Fugitive Marine's Truck Found In N.C. - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Fugitive Marine's Truck Found In N.C.

(CBS/AP) Police investigating the murder of Camp Lejeune Marine Maria Lauterbach say they have a break in the case. Tuesday afternoon investigators located the truck belonging to the man suspected of killing her. Authorities found Marine Cpl. Cesar Laurean's truck at a hotel near Morrisville, North Carolina, reports CBS affiliate WRAL.

Laurean is the object of a nationwide manhunt. He is wanted for murder and has been eluding police since mid-December. Maria Lauterbach was reported missing about a week before Christmas Day, and her body was recovered from a shallow grave in Onslow County, N.C.

Earlier, a medical examiner cast doubt on Laurean's claims that Lauterback had committed suicide.

Dr. Charles Garrett, the Onslow County medical examiner, said Lauterbach, who was eight months pregnant when she vanished, died from "traumatic head injury due to blunt force trauma."

Authorities recovered her burned remains, along with those of her child, over the weekend from a fire pit in the backyard of Laurean, a fellow personnel clerk at Camp Lejeune whom she had accused of rape.

The autopsy did not answer all the questions about the circumstances of Lauterbach's death, said county prosecutor Dewey Hudson. Detectives are still not sure if she gave birth before her slaying, he said.

Laurean, 21, is believed to have fled Jacksonville early Friday morning, after leaving a note in which he admitted burying Lauterbach's body. But Tuesday, officials said they think he has gone into hiding and is no longer on the run.

"We believe it's certainly possible, based on him being out there for this long, and not having any sightings, that he is getting help," said Onslow County Sheriff's Capt. Rick Sutherland. "We think we have a handle on all his contacts, but there could be someone else out there helping."

In his note, Laurean alleged that Lauterbach committed suicide by cutting her own throat. Onslow County Sheriff Ed Brown has consistently rejected that idea, citing blood spatters on the ceiling and a massive amount of blood on the wall found inside Laurean's home as signs of a violent confrontation.

Officials have offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to Laurean's arrest and have posted or plan to post billboards with his picture in cities nationwide, including Columbus, Ohio, Tampa, Fla., and Las Vegas.

Authorities received reports from several witnesses Sunday who said they saw Laurean at a bus station in Shreveport, La., but Brown has said detectives have been unable to confirm their validity.
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