Skip to main content

No 'confirmed sightings' of suspect in Marine's killing

  • Story Highlights
  • Shreveport official casts doubt on sightings of fugitive Cpl. Cesar Laurean
  • Marines investigating handling of Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach's case
  • Adult, fetus found in shallow grave by Laurean's home Saturday
  • Lauterbach had accused Laurean of rape
  • Next Article in Crime »
Decrease font

JACKSONVILLE, North Carolina (CNN) -- A city marshal in Shreveport, Louisiana, cast doubt Sunday on reported sightings there of a man charged with murder in the death of a pregnant Marine.

A warrant has been issued for Marine Cpl. Cesar Laurean, who's been charged with murder in Lauterbach's death.

Authorities in North Carolina have charged Marine Cpl. Cesar Armando Laurean with murder in the death of a fellow Marine, Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach, 20. She was eight months pregnant when last reported seen.

Sheriff Ed Brown of Onslow County, North Carolina, said Sunday that "several witnesses ... validated" a report that Laurean was in a bus station in Shreveport, Louisiana.

Brown said someone who looked like the 5-foot, 9-inch, 160-pound suspect was seen either on a bus or getting off a bus that was heading to Texas, but cautioned, "That doesn't mean he has to be tied to going that same direction."

However, Chief Deputy Charlie Caldwell of the Shreveport Marshal's Office told CNN affiliate KSLA-TV that he knew of no evidence that Laurean was in Louisiana.

"We haven't had any confirmed sightings of [that] individual," he said.

Earlier Sunday, Brown's office said it had received "numerous pieces of information that we believe are credible," some of which "put us less than two hours behind the fugitive."

The sheriff qualified that statement on Sunday afternoon, saying, "I'm not going to put a timeline on anything we do.

"I feel like that the law enforcement agencies in this country are on his trail, and I'm not going to tell you that he will be here tonight, but I do feel comfortable that his vacation may be short," the sheriff said.

Laurean, 21, of Nevada, is believed to have been driving a black Dodge pickup with North Carolina license plate TRR1522.

The sheriff described him as "dangerous," especially if cornered. Watch how events have unfolded in the case »

The remains of an adult and a fetus were found Saturday in a shallow grave in Laurean's backyard in North Carolina, Brown announced Saturday.

Authorities have not positively identified the body as Lauterbach's.

Don't Miss

"This is consistent with what we were looking for: A pregnant lady who is the victim Maria Lauterbach and her unborn child," Brown said.

The body was charred, and the fetus was in the victim's abdomen, Brown said, describing the scene.

The fetus was developed enough that the "little hand was about the size of my thumb. The little fingers were rolled up," he said.

"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."

The remains were taken to the Onslow County medical examiner's office. They will next be sent to the chief medical examiner in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, for DNA testing and comparison with dental records.

Lauterbach was eight months pregnant when she disappeared from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, in mid-December, not long before she was to testify at a military hearing about her rape accusation against Laurean.

Lauterbach's relatives believe her pregnancy was the result of the alleged rape, said Lauterbach's uncle, Peter Steiner, a Kentucky psychiatrist.

Laurean, 21, of Nevada, is believed to have left the base at 4 a.m. Friday, and a nationwide manhunt is under way.

Investigators said that Laurean vanished four hours before his wife, Christina, approached Brown with a note from her husband claiming that Lauterbach had committed suicide, and he buried the body.

Brown said Friday that blood spatter evidence was found inside Laurean's home, even on a ceiling. There was evidence of "an attempted cleanup," including an attempt to paint over the blood spatter, he said.

"Evidence now is saying what he's claiming happened did not happen like he said it happened," Brown said of Laurean.

Lauterbach's mother, Mary Lauterbach, reported the young woman as missing from Camp Lejeune on December 19. Mary Lauterbach said she had not talked with her daughter for five days.

Military officials said Laurean was not taken into custody after Lauterbach reported the alleged rape because there was information the two carried on "some sort of friendly relationship" after she filed the complaint against him.

Steiner disputed that and said his niece had no relationship with Laurean. See a timeline of the case »

In a statement issued Sunday evening, the Marines said they are investigating what information Lauterbach's superiors had and what steps were taken regarding the case.

"It is premature to discuss those actions until the review is completed," said Lt. Col. Curtis Hill, a Marine Corps spokesman. E-mail to a friend

CNN's Ed Lavandera contributed to this report.

Copyright 2008 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

All About U.S. Marine CorpsMissing Persons

  • E-mail
  • Save
  • Print