Skip to main content

Suspect in pregnant Marine's death to return to U.S. on Friday

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: Mexico to extradite Cpl. Cesar Laurean on Friday for murder trial, FBI says
  • Camp Lejeune spokesman: Laurean to be tried in civilian court in N.C.
  • Laurean accused of killing Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach, 20, in 2007
  • Laurean, 22, was captured in Mexico after four-month manhunt
  • Next Article in Crime »
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font

(CNN) -- The suspected killer of a 20-year-old pregnant Marine will be extradited from Mexico to the United States on Friday to stand trial in her death, the FBI said Thursday.

Marine Cpl. Cesar Laurean, 22, was arrested in Mexico in April 2008 after a four-month manhunt.

Marine Cpl. Cesar Laurean, 22, was arrested in Mexico in April 2008 after a four-month manhunt.

Marine Cpl. Cesar Laurean, 22, was arrested in Mexico in April 2008. He has been indicted on charges that include first-degree murder in the death of Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach.

Lauterbach was eight months pregnant when she disappeared in December 2007; her charred body and that of her fetus were found beneath a fire pit in Laurean's back yard near Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, where both were stationed, in January 2008.

Laurean will stand trial in Onslow County, North Carolina. The FBI will be handling the extradition, according to the Onslow County Sheriff's Office.

North Carolina prosecutors allege Laurean killed Lauterbach on December 14 and used her ATM card 10 days later before fleeing to Mexico. He was arrested in San Juan Vina in the Mexican state of Michoacan. Because he holds dual citizenship in the United States and Mexico, he could not be immediately deported and had to go through the extradition process, authorities have said.

Laurean will go into the civilian jail in Onslow County and stand trial in a civilian court, said Camp Lejeune spokesman Maj. Cliff Gilmore. He was listed as a deserter shortly after he disappeared following Lauterbach's death. He remains on deserter status, but is still considered an active-duty Marine, Gilmore said.

"When Cesar Laurean is returned to Onslow County, he will be treated like any other inmate in our detention center and he will be prosecuted by the district attorney's office," Rick Sutherland, inspector general of the Onslow County Sheriff's Office, said in a written statement.

The FBI said in a news release Thursday the sheriff's office asked for help in locating Laurean after he disappeared January 12, 2008.

If convicted, Laurean would face a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole. Mexico's extradition policy prohibits U.S. authorities from seeking the death penalty against fugitives it hands over.

Asked by a Mexican reporter at the time of his arrest whether he killed Lauterbach, Laurean replied, "I loved her."

Authorities found Lauterbach's body after Laurean's wife, Christina, produced a note her husband had written claiming the 20-year-old woman slit her own throat during an argument, according to officials.

Although a gaping 4-inch wound was found on the left side of Lauterbach's neck, autopsy results indicated that the wound itself would not have been fatal and may have occurred after death. Lauterbach died from blunt-force trauma to the head, according to the autopsy.

Prosecutors have said there was no evidence that Christina Laurean was involved in or aware of Lauterbach's slaying before she gave the note to authorities. As part of the effort to apprehend Laurean, authorities had seized a computer belonging to his sister-in-law that Christina Laurean was using to communicate with her husband, a law enforcement official had told CNN.

Lauterbach had accused Laurean of raping her, and it is unclear whether he was the father of her unborn child. Her relatives have said they believe he was. Laurean had denied the rape allegation and said he had had no sexual contact with Lauterbach.

Mary Lauterbach, the slain woman's mother, has said she's unconvinced that the Marine Corps took her daughter's rape allegation and other allegations of harassment seriously. Relatives claimed Lauterbach's car was keyed and that an anonymous person had punched her in the face. "Those particular actions should have been taken much more seriously because the Marines were aware of them," she has said.

In a statement issued after Lauterbach's death, the Marine Corps said Laurean's denial of the rape allegation "was believed to be significant evidence."

CNN's Larry Shaughnessy contributed to this report.

All About Cesar LaureanMurder and HomicideMexicoExtradition

  • E-mail
  • Save
  • Print