So many loose ends to tie up and complaints to go over, it is no wonder Sheriff Ed "the diviner" Brown has gone into hiding, for Christ sake even I am having chest pains and fits of anger because of this case. Recently I have begun to work with a woman that was also raped by man while serving in the Marines, was pregnant and suffered similar harassment with her rape complaint that Maria complained about. This woman I am working with said that the Marines told her that, "She is not the victim of the rape, she is only a witness, the Marine Corps is the victim."
You take into consideration that the Marines offered up a detailed counterintelligence briefing to national and international reporters that took up 32 pages of notes. Everything was covered, Maria said she had no longer felt threatened, the baby did not belong to Laurean and she would like to drop the rape charges. The Marines did everything they could for her, including pressing for a hearing just in case she was lying. So taking everything into concideration, according to the Marine Command, Maria couldn't be helped.
When the Sheriff was told that America's Most Wanted would cover this manhunt for fugitive Cesar Armando Laurean if, and only if, the Sheriff would give them an exclusive. The Sheriff apparently agreed to their demands and withheld video footage of Laurean, or a look-a-like, withdrawing $400 from Maria Lauterbach's account at an ATM on Christmas Eve and buying items at the Lowes Home Improvement store. Never mind that the person at the ATM was sans-tattoo and the person at Lowes was misidentified in the original release as the friend that accompanied him in Cesar's home improvement shopping.
Before the first press conference, when Sheriff Brown asked for the media's help in locating a missing pregnant Marine, word was already out to us that this missing Marine was a rape victim. A rape that happened on base by another Marine, one of superior rank. Shortly after that an email began circulating that went into detail about the rape and identified Laurean (the email spelled it Lauren and so later did the Sheriff in his first release looking for the suspect) specifically as the rapist. When I asked the Sheriff about this rape allegation he said that there was nothing to it. I even suggested that he get a copy of the email to track the IP address since the person had obvious knowledge of the situation. He claimed it wasn't necessary. He believed Maria to be alive and hiding out, I was convinced he knew what he was talking about..."off the record."
But as we all know the story took a dramatic, made for TV, twist and a woman and her innocent, soon to be born child were said to be both dead and buried and that a manhunt had begun for a man, the same man, Maria accused of raping her twice last spring. that man, Cesar Armando Laurean, had at least a 6 hour head start on the posse'.
The night Maria Lauterbach was said to have been murdered, Christina Smith Laurean, wife of suspected murderer Cesar Laurean, was at a December 14th Christmas Party on the base. Maria Lauterbach had told her mother that she was going to the same party even though she said she knew Cesar Laurean would be there. This is also the same day that Maria and her mother Mary had an argument about whether it was a good idea for Maria to keep the baby she had been carrying for the prior 8 1/2 months. The mother asked Maria to call her when she got home from the party. She never heard from her again.
Lauterbach had accused Laurean of two separate rapes in May, claiming they occurred in March and April of 2007. Since there was a delay in reporting the rapes, the military was unwilling to take her word for it and file immediate charges against Laurean, the best they could do was to separate them into different work areas, but even so, when meetings were called both Maria and Cesar were put back together in the same room. Both worked the same job. Maria was scheduled to testify at an upcoming military hearing about her accusations and she was extremely nervous about doing that. Since the Marines were unwilling to believe her, they wanted to test the baby's DNA to prove the rape since Maria claimed the father of the baby was her rapist. In November, the Marine's claim Maria said that the baby's father was not Cesar Laurean but friends and family dispute that claim by the military. Even if Maria did make a statement to that effect to the Marines, this was a period of time in her life where she had felt as if the military had abandoned her. She left the base and moved in with her friend Sgt. Daniel Durham who was scheduled to be shipped to Iraq after the first of the year and offered his house to Maria as a place of refuge and support. She was looking forward to raising her child there once he was born. (ABC News is reporting the child was a girl) Maria had several threatening experiences just prior to leaving the base, she suffered a physical attack when a stranger walked up to her, called out her name and slugged her in the face. Maria also had her car vandalized. However, the most difficult situation involved an encounter with Christina Laurean outside a store, when Ms. Laurean confronted Maria calling her a "bitch" and demanding to know, "What are you doing to us?"
However, that didn't prevent Maria Lautenbach from encounters with Laurean at mandatory meetings, her mother said.
"Maria, this is ridiculous. You have a restraining order on this guy," Mary Lauterbach said she told her daughter during one conversation. "I said you need to complain to somebody and tell them you're just not going to go."
Maria was still so frightened in the late fall, that according to an unnamed friend, she had asked to extend the Military Protective Order (MPO) that was taken out against Marine Cesar Laurean back in May. The friend claimed she was the one who encouraged Maria to take it out and filled the forms out for her to submit to command.
The 14th of December is the last anyone heard from Maria, the mom hung up with her at 2:30, at 4:20 Maria withdraws $700 from her bank's ATM.
On the night of the 14th Maria's roommate David Durham finds a note at the house saying, "I could not take this Marine Corps life anymore. So I'm going away. Sorry for the inconvenience, Maria." Several personal items were missing, toothbrush, clothing etc. Durham phones Maria's family to let them know and pleads with them to not alert the Marines about her leaving so that Maria would not get into trouble.
On the 15th someone purchases a one-way bus ticket in Jacksonville for a trip to El Paso, Texas. The approximate cost for that ticket would have been less than $200. The ticket was in the name of Maria Lauterbach.
December 24th a man looking a lot like Cesar Laurean makes a withdraw from Maria's bank account. The withdrawal is captured on video at the ATM. The person attempts to block the camera by holding a rag up to the camera's lens. He withdraws $400. Also a man matching the description of Cesar Laurean enters the Lowes Home Improvement Center with another man and purchases shovels, cement blocks and a wheelbarrow. The Laureans hold a cookout that night for friends and neighbors and create a bonfire in their backyard.
January 7th Maria's blue 2006 Hyundai Sonata was found parked in the bus station parking lot by a Jacksonville Police officer. The car with a large stuffed bear sitting in the back seat and her luggage in the trunk was said to have been there since December 15th. Onslow County Sheriff issues a concern at a press conference for Lance Cpl. Maria Frances Lauterbach of Midway Park in Jacksonville, saying he has reason to consider this more than a walkaway.
Jan. 8 - Deputies meet with Laurean in the afternoon to question him as a witness, not a suspect. He declines to speak and requests time off from his job at Camp Lejeune to meet with his attorneys. He hires 3 attorneys and returns to the Sheriff's Office and does not answer any questions.
January 9th the Sheriff is notified by NCIS (military investigators) that Cesar Armando Laurean was accused by Maria to have been a person who raped her on two occasions and was the recipient of a MPO.
January 9th Laurean does not report to work and requests more time off to meet with his civilian attorneys. On the way to the lawyers office he tells his wife that Maria came to the house on the 14th demanding money and in a fit of rage slit her own throat with a knife she had carried with her into the house. He apparently tells the same story to the lawyers.
January 10th at approximate 4AM Laurean high tails it out of town. Christina Laurean comes into the Sheriff's Office around 10 with a note she says was left behind by her husband claiming he had buried Maria in the woods near their house. By the end of the day the sheriffs deputies and SBI had located the remains of Maria and her unborn baby in a backyard firepit behind the Laurean home.
Authorities investigating the crime scene discover a bloody mess that had been carefully cleaned and painted over. Blood splatters on the ceiling and stains on the cement floor and walls in the garage. Preliminary autopsy reports show Maria died as a result of a blunt force trauma. The murder weapon is said to be a crowbar.
Laurean's truck, registered to Salvador Laurean and not Cesar, is located behind a Microtel Hotel across the interstate from the Raleigh Durham Airport. The truck was parked nose in and the license tag was not removed. Earlier the prior morning a jogger discovered the military ID and bank card belonging to Maria Lauterbach on top of some vegetation at the Durham Bus Station, locate across the street from the Durham Police Department.
A manhunt is called out by the state authorities and FBI to find and arrest Cesar Laurean for the death of 20 year old Maria Lauterbach. Searchers claim Laurean may have made it to his Mexican homeland, estimating he had as much as $5,000 in cash with him when he fled.
Why would Maria withdraw $700?
Why would she leave a note to her friend instead of calling him saying she was "leaving"
What time was the Christmas party on base?
What time was it over?
What time does Cesar allege that Maria came over and killed herself?
How did her car get to the bus station the next day if she drove it to the Laurean's?
What reason did Cesar give to his wife to excuse himself from the party?
Why would Christina go without him?
Where was their 18th month old daughter when Maria is said to have come over?
What time was the bus ticket purchased?
Where was Cesar at 4:20, the time Maria withdrew $700 from the ATM?
Were the clothes seen in the ATM video of Maria making her withdrawal found at her house or in her suitcase or were they supposed to on her when she died?
When do authorities believe Maria was buried? When do they think Laurean attempted to burn her?
What reason did the note left behind by Cesar and delivered to authorities give as to why Maria came over?
Both Maria and Cesar had Myspace accounts, both were set to private. Is there any evidence that the two of them communicated by computer?
In the search of Laurean and Lauterbach's phone records is there any evidence that the two of them had any conversations with each other in December?
Who on Maria Lauterbach's phone records were contacted by authorities regarding her missing status?
Why weren't neighbors of Maria's contacted between the first report of her being missing on December 19th and the 9th of January?
Why would an attorney say "you're facing the death penalty" if you tell him that Maria killed herself?
Where did the money come from to retain 3 lawyers from 3 different law firms come from?
Why did it take until January 9th for the military to confirm the rape allegations to the Sheriff?
Was the baby delivered during the brutal attack on Maria?
Why was there such a crumb trail leading investigators towards Mexico if the subject wanted to escape detection? ID and bank card left in open at bus station, truck parked nose in so license plate was visible, bus ticket to El Paso, letters from Houston.
Why was Cesar Laurean NOT a flight risk prior to January 11th if he was seen on the ATM machine using Maria's bank card?
Why does it appear that there is no tattoo on the shoulder of the man making reported to be Laurean making the withdrawal in the ATM video?