JACKSONVILLE, N.C. — A 20-year-old pregnant Marine who disappeared in December told victims’ advocates at Camp Lejeune that she didn’t feel unsafe in the presence of the colleague now wanted in her death, Marine Corps officials said Tuesday.
Marine Cpl. Cesar Armando Laurean continued to report for work on time in the weeks after Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach’s disappearance and denied having any kind of sexual contact with her, said Col. Gary Sokoloski, judge advocate general officer for the II Marine Expeditionary Force.
“At no time did she indicate that she was threatened by Corporal Laurean,” Sokoloski said.
Authorities confirmed Tuesday that remains found over the weekend in a fire pit in Laurean’s backyard were those of Lauterbach and her child. Dr. Charles Garrett, the Onslow County medical examiner, said Lauterbach, who was eight months pregnant when she vanished, died of “head injury due to blunt force trauma.”
The autopsy did not answer all the questions about the circumstances of Lauterbach’s death, county prosecutor Dewey Hudson said. Detectives are unsure about whether she gave birth before her death and the identity of the father.
Marine officials said Tuesday that Lauterbach met with prosecutors in November and said she no longer believed Laurean was the father.
A pregnancy test performed in May, when she alleged that Laurean, who is from Las Vegas, had raped her in March and April, was negative. A test done in June was positive, and doctors estimated the date of conception was May 14.
Naval investigators concluded the encounter in March was not criminal, said Paul Ciccarelli, an agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. The pair had a second sexual encounter about two weeks later that didn’t include any threats, force, violence or coercion, Ciccarelli said.
“She asked him to stop, and he did stop,” Ciccarelli said, saying that was the account Lauterbach gave to officials.
She still considered both to be incidents of rape, and Lauterbach’s regimental commander treated her allegations seriously. Her commander was intent on taking the case to an Article 32 hearing, the military equivalent of a grand jury proceeding.