Two Weeks Later: Deputies Continue Search For Laurean

By: Bill Wilson
By: Bill Wilson

Two weeks ago today deputies say Cesar Laurean skipped town. While the search for the suspected killer centers on Mexico, local authorities aren't letting up their efforts.

Laurean is wanted for killing Lance Corporal Maria Lauterbach, a pregnant Camp Lejeune Marine who had previously accused him of rape.

Authorities believe the Mexican native took a bus across the border. While Laurean has already been indicted in Onslow County, prosecutors say even getting an arrest warrant for him in Mexico is a difficult process.

Earlier this week Onslow County's district attorney told WITN he agreed not to seek the death penalty if Laurean was caught in Mexico. Dewey Hudson says that country will not extradite suspects back to the U.S. who face the death penalty.

Grand Jury Indicts Laurean

A special session of the Onslow County grand jury indicted Laurean Thursday morning on five different counts.

Click here to view the entire news conference.

The indictments are for first degree murder, financial card fraud, attempted financial card fraud, fraud and robbery with a dangerous weapon.

The Camp Lejeune Marine is accused of killing fellow Marine Maria Lauterbach, who was pregnant, and burying her body in a shallow grave in his backyard.

In the press conference, District Attorney Dewey Hudson also addressed the federal autopsy. He said examiners are working to find the paternity and sex of Maria's unborn child. Hudson said the federal autopsy cited the same cause of death for Maria Lauterbach: blunt trauma to the head.

Hudson talked about Mexico, where Laurean is believed to be hiding. He said Mexico made it clear it will not arrest Laurean or allow Laurean's extradition unless it was assured Laurean would not face the death penalty.

Hudson said when faced with the choice of a possible life in prison sentence for Laurean or Laurean living free in Mexico, he "reluctantly agreed" with Mexico's demands.

However, Hudson went on to say, he has made it clear that the waiving of the death penalty possibility only applies if Laurean is arrested and extradited from Mexico. Hudson says he has not agreed to waive the death penalty if Laurean is arrested and extradited from somewhere else.

Hudson answered questions about procedure and law but would not talk about his theories or outline his case.

Captain Rick Sutherland of the Onslow County Sheriff's Office also spoke at the press conference.

Sutherland said there's nothing new he can release. He said the Sheriff's Office is continuing to follow up on tips in Onslow County and tips to the FBI Hotline.

Sutherland went on to say that lawmen are not just focused on one geographical area. The Sheriff's Office is not prepared to confirm where Laurean is until it has a credible sighting from law enforcement.

Hudson: Laurean In Mexico

The D.A. Wednesday confirmed that Laurean is indeed in Mexico.

Hudson tells WITN News that the murder suspect took a bus into Mexico, getting there two days after he left Jacksonville on January 11th.

Later that day authorities found what they believed was a shallow grave in the backyard of Laurean's Jacksonville home.

Hudson tells WITN that Laurean used an alias to get across the border, using his middle name and his mother's maiden name. The name Armando Ramirez is one of several the FBI says Laurean could be using.

The district attorney says his office has agreed not to seek the death penalty against Laurean if he is captured in Mexico. That country will not extradite suspects to the U.S. who face the death penalty. The D.A. says he had a choice, either let Laurean live as a free man in Mexico, or get a jury to put him behind bars for the rest of his life in a North Carolina prison.

Cousin Talked To Laurean Last Week In Mexico

A cousin of Laurean says he saw the murder suspect last week in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Juan Antonio Ramos Ramirez told CNN that Laurean visited his liquor store sometime last week.

Asked what his cousin had told him, Ramos said, "Just 'Hi, I'm just passing by.' "

"He told me he was here with some buddies for a few days and, you know, it's not the first time he's come by to visit, say hi to the family," Ramos told CNN.

Ramos said when we talked to his cousin he had no idea that Laurean was wanted in the United States for murder.

The F.B.I. told WITN Tuesday night it strongly suspects Laurean is in Mexico but cannot confirm it.

More Photographs Released

The FBI Tuesday released more photographs of Laurean.

The three photos include those of two tattoos which the Marine corporal has on him.

See the latest photos below in our image gallery

Laurean was born in Mexico and the FBI has said last week there was a possibility he fled across the border.

Here is a detailed description from the FBI:

Date of Birth: November 13, 1986
Height: 5’9”
Weight: 160 pounds
Eyes: Brown
Hair: Black
Sex: Male
Race: White Hispanic
Nationality: Naturalized U.S. Citizen (since 2003) of Mexican ancestry
Number: W653665176
Occupation: USMC Corporal
Scars and Marks: Laurean has a tattoo of a phoenix rising from the ashes on his left upper arm, and a large tattoo, possibly of a human skull layered over another image, on his right upper arm. Laurean also has a small mole on the left side of his face between his lower lip and his chin.
Remarks: Laurean is a USMC Corporal who was assigned to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, when he apparently fled North Carolina during the early morning hours of January 11, 2008.

FBI Gets "Credible" Tips"

Onslow County sheriff investigators say the FBI is following two credible tips on the whereabouts of murder suspect Cesar Laurean. Captain Rick Sutherland says the leads are strong enough for the FBI to put men on the ground in those locations. Sutherland won't say if they are in the U.S. or Mexico.

The sheriff's department is also testing further a shoe found outside the home of Laurean's that could match one discovered inside the garage. Investigators believe the Lauterbach's murder took place in the garage.

This as the body of murder victim Maria Lauterbach has been turned over to the family and is enroute back to Ohio. So far there have been no announced plans for the lance corporal's funeral in her hometown of Vandalia.

More Photos Released

Monday ATM surveillance video and photos from a fire pit and inside Laurean's home were released by investigators.

Laurean, a Camp Lejeune Marine, has been on the run since January 11. He is accused in the death of the 20-year-old Lauterbach, a Camp Lejeune Marine who was eight-and-a-half months pregnant when she disappeared. Lauterbach's remains and those of her unborn child were found buried in Laurean's backyard.

Captain Rick Sutherland says the photo of the fire pit shows what officials saw when they entered the backyard on January 11, before they knew Lauterbach's body was buried there.

The Sheriff's Office also released images of paint, paint cans and materials in Laurean's garage. Sutherland believe Laurean purchased these items in Jacksonville on December 16 or December 24.

The Sheriff's Office also released ATM surveillance video, which shows both Laurean and Lauterbach making withdrawals in Jacksonville.

The last part of the video, according to the Onslow County Sheriff's Office, is Lauterbach making a withdrawl at 4:20 p.m. on December 14, just hours before she was killed.

Testing is still underway at the State Bureau of Investigation crime lab in Raleigh to determine the murder weapon. Some reports indicated a crowbar was used. The medical examiner cited blunt force trauma to the head for Lauterbach's death.

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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Carol Location: Jax on Jan 27, 2008 at 11:50 AM
    Kevin, I'm very sorry to hear about your daughter. I visited the website and I signed the petition. I am glad you posted because I couldn't find the other site to sign the petition that was started for Maria and I didn't get to go to the vigil. Thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.
  • by Kevin Location: Raleigh on Jan 27, 2008 at 06:28 AM
    To everyone that believes we must do something about this. My daughter was murdered last June in Raleigh, she was 8 1/2 months pregnant. When they catch the person who did this they will not be charged with two murders. THIS IS WRONG. You can help us change this. Please go to our website, and fill in your comments on the House Bill 263 page and hit submit, it will then send an email to our state leaders. They need to know that this Bill has to be passed. There is no family that should have to deal with this pain, knowing that their child or grandchild was not considered a baby, a viable human being.
  • by Ann Location: NC on Jan 25, 2008 at 04:26 PM
    We can second guess this case all day, but it won't get us anywhere. I'm sure the Onslow County Sheriff's office along with the FBI is following up on all leads and doing what is necessary to catch Laurean. Let's face it, if they leak out everything they know which is what we want to know, then he will just stay in hiding. I feel sure that he is keeping up with most of these comments and what the law is looking for. If he is not reading them he probably has someone else doing it for him. There is one thing that we can be sure of and that is he has to have some sort of finances to survive, so it will be interesting to learn who has been helping him all along. it is probably more than one person.
  • by Mrs. T Location: NC on Jan 25, 2008 at 12:13 PM
    I heard on the Nancy Grace show last night that the FBI and the Mexican authorities are not co-operating with the local law. And they are not looking for Laurean. Let's send in the bounty hunters to get him back on American soil. This guy is a coward.
  • by Dawn Location: Va on Jan 25, 2008 at 11:13 AM Here is an additional picture of Laurean found on the internet..Wonder why the police doesn't have it. This is the most bungled case...Poor Maria..
  • by Great Location: Idea on Jan 25, 2008 at 09:16 AM
    David, I love that idea. That's the best comment on the board.
  • by Carol Location: Jax on Jan 25, 2008 at 04:58 AM
    To exwifeofusmarine: The definition of fetus per Webster dictionary: an unborn or unhatched vertebrate especially after attaining the basic structural plan of its kind; specifically : a developing human from usually two months after conception to birth. Medically speaking-and from all baby books, pregnancy books out there, the baby was technically a fetus because it had not been born yet.
  • by exwifeofmarine Location: nc on Jan 24, 2008 at 09:35 PM
    (upset but not angry) you have never taken anatomy, because at 8 in half months the the child was no longer a fetus. So you and the media is wrong.
  • by not happy Location: chowan on Jan 24, 2008 at 04:58 PM
    I don't understand why his wife has not had more questioning?????!!!!!!
  • by joyce Location: nc on Jan 24, 2008 at 03:56 PM
    horrible doesn't fir this crime! how can society not realize this man killed to ppl. that "fetus" was a life that would have survived outside the womb and now has been robbed of that. only GOD can really serve justice and He can forgive this horrendous crime if the perputrator will ask. Remembering the families and friends of all involved that GOD will give them the peace that passes all understanding during this time.
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