say the FBI is now working with Mexican authorities to track him down.
A wide-ranging manhunt for Corporal Cesar Armando Laurean began last week, after authorities said he fled North Carolina. He left behind a note in which he admitted burying the body of Lance Corporal Maria Lauterbach, who had accused him of rape. Detectives later found Lauterbach's burned remains in a fire pit in his backyard.
Court documents filed this week by the FBI state that Laurean told members of his Marine Corps unit he would flee to Mexico if it appeared he would be found guilty of rape. Laurean's wife also told authorities she believed he would head to Mexico if he were in trouble.
The 21-year-old Laurean is a naturalized U.S. citizen. The documents filed by the FBI state that his family resides in Nevada, but he has ties to Mexico. Laurean is also wanted in North Carolina on a state arrest warrant for murder.
Two law enforcement officails speaking on the condition of
anonymity say Laurean appears to have mailed letters to his wife in
North Carolina. One official says that at least one was postmarked
Truck Found Tuesday Near RDU
The Onslow County Sheriff's Department confirms that Corporal Cesar Laurean's truck has been found outside a Morrisville motel. The motel is near the Raleigh Durham Airport.
(See the map below for exact location.)
The sheriff's department says the tip about the truck near Raleigh actually originated from Onslow County.
The vehicle was found not far from Durham, where witnesses had said they saw it earlier. Maria Lauterbach's ATM card was found at the Durham Greyhound station.
It's unclear how long the truck had been at the Microtel Inn. A person who works at the front desk says Laurean never checked in.
Camp Lejeune says Laurean was actually born in Mexico, and still has family in that country.