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