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Anchorage man arrested in death of missing California woman

By Lauren Maxwell 5:28 PM August 18, 2014

A case that made national headlines may be coming to a close with the arrest of an Anchorage man for the murder of a California Marine’s wife who’s been missing for more than a month.

Authorities believe 24-year-old Christopher Lee of Anchorage may have murdered his mistress, 19-year-old Erin Corwin, then hid her body in a mine shaft deep in the California desert.

Corwin went missing from her home on the Marine base at Twentynine Palms, Calif., on June 30. She was married to her childhood sweetheart but friends say was having an affair with Lee, a married man who lived next door. She told her husband she was going for an outing in Joshua Tree National Park, but authorities said she met up with Lee instead.

“In the very beginning her disappearance was suspicious and our investigators began looking at all the different pieces of evidence to determine who may be responsible,” said San Bernardino Country Sheriff John McMahon.

In court documents, investigators suggested Lee may have wanted to kill Corwin because he believed she was pregnant with his child and he didn’t want his own wife to know.

McMahon said there was evidence to link Lee to the crime, but they didn’t arrest him until after Corwin’s body was finally found.

“On Saturday, August 16th, the search concluded with the discovery of Erin Corwin’s body in a 140-foot mine shaft,” McMahon said at a press conference.

Lee was arrested Sunday night just a block from the Jewel Lake home where he’d been staying with relatives since his return to Anchorage. Police said he came back to the state last month after being honorably discharged from the Marines. Anchorage police picked him up during a traffic stop without incident.

“We had our special assignment unit respond and during a traffic stop they were able to locate Christopher Brandon Lee, apprehend him without incident and he was taken to the Anchorage Jail,” said Anchorage Police Department spokeswoman Jennifer Castro.

Lee is expected to spend a few weeks in Anchorage before his extradition to California to face murder charges.

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