Friday, April 11, 2008

Rapist / Murderer Cesar Laurean Captured in Mexico

A Marine wanted in the brutal slaying of a pregnant colleague who had accused him of rape was arrested Thursday night in Mexico after a three-month international manhunt, authorities said. FBI agents and Mexican authorities arrested Marine Cpl. Cesar Laurean around 7 p.m. EDT. He is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Marine Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach, whose burned remains were found in January in the backyard of his home near Camp Lejeune.

"You know my name. You know who I am," Laurean told The Associated Press while being held at the Michoacan state Attorney General's Office in Morelia, the state capital. Asked if he wanted to say anything, Laurean simply said, "Proof," but wouldn't explain. Laurean appeared slightly disoriented. Asked what he would do next, he replied: "Do I have a choice? ... I don't know."

Magdalena Guzman, a spokeswoman for the Michoacan, Mexico, state prosecutors office, said police carrying out an anti-kidnapping operation stopped Laurean as he wandered on a street in the rural township of Tacambaro, Michoacan, because they thought he looked suspicious. When they realized he didn't speak Spanish well, they became even more suspicious. After running his name through a computer, they realized Laurean was wanted in the United States to face charges in Lauterbach's death.

Guzman said Laurean told the arresting officers he had only 10 pesos (about US$1) in his pocket, and that he had been surviving by eating avocados and other fruit he found in the fields of the farming community where he was found. The FBI said Laurean, 21, is awaiting extradition to the U.S., although local prosecutors in North Carolina cautioned the process could take a year or more. "Laurean's swift arrest in Mexico was due to the diligence and dedication of the Mexican government and our law enforcement partners," Nathan Gray, the special agent in charge of the FBI's Charlotte office, said in a statement. "This was truly an international effort, and we will do all we can to ensure Laurean is brought back to Onslow County (N.C.) as quickly as possible to answer the charges against him."

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