Fugitive Marine Caught in Mexico, Faces Murder Charge in North Carolina

A North Carolina-based Marine wanted in the brutal murder of a pregnant colleague has been captured in Mexico.

The FBI office in Charlotte said Thursday night that special agents and Mexican authorities arrested Marine Cpl. Cesar Laurean, and he is expected to be extradited to the United States on a murder charge in the slaying of Marine Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach.

"The FBI and its law enforcement partners brought to bear all of our domestic and international resources to find a man wanted for murder," Nathan Gray, the FBI's special agent in charge, said in written statement. "Laurean's swift arrest in Mexico was due to the diligence and dedication of the Mexican government and our law enforcement partners.

"This was truly an international effort, and we will do all we can to ensure Laurean is brought back to Onslow County as quickly as possible to answer the charges against him."

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The Onslow County Sheriffs Office filed charges against Laurean for the murder of Lauterbach, and a state arrest warrant was issued on January 12, 2008.

That same day, Laurean was charged federally with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution in the Eastern District of North Carolina, and a federal warrant was issued for his arrest.

Onslow County District Attorney Dewey Hudson immediately cautioned Thursday night that "it could be a year or two" for authorities to bring Laurean back to North Carolina if he decides to fight the extradition process.

"The extradition process is one where you have a right to appeal," Hudson told The Associated Press. "I have no idea whether he would waive extradition."

Hudson told FOX News that several weeks ago a computer was taken from the house of Laurean's wife's sister.

His wife was using the computer to communicate with Laurean, Hudson said, adding there was evidence that he planned go to Las Vegas and visit his family.

"She [Laurean's wife] is still deeply in love with her husband," Husdon told FOX News.

It was not clear if his wife's sister knew she was using the computer to communicate with Laurean.

The Marines first began searching for Lauterbach on Dec. 17, after Lauterbach failed to show up for work. Local authorities took up the case Dec. 19, after her mother reported her missing. Three weeks later, officials found Lauterbach's burned remains in a fire pit in Laurean's back yard.

Lauterbach had earlier accused Laurean of rape. Laurean left a note for his wife, Christina, that said Lauterbach slit her own throat with a knife, and he then buried her in the woods near their home.

An autopsy found that Lauterbach died of blunt force trauma to the head.

A new conference on the arrest is scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.