JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (AP) — The sheriff investigating the disappearance of a 20-year-old pregnant Marine said he expected a break in the case Friday once detectives further interview a man who lived with her.
"He's going to answer some questions that I think will shed a lot of light on this case," Onslow County Sheriff Ed Brown said early Friday, promising a "major announcement" around midday.
The roommate, Marine Sgt. Daniel Durham, isn't a suspect in the case. But authorities believe Durham to be the last person to speak with the missing woman, who is due to give birth in mid-February, and may have been monitoring the case while on a training mission in California.
Brown has stressed the case remains a missing-person investigation.
The Marine, who vanished last month before she was to testify in a military probe, had said she was sexually assaulted by a senior officer but that the investigation had gone sour, according to court documents.
The woman, a lance corporal, made the allegation to her stepmother, who also told investigators that her stepdaughter was bipolar and had a history of compulsive lying, according to the documents filed this week.
The documents state Naval investigators had struggled to investigate the woman's allegations because of inconsistencies in her account. Still, the court papers said the anticipated birth of the baby "might provide evidentiary credence to charges she lodged with military authorities that she was sexually assaulted by a senior military person."
Authorities said Thursday they planned to question the superior officer at Camp Lejeune. Her stepmother said the officer threatened the missing woman's career, and search warrants filed this week state the woman was facing a possible discharge from the Marine Corps. No reason was provided.
The Associated Press had identified the missing Marine before the allegations of sexual assault became public. The AP generally does not identify people who allege they are victims of sexual assault.
The woman, originally from Dayton, Ohio, was reported missing Dec. 19 by her stepmother, who last spoke with her five days earlier, authorities said. The Marine's cell phone was found Dec. 20 near the main gate at Camp Lejeune, and she missed a Dec. 26 prenatal care appointment.
Authorities found her vehicle at a bus station near the base on the Atlantic coast, and an employee there has told investigators it has been there since about the time of her disappearance. Brown said Friday she had purchased a bus ticket to El Paso, Texas, the day after she spoke with her stepmother, but the ticket has not been used.
Durham told authorities during an initial interview that he didn't report his roommate as missing because some of her personal items were gone from the residence.
According to court documents, state authorities searched Durham's laptop because they believe the woman may have used it to search for directions on the Internet, as well as her cell phone records and the residence she shared with Durham.
The warrants said a white male tried to use the missing woman's ATM card on Christmas Eve and attempted to cover the ATM's security camera with a rag. Brown declined to say where the card was used.
Brown has declined to comment on the rape allegations, as have officials at Camp Lejeune. Wayne Mixon, a Naval Criminal Investigative Service special agent at Camp Lejeune, declined to discuss specifics of the case, other than to say the agency is assisting the sheriff's department with investigative leads in the Marine Corps.
Camp Lejeune officials said the missing woman, who is assigned to the 2nd Marine Logistics Group of the II Marine Expeditionary Force, joined the Marine Corps in June 2006, trained as a personnel clerk and had not deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan.