Update April 11, 2008: Marine Cpl. Cesar Armando Laurean has been apprehended in Mexico, thin and with a buck in his pocket. He said he’d been hiding out, eating fruit he found and sleeping in fields. His tattoos and the fact that he didn’t speak Spanish well raised suspicions among police. He is to be extradited to the United States, which could take a while.
Update January 27, 2008: Marine Cpl. Cesar Armando Laurean has been indicted for first degree murder, robbery with a dangerous weapon and theft for forcing Maria Lauterbach to remove money from her bank account on the day she was killed. Laurean was indicted in absentia by a grand jury in South Carolina. U.S. authorities are working with Mexican authorities to find him and extradite him to the U.S. to stand trial. A cousin reported having seen and spoken with Laurean at the cousin’s liquor store outside of Guadalajara. The cousin said he didn’t know about the indictment and didn’t learn that Laurean was wanted by police until he later saw news reports on television. He said he and family members, who didn’t know Laurean well and had seen him only a few times over the past 10 years, were shocked by the reports.
The baby Maria Lauterbach was carrying was a girl. Tests are underway to determine whether Laurean was the baby’s father.
As usual, the reporting of this hideous murder has been unbelievably hateful. I don’t fault Maria’s mother and stepmother for talking about Maria having lied in the past. That is what they both told Marine investigators because apparently it was their experience with their daughter, and they couldn’t retract statements made about Maria long before she was murdered.
It’s the way the media is reporting what the mother and stepmother said that is disgusting and despicable. So what if Maria lied? So what if her mother and stepmother reported that she lied? So what if she lied every single day of her life?
Is it somehow more important to discuss Maria Lauterback’s possible “lies” than it is to discuss Cesar Laurean having bludgeoned her with a crowbar, slit her throat, burned her body and buried her in his backyard?
Whatever lies she may have told whenever, they are irrelevant.
It is irrelevant whether, or that, she lied, and it is certainly irrelevant that she may have been “vulnerable,” as the Associated Press reported. So what if she was? Consider the first paragraph of the AP report of Lauterback’s “vulnerability”:
A slain Marine’s image as a woman who struggled with the truth made her vulnerable and may have triggered events that led to her violent death, her mother says.
In fact, her mom doesn’t say Lauterback’s vulnerability “triggered events” that led to her death. She said her vulnerabilities made Lauterback the “perfect victim,” those vulnerabilities including her daughter’s beauty and “credibility problems.”
It’s sad that this is what her mother believes, and I would certainly disagree wholesale with what she said there, but she sure didn’t say her daughter’s vulnerabilities triggered the events which caused her death!
Why does it matter now, at this point, whether Laurean raped Maria Lauterbach or not? Whether they had consensual sex or not? Why is anybody even talking about this, or about whether or not Laurean “really” harassed Lauterbach on the Marine base where they both worked.
Do people honestly believe a man who is capable of murdering a woman and her baby and burning them in his backyard is not also capable of raping her, relentlessly harassing her, and destroying her life?
Why is what Maria Lauterback may have done to Laurean or in her past or at any time any issue at all? For anyone? Anywhere?
Nothing she ever did at any time in her life has anything at all to do with this atrocity that ended her life.
Cesar Armando Laurean confessed, in writing, to his wife that he had burned Maria’s body and her daughter’s body and buried them in his back yard. He bought paint at Home Depot and painted over the blood that covered the walls and ceiling in his house. Coroner’s reports show that Maria died from blunt trauma to the head, not from having had her throat slit. Even if by some absurd and preposterous stretch of the imagination someone believed Laurean when he said Maria slit her own throat, that isn’t what killed her. Blunt trauma to the head killed her, and we know she didn’t inflict that trauma on herself.
Below are a few very stark images which tell the real story. They tell who the real liar was. They evidence who in fact, has the credibility problems. They give the lie to these claims that Maria was “friends” with this man, or on “good terms” with him, and especially, they make it clear she wasn’t lying with respect to him. They also evidence a level of callousness, hatred and cruelty that is hard for me even to imagine.
This is the fire pit Laurean built. He wrote telling his wife that he burned Maria and her baby’s bodies and buried them here.
Video cameras captured Laurean entering a Home Depot store on two occasions and buying the paint which was used to cover blood stains (above) as well as the cinder blocks for the fire pit.
This video camera shows Laurean using Maria Lauterback’s ATM card after her death. The grand jury also evidently had enough evidence to indict him on armed robbery for having forced Maria, at gunpoint, at some point to withdraw money from an ATM machine.
In view of the facts, the photos, the e-mails, does anybody agree we ought to focus on what Laurean is up to, not what Lauterback might have been up to before Laurean murdered her?
Letty, who has been posting updates to this thread in Spanish, has posted several recently. I’m hoping someone can translate her comments because she has been providing information from news media in Mexico that is different from what is available to us here in the U.S.
Video tribute to Maria Lauterbach which I found at Bonnie’s place.
Last November, Maria Lauterbach, 20, above, of Dayton Ohio, who had enlisted in the Marines in June of 2006, became part of the combat logistics regiment based at Camp Lejeune, N.C. She worked for Marine Cpl. Cesar Armando Laurean, 21, who was her senior officer.
In April of last year, Lauterbach reported to her commanding officers that Laurean had raped her. Officers issued a protective order and assigned Lauterbach and Laurean to work in different buildings. The protective order was renewed twice, in April and September. It was renewed again in January, but by then Maria was dead.
Lauterbach was pregnant as a result of the rape. She would have felt the first flutters of life in her womb in July or August. By the time the protective order against Laurean was issued for the second time, the top of her uterus, the “fundus,” would have risen above her waist and her pregnancy would have begun to show.
During all of the months of the military investigation, Maria had to continue to work not far from her rapist who, she said, harassed her in an ongoing and intensifying way despite the protective order, the harassment reaching such unbearable levels by December that she felt forced to move off base and rent a room. Investigators nevertheless say they didn’t consider Laurean a “threat” to Maria Lauterbach. For some reason they thought Laurean and his rape victim were on “friendly terms.” Of course, these were the same investigators who felt concerned about “inconsistencies” in Maria’s account of the rape, and who, according to papers filed in the case said Maria was facing a “possible discharge” from the Marines. No reason for this “possible discharge” was given. It was probably similar to the actual, not possible, discharge my niece was given after she was raped by two men while she was serving in the Navy in the Gulf Coast and just before she was to give birth. The discharge would have stripped her of all of her military benefits. Those were restored to her only after she sued and later settled with the Navy, and only after the two men who raped her were charged, found guilty and sentenced to time in the brig.
During the investigation, someone, either Maria’s mom or her stepmom — news reports differ — said Maria was a “compulsive liar,” and had “bipolar disorder” and these allegations showed up in papers filed during the investigation. They must have been a welcome relief to invesigators eager to believe what Laurean, her superior officer, who had raped her, was telling them — that it was all consensual, that Maria was a liar, that she made the whole thing up, that she got herself pregnant and it wasn’t him, or if it was, she wanted it. The reference to her bipolar disorder was an effort to discredit her in the way the mentally ill are often discredited, as though what they say about themselves and their lives should be suspect. If investigators included these facts and Maria ended up injured or dead, the military could point to some basis for not having protected her. Her uncle said her family was just trying to give as much honest and comprehensive information as they could so as to cooperate with investigators, and that he wouldn’t say Maria was a compulsive liar, only that when she was stressed, she might stretch the truth. Well, yeah. When a woman knows her blood is in the water, for example, and she’ll be punished for telling the truth, she may well “stretch” it in order to survive. The same thing was said of my niece, that she was a “liar,” and some other things as the Navy refused and refused and refused to treat her fairly until they had no other choice but to do so. But my niece sure didn’t lie about the baby she was carrying who is now six years old and being raised by her alone. Neither did Maria Lauterbach lie about the baby she was carrying, whose body lay next to hers in that man’s fire pit night after cold December night until finally another woman — Maria’s rapist’s heartbroken wife –told police where to find them.
By the time the order came down that the case be submitted to the military’s version of a grand jury in October, Maria’s pregnancy would have been obvious to everyone. By the time she was interviewed by prosecutors about the rape in early December, she was eight months pregnant. When investigators contacted Laurean asking to meet with him, he disappeared. He knew it was just a matter of time before the truth would out, the DNA tests would be ordered. He had a wife back home and a small child, and his wife was going to have to be told.
Lauterbach’s mom, Mary Lauterbach of Dayton, Ohio, last spoke with Maria on December 14 and reported her missing on December 19. Her cell phone was found near the gate to Camp LeJeune on December 20th, and a male attempted to use her ATM card on December 24. On December 26 she missed a prenatal appointment.
A search warrant for Maria was issued in early January, and a few days later, Cesar Armando Laurean sent a letter to his wife in Florida saying he had buried Maria’s body in his yard. He said he didn’t kill her, she had killed herself, by slitting her own throat. Investigators say that wasn’t possible– there was voluminous blood everwhere in the house, spattered all over the walls, spattered on the ceiling. After Laurean’s wife turned her husband’s letter over to police, they went to his home and found Maria’s body buried in the backyard. The body of her unborn infant was found near hers. They had been burned in a fire pit like so much trash.
Police are searching for Laurean’s black Dodge pickup with North Carolina plate TRR-1522. He has been sited several states away, in Louisiana.
The families grieve, and mourn, both Maria’s and Laurean’s. This would be “just” another rape and murder of “just” another woman of the type that occurs every day in the U.S., except that it was yet another instance of a woman soldier raped by a soldier, in this case her superior, who then murdered her. To serve in the U.S. military, for a woman, is a dangerous proposition, not only because of enemy troops and the dangers of war, but because of the chance she will be raped and possibly murdered by fellow troops. How many women are, or have been, raped in the military and never tell? How many women have been murdered by fellow troops and it was covered up, so that we will never know about it?
Let justice flow down like water, someday, somehow.
Thanks to Holly’s Fight for Justice for the heads up.