Maria, who was born in Dayton and grew up in Vandalia, was eight months pregnant and her mother was concerned about her well-being. After being rebuffed again and again by base security, Mary filed a missing person report. It would be a month before her story finally aroused the suspicions of a local sheriff’s detective who then pursued her desperate pleas.
On Jan. 11, 2008, her body was discovered in a fire pit in the back yard of Cpl. Cesar Laurean, her direct supervisor at Camp Lejeune, against whom Maria had filed a sexual assault claim six months earlier. By the time her body was discovered, he had fled to Mexico. Arrested two months later, he fought extradition for a year before being brought back to the United States and tried for murder. He was convicted and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, and is now prisoned in North Carolina.