Missing Marine
AP
In this undated photo released by the Onslow (N.C.) County Sheriff's office, Marine Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach is seen in this U.S. Marine Corps photo. The key suspect in the brutal slaying of the 20-year-old pregnant Marine was spotted in Louisiana and could be headed into Texas, authorities said Sunday, Jan. 13, 2008. (AP Photo/Onslow (N.C.) Sheriff via U.S. Marine Corps)
updated 1/17/2008 3:27:52 PM ET 2008-01-17T20:27:52

The wife of the key suspect in the slaying of a 20-year-old pregnant Marine waited almost 24 hours after learning of the woman’s death to go to authorities, according to court documents released Thursday.

The sheriff’s affidavit, which details the account Cpl. Cesar Armando Laurean’s wife gave to detectives, does not provide an explanation for why she waited. Police have consistently described her as a cooperating witness, and she does not face charges.

Laurean told his wife, Christina, while driving to their attorney’s office last Thursday that Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach visited the couple’s home on Dec. 15, demanded money and told him she planned to leave the area, according the affidavit.

He told his wife that he and Lauterbach purchased a bus ticket for her to El Paso, Texas, but that she later returned to their home and they began to argue. He claimed Lauterbach produced a knife and slit her own throat. Laurean also told his wife he then buried Lauterbach in the woods near their home, the documents state.

Laurean disappeared the next day, leaving behind a note in which he repeated his claims that Lauterbach killed herself. Investigators later found Lauterbach’s burned remains, and those of her child, in a fire pit in Laurean’s backyard.

The FBI has said he is believed to have fled to Mexico, and they are working with authorities there to track him down.

An autopsy determined Lauterbach died of blunt force trauma to the head. Authorities have said they don’t believe she committed suicide, citing a large amount of blood found on the walls and ceiling of Laurean’s home. Investigators used a chemical process to identify the blood evidence, finding that some of the blood had been disguised by washing and painting.

Authorities said Thursday they may have recovered the weapon used to kill Lauterbach. A witness gave investigators an item that could be the murder weapon, said Onslow County sheriff’s Captain Rick Sutherland. He declined to say who gave police the item last weekend and what it was.

Lauterbach died of “traumatic head injury due to blunt force trauma,” according to autopsy results released Tuesday. But authorities said the exam failed to answer all the questions detectives have about Lauterbach’s death, including whether she gave birth before her death and of the identity of the father.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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