Crime

Search for pregnant Marine intensifies

The disappearance last month of a Marine who was eight months pregnant has prompted a widespread search by military and civilian authorities.

Onslow County Sheriff Ed Brown said Tuesday he and family members had serious concerns about Maria Frances Lauterbach, 20, who has not been heard from since Dec. 14.

Her mother in Dayton, Ohio, reported her missing five days later.

"Evidence and findings thus far in the investigation, which I am not at liberty to disclose at this time, give me mixed feelings about the circumstances," Brown said at a news conference.

In a news release, the sheriff's department said Lauterbach's mother was "very suspicious that something bad may have happened."

Lauterbach worked with the 2nd Marine Logistics Group at the Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base in Jacksonville.

Brown said Lauterbach called her mother and other relatives up to 12 times a week. He said it was "totally out of character for the woman to stop calling abruptly."

Brown said investigators found Lauterbach's cell phone and her vehicle, which had been missing. He said an officer spotted the car at a bus station in Jacksonville last night while getting a snack.

The State Bureau of Investigation and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service are assisting in the investigation.

Brown asked that anyone with information call the sheriff's department at (910) 455-3113, the NCIS at (910) 451-8071 or Jacksonville Police at (910) 455-4000.

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