Autopsy: Baby clothes found in pit with Lauterbach's body
March 14, 2008 - 3:29PM

Baby clothing was found with the charred remains of Marine Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach and her unborn child, according to the autopsy report released Friday. The baby clothing was found in a melted plastic bag and labeled "size 0-3 months."

Lauterbach was reported missing in mid-December, and authorities believe she was killed at that time. Her extensively burned and decomposed body and that of her unborn child were found buried in a fire pit in the Half Moon community back yard of Cesar Laurean, the Camp Lejeune Marine corporal accused of killing her.

Laurean has been on the run since Jan. 11, and federal authorities believe he is hiding in Mexico. The reward for his capture has gradually risen to $46,000 after federal, state and public contributions are totaled.

According to the autopsy report, completed and released by the N.C. Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Lauterbach's unborn baby was extensively charred but still bore a small amount of umbilical cord.

"The fetus may have been expelled from the body as a result of charring of (Lauterbach's) abdomen," the report states.

Lauterbach's body was wrapped in a partially burned comforter, according to the autopsy, which was conducted Jan. 14. Clothing found on Lauterbach's body consisted of a sports bra and a green knit shirt. The report does not list any other clothing as being with her body when it was examined.

The autopsy report also details a "superficial incised wound to the left side of the neck." The wound is four-inches long with a two-inch gape.

The reports states the wound "appears to be real (not an artefact of charring) but may have occurred after death" as first reported in The Daily News on Jan 25. The wound, the report adds, "does not appear to damage critical structures."

In a note left to his wife before he fled, Laurean claimed that Lauterbach slit her own throat and that he just buried her body. Investigators have told The Daily News they believe the cut to her neck was an attempt by Laurean to disguise her actual manner of death, which was declared to be more than one blow to the head.

"Death is most likely due to blunt force injury to the head," the report states.

Sources close to the investigation have told The Daily News they believe Lauterbach was killed with a crowbar in Laurean's garage.

Lauterbach's body was so badly damaged from fire and decomposition that her arms and legs were "charred away," and several internal organs were not available for inspection by the state medical examiner who conducted the autopsy.

"The heart is barely recognizable ... the left lung is absent ... the stomach is not recovered," the report states.

The full autopsy report is available by clicking on the link under "Related Multimedia" in the upper right corner of this story.

Contact police reporter Lindell Kay at or 910-554-8534.