FBI: Marine said he’d go to Mexico to dodge case

The Marine’s wife also said she believed her husband would head to Mexico.

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (AP) — A Marine suspected of killing a pregnant comrade told friends he would flee to Mexico to avoid being convicted of raping her, and investigators said Wednesday they are working with Mexican authorities to track him down.

A wide-ranging manhunt for Cpl. Cesar Armando Laurean began last week, after authorities said he fled North Carolina and left a note in which he admitted burying the body of Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach, but said she committed suicide. The 20-year-old had accused him of rape.

Investigators found Lauterbach’s burned remains, and those of her child, in a fire pit in Laurean’s backyard and concluded she did not kill herself.

Court documents filed this week by the FBI state that Laurean, 21, told members of his Marine Corps unit he would flee to Mexico if it appeared he would be found guilty of rape. Laurean’s wife also told authorities she believed he would head to Mexico if he was in trouble.

“We strongly suspect, but have not confirmed, that Laurean may be in Mexico,” FBI spokesman Richard Kolko said in Washington. “We have a strong working relationship with law enforcement partners in Mexico and we’re working with them to locate and apprehend him.”

Laurean, 21, of Las Vegas, is a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Mexico and still has some family there, authorities said.

The court documents are included with an FBI criminal complaint charging Laurean with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. He is also wanted in North Carolina on a state arrest warrant for murder.

Laurean appears to have mailed letters back to his wife in North Carolina, according to two law enforcement officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation.

It was not immediately clear what the letters said, how many of them were sent or where they were sent from, but one of the officials said at least one of the letters was postmarked from Houston.

Authorities have said Laurean’s wife, Christina Laurean, is cooperating with authorities and provided them with the note her husband left before skipping town.

Lauterbach died of “traumatic head injury due to blunt force trauma,” according to autopsy results released Tuesday. But authorities said the exam failed to answer all the questions detectives have about Lauterbach’s death, including whether she gave birth before her death and of the identity of the father.

Authorities believe Lauterbach was killed around Dec. 15. Marine officials have they attempted to find her after she failed to report to work on Dec. 17, but had evidence — including a note left for her roommate in which she wrote she was tired of the Marine Corps lifestyle — that led them to believe she left on her own.