JACKSONVILLE, N.C. — The day before Cpl. Cesar A. Laurean fled amid the search for a pregnant Marine who had accused him of rape, he told his wife that the woman was dead, according to a sheriff's affidavit.
Christina S. Laurean waited a day before telling police. At the time, authorities were searching for Lance. Cpl. Maria Lauterbach, who had accused Cpl. Laurean of twice raping her. She had been missing 27 days.
Lauterbach's burned corpse and that of a fetus were found in a fire pit in the backyard of the Laureans' home here Jan. 11 -- the same day Christina Laurean told her story to detectives. Cpl. Laurean left home at 4 a.m. that day, according to the affidavit, which was unsealed Thursday. (An autopsy did not determine whether Lauterbach gave birth before her death.)
The corporal is a fugitive; the FBI believes he is now in Mexico.
Christina Laurean, a Marine reservist, said her husband told her of Lauterbach's death as the couple drove to a lawyer's office Jan. 10.
He told her that Lauterbach had come to their home Dec. 15, the day after she was reported missing. He said she demanded money and said she was leaving the area.
In May, Lauterbach, 20, had accused Laurean, 21, of rape -- an accusation he denied. Lauterbach disappeared while military authorities were investigating the case, leaving a note that read, "I could not take this Marine Corps life anymore. So I am going away."
That led authorities to believe that Lauterbach had left voluntarily. Police now suspect she has been dead since about Dec. 15.
The affidavit said that Laurean told his wife that he and Lauterbach had gone to a bus station that day, where she bought a ticket to El Paso. Later that evening, Lauterbach returned to Laurean's home "disoriented, agitated and acting differently," Christina Laurean quoted her husband as saying.
Lauterbach reportedly told Laurean that "her plan had failed," the affidavit said. Then, the corporal told his wife, the two argued and Lauterbach "produced a knife and killed herself by slitting her throat."
Laurean said he had panicked and buried her body.
An autopsy found that Lauterbach died of "traumatic head injury due to blunt force trauma." Police said blood was found inside the Laurean home -- some of it washed over or covered with fresh paint.
Authorities have described Christina Laurean as a cooperating witness. She has not been charged. The affidavit did not say why she had delayed going to the authorities.
Cesar Laurean was questioned Jan. 8, three days before he fled, by the Onslow County Sheriff's Department. He was considered a witness, not a suspect, according to a Marine Corps statement.
At that time, authorities still believed Lauterbach, described by her stepmother as "bipolar" and a "compulsive liar," had gone away on her own. Military officials said Lauterbach had told them that she did not feel threatened by Laurean.
On the morning of Jan. 10, as the Laureans were on their way to see a lawyer, the corporal asked his wife "if she was with him on this," the affidavit said. According to the document, Christina Laurean said she replied: "I do not know. Is there anything that you have not told me?"