Sheriff: Lauterbach Had Bus Ticket To El Paso

By: Bill Wilson/Heather King
By: Bill Wilson/Heather King

WITN News has confirmed that missing Marine Maria Lauterbach bought a bus ticket on the day she was last seen.

Sheriff Ed Brown says the ticket, from Jacksonville to El Paso, was never used. Lauterbach's car was found at the bus station parking lot on Monday and Brown says bus station employees now say that car had been there since December 15th.

Also, the sheriff says Lauterbach's bank card was used at an ATM at the Jacksonville Wal-Mart on December 24th.

Brown says Lauterbach is dead and her body buried in Onslow County. He said that information came in overnight from a person he called a key witness to the crime.

The suspect in her disappearance is the man who was accused of sexually assaulting the Marine. Brown says a nationwide alert has been put out for Corporal Cesar Armando Lauren.

Earlier today Brown appeared on the Today Show, answering questions from Matt Lauer in a live interview. Lauer asked the questions from the Today Show studio in New York City via satellite to Brown in Jacksonville.

Lauer asked Sheriff Brown to elaborate on a comment Brown made during a press conference in Jacksonville Thursday. Lauer read Brown's quote verbatim: "Sometimes people do things, if they could turn the clock back, they wouldn't do them they way they've done them." Brown replied that he has not indicated whether he personally believes Lauterbach disappeared of her own accord or otherwise.

Lauer also reviewed information released about Lauterbach's mental state, including her family's claim that she has a "history of being compulsive lying" and may be bipolar. Brown replied that he has never met the missing Marine, and as a policy does not comment on such matters of those he has never met.

Sheriff Brown indicated in the interview on Today that he would be interviewing the Lauterbach's roommate soon, if not Friday morning, before a major press release scheduled for noon. Brown says Durham was being flown from California where he was deployed for training back to North Carolina. Brown says he's hopeful Sgt. Durham can shed some light on the mysterious disappearance. Durham is believed to be the last person to speak with the missing Marine.

Before concluding the interview, Lauer asked Brown if he thinks it is likely Lauterbach will turn up alive. Brown replied that the "needle is pointing more on the positive side."

Thursday night on WITN News at 5, Sheriff Brown defended his department's handling of the missing person case. To see that live interview click on the link at the top of this story.

Earlier in the day, WITN obtained documents that say Lauterbach's mother told investigators her daughter claimed she was raped by a senior officer in her command at the base.

Authorities have said Maria Lauterbach was the victim of a crime on the base, but would not say what that crime was.

At Thursday afternoon's news conference, Sheriff Brown said he would not address reports that Lauterbach was raped, saying that is being investigated by Camp Lejeune.

According to a sheriff's department investigation report, Lauterbach's mother says she had a firm conservation with her daughter, telling her she should give up the baby when born, telling the Marine she would not be able to care for the baby. The mother also told investigators her daughter had a history of being a compulsive liar.

The sheriff's report indicates the mother said her daughter had been receiving some threats to her military career from the man accused of sexually assaulting her.


WITN has posted the sheriff's office search warrant and the investigation report that was attached to the search warrant. To view those please scroll down to the end of this story for RELATED LINKS.

Sheriff Believes Answer Is Near To Case

Onslow County Sheriff Ed Brown says he does believe the answer is near to what happened to a missing Camp Lejeune Marine who is 9 months pregnant.

Lance Corporal Maria Lauterbach was reported missing December 19th. Her mother says her due date is this coming Tuesday.

This morning Brown says at this time he is not 100% resolved to which way this investigation may go, The sheriff says open leads are still being investigated and more witnesses are being developed and interviewed.

Last night the sheriff's office met with Camp Lejeune's commander and N.C.I.S. to request her roommate, who is deployed to California, be returned to Jacksonville to be interviewed. The sheriff describes the relationship between Lauterbach and the male Marine as "close".

Mother Makes Plea

The mother of a missing Camp Lejeune Marine makes a plea for her daughter and grandchild's safe return, while lawmen explain why there was a delay in reporting her disappearance.

Mary Lauterbach says it's just not like her daughter Marie not to call home several times a day.

Lance Corporal Marie Lauterbach has now been missing for three weeks.

The Marine lance corporal was listed by police as missing on December 19th, but the Onslow County Sheriff's Department didn't go public with the case until Tuesday.

Wednesday night Sheriff Ed Brown told WITN they held off going public until their investigation revealed suspicious activity in the disappearance case.

The mother said Wednesday she just wants to see her daughter again and hopes that the baby is healthy. The missing Marine's due date is next Tuesday.

Mary Lauterbach says her daughter has had a difficult pregnancy. She last talked to her on December 14th about plans for the mother to visit Jacksonville for the holidays. The mother says later that day Marie's roommate called and said something was wrong and the Marine was gone.

Lauterbach, who lives outside of Dayton, Ohio describes her daughter as a loner, but very attached to family and friends.


Previous Story

Authorities now say a missing Camp Lejeune Marine was the victim of a crime that she was set to testify about.

Lance Corporal Maria Lauterbach was eight months pregnant when her mother reported her missing three weeks ago today.

Onslow County Sheriff Ed Brown says they are very concerned about Lauterbach, especially since she would telephone her family in Ohio several times a week.

Brown told WITN Wednesday that there has also been suspicious activity on the Marine's bank account.

Her mother told detectives that her daughter was a witness to an incident that occurred on Camp Lejeune and was supposed to testify in the case. The State Bureau of Investigation and the Navy Criminal Investigative Service have been called in to help with the investigation.

Sheriff Brown said Tuesday there was a delay from when the mother first reported her missing and making the public plea because they were unsure if the Marine had been on leave over the Christmas holidays.

Monday night they found Lauterbach's car at the Jacksonville bus station and her cell phone near Camp Lejeune's main gate..

Deputies tell WITN News they have searched her house and talked to her roommates. Investigators are not saying much about the father of the missing woman's expected child, but do say they have several persons of interest.

The sheriff said he now believes Lauterbach has either had her baby, or is overdue.

Lance Corporal Lauterbach joined the Marine Corps June 6, 2006. She has never been deployed. She currently is assigned to the Group Consolidated Administration Center, which is part of the 2nd Marine Logistics Group.

Lauterbach is originally from Dayton, Ohio. Her family there has set up a page on the web site Facebook in hopes of locating the missing Marine.

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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by JUAN Location: GOMEZ on May 27, 2008 at 02:10 PM
  • by Jennifer Totzkay Location: Michigan on Jan 15, 2008 at 06:52 AM
    My heart goes out to all of Maria's family members at this time of sorrow. I will keep you all in my prayers. All you can do from here on out is replay all those special moments and keep those memories very close to you hearts. You know that she is in a happy place. As for Corporal Cesar Armando Lauren, I hope to God that he doesn't ever get a chance when the officials get ahold of him. Maria and mostly her unborn child never had a a chance due to someone being so selfish. My heart goes out to you all and just try to keep you heads up for her. God Bless.
  • by Cheryl Location: Jacksonville on Jan 14, 2008 at 07:39 PM
    My heart goes out to the family and loved one of Maria Lauterbach. It really bothers me that her mental status is being called in to question. Regardless if she had bipolar or not she definitely did not burn herself up and it is really not fair to down grade her or her memory when she can not defend herself.
  • by Melissa Location: North Carolina on Jan 14, 2008 at 04:38 PM
    You would think as much as they are able to put into marines heads they would teach them things like this were wrong . Part of the is caused by the Corps saying that they support family yet allowing men to get away with adultry . I can say this because I went through it. I put all my prayers and thoughts to Maria Lauterbach and her unborn child and hope that Corporal Cesar Armando Lauren is made to pay dearly for what he has done I also put my thoughts and prayers to his child because they will have to live with what he did for the rest of there life. Its really sad that a mother and child had to loose there life for attention to be brought to these types of things. North Carolina should have a law for the unborn child how can something with a heart beat and feelings not have any rights it just doesnt make any sense thats like saying a newborn has none either. I just pray that nothing like this happens again and that the Corps takes there part of blame for not teaching them better .
  • by recovery Location: usa on Jan 14, 2008 at 04:33 AM
    have you guys contacted the lien holder to see if there is GPS tracking on this truck.We are constantly amazed that GPS is never utilized when it is right there.Just a thought!
  • by Just passing it on... Location: Jacksonville on Jan 13, 2008 at 03:18 PM
    Saw this on myspace... Just passing it on. There will be a Candle Light Ceremony for Maria and her baby at North East Creek Park.. If you can go PLEASE do. We can go in groups so no one feels alone that night. If this community bands together something CAN be done. We will all feel safe if only for that short period of time. 1-18-08 candle ceremony for maria january 18th 2008. At 7pm North East Creek park
  • by Denise Location: Vanceboro, NC on Jan 13, 2008 at 07:35 AM
    My heartfelt condolences go out to this Marine's family and friends.I know what they have been going thru.My daughter and her friend have been missing from Beaufort Co. since last March.It is without a doubt the worst thing a family can go thru.I only hope that Maria's family can have some form of closure even though the ending was so tragic.It was hard for me to listen to the news,they found Maria's body on my daughters B-day.As for law enforcement...once being involved in the Criminal Justice field,had faith in the system and trusted they would do their job,but that has not been the case.I do not have all the facts on Maria's case so I won't comment on that but as for my daughter's case,I know for a fact that Local and State law enforcement dropped the ball.Its as if they didn't care or were too busy to worry about it.They form opinions that are not based on fact but are born of pure arrogance.Although it is too late for Maria,I still have hope it is not too late for my daughter.
  • by viola Location: chesapeake on Jan 13, 2008 at 05:04 AM
  • by Teresa Location: Alabama on Jan 12, 2008 at 10:42 PM
    What has been said about the roommates statement? I lost my 21 year old son just over a year ago,and Sheriff Brown may have not meant any harm for the information about the remains,but I think that was a very bad call. I have pictures of my son's accident from the State Trooper's office,and I have not looked at them yet,and don't know if I ever can.I'm a greiveing Mom,so I can relate some what,but I feel no 2 people are going to handle death the same.Every case is different,circumstanes are different, but I have a problem with the Mom(step Mom)stating that they had had a wonderful conversation,and she was in a good mood and exciting about her coming to visit.I'm not blaming her for what happened,but why did she lie at first?? I find it hard to ever call my child a liar,and bi-polar.If she felt that was needed to be known,"why" not just tell the authorities,not herself on public tv.My son's life was hard to loose,but I'm greatful God spared me the agony of this kinda death.
  • by Samantha Location: Emerald Isle on Jan 12, 2008 at 08:11 PM
    You know, it makes me sick that the comments "she was bipolar and a liar" were made. Even if she was either of those, does NOT mean she deserves to die! Neither does that poor child. Also to the person whos blog was on the news, hearing BOTH sides of the story, HOW can we hear BOTH sides, when one side can't speak. We are just supposed to believe what this man has to say. Since the other can't speak for herself, or her child can't speak for himself we are just supposed to believe whatever he says? SERIOUSLY? So if he says it was self defense (as most people would say that are guilty and obviously dont have aheart or consious) we are just supposed to believe that? Absolutly insane, he represents our country and he did this? I myself, could care less WHAT he has to say!!!

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