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.
The burned remains of Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach, 20, and her fetus were found last weekend in Jacksonville, N.C., one day after a fellow Marine she had accused of raping her, Cpl. Cesar Laurean, disappeared. Authorities were awaiting autopsy results to determine whether her fetus had been born.
A murder warrant has been issued for Laurean, who is believed to have fled to Mexico.
"My daughter was a beautiful girl with a beautiful figure and perceived credibility issues. That set her up to be the perfect victim," Mary Lauterbach said of her daughter in an interview published Sunday in the Dayton Daily News.
Mary Lauterbach said that when an Onslow County, N.C., sheriff's investigator asked for an e-mail telling everything she could about her daughter, "I said she had problems with occasional compulsive lying."
She said she last talked with her daughter by phone on Dec. 14. Later that night, a friend of her daughter called and said Maria had left a note that said, according to the Marine Corps, "I could not take this Marine Corps life anymore. So I'm going away. Sorry for the inconvenience, Maria."
Mary Lauterbach believes her daughter should have been more forceful in pursuing the rape accusation against Laurean. She said her daughter told her in May that she had been attacked on April 10.
Mary Lauterbach's first reaction was skepticism.
"You realize you've lost all your evidence now?" she recalled telling her daughter. "Maria, you have to know you cannot make any false statements because that is one of the worst things you could possibly do. You could ruin somebody's career, and you won't be doing yourself any favors either."
The newspaper said a Marine report shows that Maria Lauterbach told fellow Marines in 2006 that her father had accidentally killed her 6-year-old brother by throwing a lamp at him, and she was put in counseling after her mother assured authorities that the brother was alive.
Her mother said that fed Maria Lauterbach's skepticism that the Marine Corps would fully pursue her rape charges against Laurean, but she said she told her daughter she had to report any rape to protect other female Marines.
Naval investigators said they have no physical evidence or eyewitness testimony to corroborate Maria Lauterbach's claims of rape. They concluded that her first sexual encounter with Laurean was not criminal in nature, and that a second did not involve any force or coercion. Laurean denied they had any sexual contact at all.