Body of missing Marine wife Erin Corwin found; alleged lover arr - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Body of missing Marine wife Erin Corwin found; alleged lover arrested

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Christopher Lee mugshot Christopher Lee mugshot
Christopher Lee, 24 Christopher Lee, 24
Erin Corwin, 19, and husband Cpl. Jonathan Corwin Erin Corwin, 19, and husband Cpl. Jonathan Corwin
TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. (CBS 8) - The alleged lover of a missing Marine wife was arrested after an extensive search ended in the discovery of the woman's body in a mine shaft several miles from Twentynine Palms. 

Authorities located the body of Erin Corwin, 19, about 140 feet below ground Saturday afternoon using video equipment and recovered it early Sunday evening. A forensic odontologist positively identified the body at 9:30 p.m. Sunday.

According to the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, Corporal Christopher Brandon Lee, 24, was arrested in Anchorage, Alaska late Sunday night for Corwin's murder. Final charges are still pending from the district attorney. Lee is being held at the Anchorage jail pending extradition back to San Bernardino County. 

Officials confirmed Corwin's death was a homicide following an autopsy conducted on Monday.

Corwin went missing June 28 after telling her Marine husband she was headed to Joshua Tree National Park. The pregnant woman's Toyota Corolla was found two days later abandoned just blocks from the Twentynine Palms Marine base.

The nearly eight-week investigation and search covered about 300 square miles, including over 100 mine shafts and several bodies of water in and around Joshua Tree National Park. Nearly 5,000 volunteer hours went into the search effort. Detectives said they were searching for a crime scene but had not ruled out the possibility that Corwin went missing voluntarily.

Search warrant records obtained by CBS News 8 indicated there was evidence of murder in Corwin's disappearance. The young wife had told a friend she was having an affair with Cpl. Lee and that Lee may be the father of her unborn child, the records showed. 

"Our investigation led us to believe that there was some type of intimate relationship between Christopher Lee and Erin Corwin," Sgt. Travis Newport of the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department said. 

Warrants were served on Lee's apartment, which he shared with his wife Nichole Lee and their daughter. The Lee's were neighbors of Erin Corwin and her husband Cpl. Jonathan Corwin. 

CBS News 8 has learned has learned Lee may have had an incriminating internet search history on his computer, which is what may have led investigators to zero in on the hundreds of mine shafts around Joshua Tree National Park. 
"We were able to determine a potential location of Erin Corwin's body," Newport said.

Corporal Lee was honorably discharged from the Marines on July 7. The Lee family moved back to their home town of Anchorage shortly after Cpl. Lee's discharge. He currently is serving in the Marine Corps Individual Ready Reserve. There was no immediate indication through Anchorage jail logs that Nichole Lee had been arrested in connection with the case.

Erin's husband and family are relieved they can finally bring her home, saying on their "Locate Erin" Facebook page, in part: 

"Though we were praying for a different outcome, we are relieved to have this part of the investigation behind us and to be able to begin mourning the loss of our sweet girl. Please continue to pray for our family and that justice will be found for Erin."
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