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Friend of Marine on the run: 'He's like MacGyver'

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  • NEW: Suspected murder weapon turned into sheriff's office
  • Fugitive Marine's friend describes him as well trained and adaptable
  • Marine can rig just about anything and can handle weapons, friend says
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(CNN) -- A woman who once worked with fugitive Marine Cpl. Cesar Laurean and the pregnant Marine he allegedly killed said Wednesday that Laurean has "MacGyver" skills and training that could enable him to adapt to life on the run.

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Marine Cpl. Cesar Laurean, wanted for murder, may have fled to his native Mexico.

The woman requested that she remain anonymous.

Earlier Wednesday, an FBI spokesman said the agency suspects Laurean may have returned to his native Mexico.

On Thursday, the Onslow County, North Carolina, sheriff's office said it has recovered what may be the weapon used to kill Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach.

A witness turned over the weapon to the sheriff's office last week, Capt. Rick Sutherland said. It has been taken to the state crime lab in Raleigh to determine if it was used in the murder.

On Wednesday, Laurean's former co-worker, who left the Marines in December, described Laurean as well-trained to adapt to his situation.

He can rig just about anything -- as could the lead character in the "MacGyver" television series of 1985 to 1992 -- is strong, a fast runner and can handle weapons, including an M-16, she said.

She said Laurean is quiet but social, and has many friends. He often spoke to her about his 18-month-old daughter. Video Watch the friend describe Laurean's personality »

The woman said she has been a friend of Laurean for about four years; they were employed in the Personnel Department at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

She expressed shock that he was being sought in the slaying of Lauterbach, whose charred remains and those of her fetus were found Friday in a pit in Laurean's backyard. Lauterbach, 20, was reported missing December 19, when she was about eight months pregnant.

Laurean has been charged with first-degree murder in her death.

The friend told CNN: "It's an incredibly surreal experience for me to see someone I was personally acquainted with and friends with on a wanted poster. I just can't wrap my mind around the fact he would've brutally murdered someone."

Lauterbach had been set to testify against Laurean at a military hearing after she accused him of raping her.

The friend said Lauterbach confided in her that she had consensual sex with Laurean, but that a verbal argument had occurred, and the alleged rape followed in Laurean's office at Camp Lejeune.

The March encounter was judged to be "not criminal in nature," or consensual, said Col. Gary Sokoloski, staff judge advocate for the II Marine Expeditionary Force. The second encounter, in April, involved no threats or force, Lauterbach said.

The woman said Lauterbach told her she feared Laurean, and sought a protective order, which expired in September.

Officials have indicated that was the only such order, but the woman told CNN Lauterbach came to her a second time and had her prepare a second protective order, which was in force when Lauterbach died.

"She came in September when her original military protective order had expired, asking whether she could have, A, a copy of the original one and, B, a second one put into place," the woman said.

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She also said Lauterbach told her she was thinking about withdrawing the rape allegation because she didn't think officials were taking her seriously.

There is no way Lauterbach and Laurean had a relationship after the alleged rape, the friend said, disputing information from authorities who have said the two maintained contact after the alleged rape. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Randi Kaye contributed to this report

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