Crime

Missing Marine claimed rape

A pregnant Marine who has been missing for three weeks told her stepmother that a superior officer had raped her and threatened her military career because of the allegations, according to court documents.

But affidavits and investigative reports in Onslow County also include skepticism about the allegations of Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach, 20, of Montgomery, Ohio.

Lauterbach's stepmother said Maria Lauterbach was eight months pregnant and suffers from bipolar disorder. She has "a history of being a compulsive liar and it was difficult at times to know what was true in her case," Mary S. Lauterbach of Vandalia, Ohio, told Onslow County Sheriff's Office investigators.

Mary Lauterbach also told them she "had a firm conversation" with her stepdaughter, telling her that she would have to give up her baby after it was born because she felt the younger woman could not care for it.

It was the Marine's stepmother who reported her missing last month. Lauterbach's family reported that Maria Lauterbach usually called several times a week, but hasn't been heard from since Dec. 14, according to the warrant.

The report said Maria Lauterbach "claimed that she had been raped by a senior officer at her command and that the investigation had gone sour."

An Onslow investigator contacted the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, the report said, and was told "an open case as to the sexual assault was active at Camp Lejeune, however, it was difficult due to inconsistencies provided by Maria Lauterbach."

The military did confirm that "Ms. Lauterbach was facing a possible discharge from the Marine Corps," the report stated.

A spokesman for Camp Lejeune was not available for comment Thursday.

Onslow County Sheriff Ed Brown said Thursday at a news conference that the investigation is still a missing persons case. He said he would not discuss the rape allegations or speculate about Lauterbach's disappearance.

"I'm not going to say anything about that," he said. "That's military related."

The sheriff said he did not know who was the father of Lauterbach's unborn child.

Brown said Maria Lauterbach's roommate, a Marine sergeant who has been temporarily assigned to a California base for training, is being returned to North Carolina for more questioning because he may have been the last person to talk with Lauterbach before she disappeared.

Daniel Durham was interviewed by the sheriff's investigator when she was first reported missing in December. Durham said then that they had only been roommates for a short period of time. He had "made his home available" to Lauterbach because he was sympathetic to her situation, the report states.

He told investigators she had been upset with her stepmother, and that he thought she just decided to go somewhere because some of her clothes and cosmetics also were missing.

Court documents also indicate that investigators are seeking to search the records of the Western Union Co. for information about transfers of money to Lauterbach from Dec. 10 through this past Wednesday. Onslow County Deputy John Dubois said in affidavit that Lauterbach "might be receiving financial support via the electronic transfer of funds."

Lauterbach, who joined the Marine Corps in June 2006, trained as a personnel clerk. She lived in the Midway Park housing area, which is not part of Camp Lejeune. Investigators said her cell phone was found near the housing area and her abandoned car was found Monday night at a Jacksonville bus station.

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