Archive for Sunday, February 3, 2008

Hundreds gather for funeral of slain pregnant Marine

February 3, 2008

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— Family and friends wept and prayed Saturday at a funeral Mass for a pregnant Marine found slain in North Carolina.

The service for Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach drew hundreds of mourners to St. Christopher Catholic Church near Dayton.

Four uniformed marines wheeled Lauterbach's coffin down the aisle to the strains of "Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory." A small silver casket bearing Lauterbach's unborn child, who she had named Gabriel, was placed next to it.

Federal authorities have said the man suspected of killing her, Marine Cpl. Cesar Laurean, has likely fled to Mexico. Lauterbach failed to show up for work in mid-December, and last month her burned remains were found with those of her fetus in a fire pit in the backyard of Laurean's house in Jacksonville, N.C.

The Lauterbach family sat together in the front row. Lauterbach's mother, Mary, dabbed her eyes with tissues and her father, Vic, comforted Maria's young brother.

The mourners included uniformed Marines and military veterans.

During his sermon, the Rev. Francis Keferl said Lauterbach had a strong spirit: "We remember her athleticism and her competitive spirit. We remember that she wanted to serve her country as a Marine."

Outside the church, about 200 members of the Patriot Guard, veterans who ride their motorcycles to military funerals, lined the drive and stood at attention as the hearse arrived. A makeshift sign made of plastic foam cups read: "We Miss You, Maria."

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