A man who allegedly had an affair with the missing and possibly pregnant wife of a Marine based in Southern California has been arrested in Alaska and charged with murder after her body was found in a desert mine shaft.
Christopher Brandon Lee, 24, was arrested at about 10 p.m. Sunday night, a clerk for the Anchorage Correctional complex said. He is being held until federal agents arrive to transport him.
He was charged with homicide after Erin Corwin's body was located August 17 at the bottom of a 140-foot mine shaft in the desert near Joshua Tree.
Her manner of death was determined to be homicide, San Bernardino County Sheriff-Coroner John McMahon said. A cause of death was not released.
Officials said they have not yet determined if Corwin was pregnant, as her husband reported.
Corwin, 19, had a possible secret relationship with 24-year-old then-Marine Cpl. Christopher Lee, both Lee's neighbor and Corwin's friend told investigators, according to a court documents.
Lee lived next door to Corwin and her husband, with his wife and family. In a search warrant, investigators said Lee and Corwin were having an affair that began in February, and that she was possibly three month's pregnant with his baby. Investigators believe that may have been a motive for her murder.
"We are still trying to confirm that Erin Corwin was in fact pregnant," Sgt. Trevis Newport said Monday.
Corwin was believed to be three months pregnant when she was last seen leaving her Twentynine Palms home on June 28. She told her husband she was headed to Joshua Tree National Park to look for hiking trails, authorities said.
Her husband, Marine Cpl. Jonathan Corwin, reported her missing the next day. Erin Corwin’s car was found in Twentynine Palms two days after she disappeared.
Thousands of volunteers scoured more than 300 acres of desert in and around Joshua Tree for weeks before her body was found at the bottom of the 14-story mine shaft.
Her family issued a statement Monday afternoon.
"Thank you all for your prayers and support over the last 7 weeks. We appreciate all of the words of encouragement and compassion we have been shown during the search for Erin. We are also forever grateful for the the volunteers and branches of law enforcement who made it possible to finally bring Erin home," the statement reads.
"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. We now ask that our privacy be respected as we enter into this new stage of grief and healing. Thank you all!"