Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Murdered Marine: Friend challenges official story



Randi Kaye spoke with a friend of the suspect who also knew the murdered Marine.
WATCH





________________________________________

Randi Kaye
360 Correspondent

I spent a couple hours this morning with a friend of Corporal Cesar Laurean. (WATCH)

This was our first talk with someone who knows him and knows about the relationship he had with the woman he's accused of killing.

I'm not naming the friend to protect her from any possible retaliation, but I thought you'd want to know what she told me. For the purpose of this blog, I'll call her "Lisa."

You probably know Laurean is the U.S. Marine charged with one count of first degree murder in the death of Lance Corporal Maria Lauterbach and her unborn child.


Their charred remains were found last week buried in a fire pit in his backyard. Authorities say they also found blood spatters inside his home.

Lauterbach had accused Laurean of rape and was expected to testify about the allegations in December, the same month she disappeared.

Lisa says she knew Laurean about four years. They worked side by side. She saw him daily. She also knew Lauterbach.

Lisa told me Laurean is a quiet guy, very social. She said everyone liked him and he had a lot of friends.

She also said he's a great father, who talked often about his 18-month-old daughter. Lisa has a daughter the same age and the two discussed sippy cups and diapers.

Hard to believe someone who discusses sippy cups and diapers could be capable of such a brutal murder.

You may recall the Marines came out yesterday and said Lauterbach told them she did not feel threatened by Laurean. Keeping them honest, we asked Lisa about that. She believes that just wasn't true.

Lauterbach had obtained a Military Protective Order prohibiting Laurean from contacting her or coming within 1000 feet.

Lisa says Lauterbach came to her in September, 2007, after the order had expired and wanted help asking for a second one.

Lisa says she typed up the request and sent it to the proper channels. So she says, Lauterbach DID have a current and valid protective order against Laurean when she disappeared, even though Sheriff Ed Brown, the lead investigator, had been telling the media it was expired. The Marines didn't address this question yesterday.

Lisa told me today Lauterbach was afraid of Laurean and that she didn't want to be around him. She says Lauterbach told her the two had had consensual sex before, but that a verbal argument had occurred, and the alleged rape followed.

The rape allegedly took place last spring in Laurean's office at Camp Lejeune. Lauterbach and Laurean had been working side-by-side since December 2006 in the personnel department. Lisa says Lauterbach was moved to another office after she came forward with the allegations.

I asked Lisa about how the Marines handled the rape allegations. She told me, "her staff non-commissioned officer in charge came in and told our commanding officer that there was basically no basis to the allegation, that Laurean was a good marine and that of the two of them, his credibility was significantly higher and there wasn't anything to hold him or charge him on."

A spokesman for the Marines declined to respond in detail, but did tell us this: "Regardless of whether or not something like that was said, her commanding officer took the allegation seriously, was working with NCIS and trial counsel to develop evidence and determine what charges, if any, would be preferred."

Lisa tells me Lauterbach never talked to her about how she got pregnant. Lisa didn't even know she was pregnant until she was in her fifth month. She says the Marines don't require you to divulge who the father is.

When Lauterbach first disappeared, Lisa says she didn't believe she was in danger. She thought it was just an Unauthorized Absence, which is what the Marines say they believed, too.

Lisa told me that Lauterbach had disappeared once before. Lisa says when Laurean was named as the key suspect, even when he was charged with first degree murder, she still couldn't believe he had anything to do with it.

She told me, "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."

When Laurean was first named as a suspect, his wife came forward with a note that she said she'd found at home and that he'd written. It said Lauterbach had taken her own life and he'd buried her in the backyard.

Lisa doesn't buy it. She told me, "If somebody comes to my house and kills themself, I wouldn't bury her in the backyard, I'd call the cops."

Lisa says she isn't sure if Lauterbach knew Laurean was married. He didn't wear a wedding ring or keep a picture of his wife on his desk.

Lisa had met Laurean's wife numerous times, and tells me she is "the jealous type.... she was very interested in putting out, 'this is my husband and no one else is gonna take him from me.' " When asked whether Laurean's wife was a suspect, the sheriff declined to say. Police did say she was the one who directed police toward her husband.

With Laurean on the run, I wondered about his survival skills. Lisa says he'd been trained to type really well, but he could also shoot an M-16, and run really fast. She says she believes he's probably getting help from family or friends. But she says she has not heard from him and doesn't know anyone who has.

Finally, I asked her if Laurean and Lauterbach were on friendly terms, after Lauterbach came forward with the rape allegations. The Marines yesterday said they were and that's why Laurean had not been considered a suspect or a flight risk.

Lisa says Lauterbach tried to stay as far away from him as she could.

These are just some of the highlights. She was a fascinating interview and I hope you tune into 360 tonight to watch the complete interview. I don't think you'll be able to pull yourself away.

Please let me know what you think. And thank you.
Posted By CNN: 12:26 PM ET
  13 Comments
Randi,
Thanks for the update. It seems like there is no end to the cover ups in this case! No wonder Laurean got away and is thought to be in Mexico! It seemed as if EVERYONE dropped the ball here!

Looking forward to seeing your report tonight.

Cynthia, Covington, Ga.
Posted By Blogger Cindy : 2:11 PM ET
I think once again, it proves we really don't know what goes on in another person's home, or in their minds. Sadly, what ifs and whys never help bring back the victim.

Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif.
Posted By Blogger Lorie Ann : 2:35 PM ET
Hi Randi,
You are doing a great job!Its indeed hard at times to believe such harsh facts about the person you think you know very well.I am sure the law will definitely find him from where ever he is. And yes I will wait to see your inteview with LISA tonight on AC360.
Be Safe
Tanuja, Mississauga, ON
Posted By Blogger tanuja : 2:37 PM ET
Where is the wife now? For someone whom appears (based on "Lisa's" comments) to be a devoted father, I have a hard time thinking he'd just up and leave. And if the wife is as jealous as indicated, is she considered a suspect? Because he may have buried Lauterbach does not necessarily mean he killed her -- quite possibly he is protecting his wife?

This whole story - from the Marines to the police to the lack of cooperation -- just seems like a really bad made-for-TV movie.

I hope there is an outcome very soon so that Lauterbach and her child can rest in peace.
Posted By Anonymous Lisa, Elk Gove, CA : 2:49 PM ET
Hi Randi,
"Lisa" unfolded a very disfunctional Laurean. He seems highly suspect to me.
The jealous wife, no wedding band, and the story of Lauterbach taking her own life and Laurean burying her in his back yard! You don't have to be Sherlock to smell a rat!
If Laurean is innocent then why is he on the run?
When they catch him, and they will, I hope they throw the book at him.
Thanks for the report Randi. I will be glued to the tube to see how this murder mystery unveils.
fasinatingly tragic~
Posted By Blogger Betty Ann : 2:59 PM ET
Great story, I'll watch more of interview.
Posted By Blogger doghenry : 3:25 PM ET
I have never seen so much BS in all my life.

It appears this case has been handled by an incompetent local police department and an indifferent US Marine Corps.

Sherriff Brown has made several rambling statements on live TV that have no relevance to this matter. This guy is way out of his league. Onslow County, please, please, please call in an official spokesperson so the public can be kept reasonably informed.

Lt Col Curtis Hill stated last night the Marine Corps didn’t consider Laurean a threat to anyone because continued to show up to work on time. What a crock! Unfortunately this demonstrates the USMC is no place to send your daughters unless you want to see them treated like second class citizens or even dead.

Just a thought - if it was common knowledge that Laurean had sexual relationship with this girl, why wasn’t he charged with adultery? As all military members know, adultery is a chargeable offense under the Uniform Code of Military Justice
Posted By Anonymous KB in NC : 4:07 PM ET
It was an excellent interview...all the right questions and all the answers fit. You want to get as close as you possibly can to your victim so you can feel her thoughts and feelings. You did that with this interview.

I am going to miss it on 360 tonight and I am very disappointed.
Posted By Anonymous T3023 : 5:01 PM ET
Randi

I am really looking forward to this report. It sounds fascinating.

I have wondered since Lauterbach was so afraid of Laurean why was she at his house where it sounds like the murder took place? Especially if she had a 2nd order of protection out on him. That just doesn't make sense to me.

Thanks for delving so deeply into this case. You're doing a great job at uncovering facts we may have never known otherwise. Do you feel like you're peeling an onion - that for each layer you uncover you find another layer underneath?

Annie Kate
Birmingham AL
Posted By Blogger Annie Kate : 5:14 PM ET
Randi:

I look forward to the entire interview tonight. I think you may be opening up this case. ONE person needs to ask and get answers to this mystery instead of letting two law agencies bat this case back and forth. Please speak for the victim(s). Let us see what really happened.
Posted By Anonymous Sandi : 5:35 PM ET
Randi--
I think, since this case became really high-profile just after the investigation began, the people trying to compile information about Lauterbach (and Laurean and anyone else involved) have gotten sloppy trying to keep up with the pressure of the media hounding them for answers. It's awfully unfortunate for Lauterbach's family and friends that all this happened. I don't imagine they were prepared for this sort of media attention to come after several weeks of everyone ignoring their pleas for help in finding the woman.
My deepest sympathies go out to any and all who have been involved in this case, as well as former rape victims and the families of murder victims.

--Mari, MI
Posted By Anonymous Marine H : 5:55 PM ET
The whole thing is fishy and "Lisa's" info has added more to the confusion. If there is a jealous wife involved, it sounds to me as if she might've discovered the affair and pregnancy and done it since there was so much blood spatter found at the scene. Maybe Laurean ran to divert attention away from his wife.
Posted By Anonymous Missy, Los Angeles, CA : 7:01 PM ET
Looking foward to the interview. I have a feeling the wife was involved and the husband is trying to protect her. I hope this all ends soon.

SS-NC
Posted By Anonymous SS : 7:02 PM ET
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