Cesar Laurean remains in a Mexican jail a year after an international search for him began

Reported by Lynda Figueredo - bio|email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

ONSLOW COUNTY, NC (WECT) - In January 2008, an international search began for a Marine who was accused of murdering a missing pregnant Marine and her baby.

A year later, the case isn't closed and may not be for months or years to come.

On December 19, 2007, Lance Corporal Maria Lauterbach was reported missing.  A week later, her fellow Marine, Cesar Laurean, was spotted on surveillance video using Lauterbach's ATM card.

After a month of searching for the missing woman, a tip led investigators to Laurean's home in Jacksonville.

The remains of Lauterbach and her unborn baby were found savagely murdered, burned, and buried in the backyard of Laurean's home.

During a news conference on January 15, 2008 military officials spoke out about the incident and revealed a new twist.

Seven months earlier, Lauterbach had accused Laurean, a married Marine with an 18-month-old daughter, of raping her.

Before fleeing to Mexico, Laurean left a note saying Lauterbach had committed suicide by slashing her own throat, but a preliminary autopsy report showed Lauterbach died from a blow to the head.

January 24, 2008, an Onslow Grand Jury indicted Laurean on several charges, including murder and credit card fraud.

Several months later, Mexican police captured Laurean at a road block in San Juadina, Mexico on April 10, 2008.

Authorities hoped they would catch the Marine in America, because Mexico bans capital punishment and refused to turn over Laurean unless the death penalty was taken off the table.

Now, Laurean faces life in prison without parole, if he's ever brought back to Onslow County.

Mary Lauterbach, the missing Marine's mother, said she didn't think authorities would find Laurean once he had left the United States.

Laurean is fighting to stay south of the border.  He was ordered to be extradited to North Carolina in September, but has since appealed that ruling.

Now, a year after the case began, Laurean remains in Mexican prison while prosecutors and the Lauterbach's wait for justice to be served.

Prosecutors believe Laurean may be extradited sometime in 2009.