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Former Marine suspected in Erin Corwin murder returned to California

Aug. 25, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
Christopher Brandon Lee
Christopher Brandon Lee (AP)
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Erin Corwin, left, with her husband, Jonathan Wayne Corwin, a corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps. (San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department / AP)

Christopher Lee, who is the suspect in the death of Marine wife Erin Corwin, has returned to California and is scheduled to appear in San Bernardino County Superior Court Tuesday, jail records show.

He was taken into custody at 12:03 a.m. Monday and his court appearance is set for 1:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Joshua Tree courthouse, 6527 White Feather Road.

Lee was arrested in Alaska on Aug. 17 shortly after a body found in a 140-feet deep mine shaft near Joshua Tree was positively identified as Corwin.

He now faces a charge of first-degree murder with special circumstance allegation of “lying in wait” and is eligible for the death penalty.

Lee admitted to searching the Internet for advice on how to dispose of a body, and .22-caliber cartridge casings and pieces of rebar at the mine shaft where she was found matched those found in his Jeep, according to an arrest warrant filed in a California Superior Court.

A witness told investigators that Lee also asked about the best way to dispose of a body and Lee told investigators he was collecting tires the morning Corwin disappeared. A tire also was found at the mine shaft.

Corwin, 19, was a Marine wife who vanished on June 28 after telling her husband, Cpl. Jonathan Corwin, that she was headed to Joshua Tree National Park.

During the seven-week search that followed, law enforcement officials and volunteers inspected more than 300 square miles of desert and several bodies of water.

Lee, 24, is a former Marine, originally from Anchorage, who lived next to the Corwins at the desert base. Detectives believe that Lee and Corwin were having an affair, and that Lee may have been afraid his wife, Nichole, would discover his infidelity.

Lee left the Marine Corps about the same time that Corwin went missing, and he moved off of the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms in early July. Lee and his family have since moved to Alaska, where he was arrested.

The cause of death has not been released.

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