JACKSONVILLE -- Investigators Sunday pursued the reported sighting in Louisiana of a North Carolina-based Marine wanted for in connection with the death of a pregnant Marine in Jacksonville. Officials in Louisiana said the bus was bound for Texas. Onslow County Sheriff Ed Brown said authorities were hot on the trail of Cpl. Cesar Armando Laurean, 21, wherever he is headed.
“I do feel comfortable it will be a short trip, a short vacation for Mr. Laurean,” Brown told reporters outside his office.
Laurean, who is originally from Nevada but was stationed at Camp Lejeune, faces a first degree murder charge in the death of Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach, 20, of Ohio. in December. Authorities believe he killed Lauterbach, who was about eight months pregnant, burned and buried her in his back yard.
Lauterbach had accused Laurean of raping her.
Brown said three or four passengers saw a man they thought was Laurean. While those people were being questioned, investigators in Jacksonville conducted follow up interviews with Laurean’s neighbors. They also took his wife, Christina, back to their home in the Half Moon Community, where investigators found evidence of a violent, bloody incident.
The house has been cordoned off and marked as a crime scene.
Brown declined Sunday to answer questions about Mrs. Laurean. He said several days ago that she turned in a letter in which her husband said that he buried Lauterbach after she killed herself.
Wanda Alander, who lives next door to the Laureans, said Christine Laurean was brought to the house with officers about 1 p.m., went inside and left shortly.
“When I saw her in the police car, she kept her face down,” Alander said in an interview at the Onslow Sheriffs department. Richard Alander, Wanda’s husband, said the couple discussed additional recollections about the Laureans with investigators on Sunday. Alander and her husband, Richard, said earlier this week that Cesar Laurean had borrowed a shovel two or three weeks ago. They said Laurean used to tie his small poodle like dog to a tree in the backyard but had started tying the dog to a stake in the front yard. The tree in back was near a burn pit where authorities Saturday removed human remains they said they believed were those of Lauterbach and her unborn child.
Dr. Charles Garrett, Onslow County medical examiner, said the remains would be taken to the Chief Medical Examiner for further examination to determine identity and cause of death.
Brown said Saturday the scene, especially the baby’s tiny burned hand, was disturbing. It also indicated that Laurean was dangerous, the sheriff said.
“He would be dangerous if you got him in a bind,” he said.