MIKE BAKER Associated Press Writer JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (AP)
A 20-year-old pregnant Marine who disappeared in December died from a head injury, authorities said Tuesday, formally rejecting the claims of the key suspect in her death that she committed suicide. Dr. Charles Garrett, the Onslow County medical examiner, said Lance Cpl . Mar i a Lauterbach died from "traumatic head injury due to blunt force trauma." Authorities recovered her burned remains, along with those of her unborn child, over the weekend from a fire pit in the backyard of Marine Cpl. Cesar Armando Laurean, a fellow personnel clerk at Camp Lejeune whom she had accused of rape. Authorities believe Laurean fled Jacksonville early Friday morning, after leaving a note in which he admitted burying Lauterbach's body. But Tuesday, they said he is believed to have gone into hiding, and is no longer on the run. "It is believed that he has reached a location where his need to move in high speed or long distance no longer exists," Onslow County Sheriff Ed Brown said, refusing to give further details. In his note, Laurean alleged that Lauterbach committed suicide by cutting her own throat. Brown has consistently rejected that idea, listing 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 ci t ies nat ionwide, including Columbus, Ohio, Tampa, Fla., and Las Vegas.