LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The body of a U.S. Marine’s pregnant wife who disappeared in June has been found in a mine shaft, with a former neighbor of the couple arrested for her murder, law enforcement officials said on Monday.
Erin Corwin, 19, was reported missing on June 28 by her husband, Marine Corporal Jonathan Corwin, after she failed to return from what she told him was a day trip to Joshua Tree National Park, near their home on the military base in nearby Twentynine Palms.
On Sunday evening, her remains were recovered from the bottom of a mine shaft less than 2 miles from Twentynine Palms and positively identified by dental records, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said.
About an hour later, Christopher Brandon Lee, 24, was taken into custody without incident during a traffic stop in Anchorage, Alaska, according to the sheriff’s department and Anchorage Police Department.
He was expected to face extradition proceedings to return him to California in the coming weeks, a San Bernardino County Sheriff’s spokeswoman said.
Two days after her husband reported her missing, Corwin’s car was found abandoned on a street in Twentynine Palms, a desert community 130 miles east of Los Angeles, next to footprints showing that she got into another vehicle.
Investigators have said little about the evidence in their search for Corwin, who was three months’ pregnant at the time she vanished.
But in July, the Desert Sun newspaper published a search warrant affidavit that showed that detectives had questioned Lee and his wife, Nicole, each more than once during the investigation.
The affidavit published by the Sun said detectives believed Christopher Lee and Erin Corwin were having an extramarital affair at the time of her disappearance and that Lee could be the father of her unborn baby.
A friend of the Lees told detectives that Nicole Lee had confided to her that police missed something when they searched her home and would “never find the body,” but she was worried that her husband did not have an alibi and could not keep his story straight, according to the affidavit.
The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department has declined to discuss the documents published by the Sun.
According to the affidavit, Christopher Lee denied involvement in Erin Corwin’s disappearance. He also told investigators they had kissed but never had sexual intercourse.
Reporting by Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles and Steve Quinn in Juneau, Alaska; Writing by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Eric Walsh and Peter Cooney