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Murder of Erin Corwin by her Marine Corps lover, Christopher Brandon Lee examined on 48 Hours on ID: NCIS

Mugshot of Christopher Brandon Lee
Christopher Brandon Lee was imprisoned for life for killing his pregnant lover, Erin Corwin. Pic credit: San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office

48 Hours on ID: NCIS is investigating the murder of Marine Corps wife, Erin Corwin, who was brutally strangled to death and dumped down a mine shaft by her lover, Christopher Brandon Lee.

Lee was a US Marine based at the Twentynine Palms Marine Corps base in California when he began an affair with 19-year-old Erin Corwin, whose husband was stationed at the same military base.

Tragically, in June 2014, the pregnant Erin Corwin vanished without a trace. The authorities began an extensive search for the young woman, which ended two months later when her body was discovered at the bottom of an abandoned 140-foot mine shaft in a remote area of the desert.

A short time later, the investigation zeroed in on Christopher Lee as the probable killer.

After the murder, Lee had fled with his family to Alaska, but thankfully, the police were able to track him down, and he was arrested a couple of months later.

The police believe that Lee lured Erin out into the desert with the promise of a romantic evening; it’s thought that she might even have expected her lover to propose.

However, the romantic evening turned into a nightmare when Erin found an erratic and violent Lee. The killer claimed he was distraught and suicidal after being denied deployment; he also said he was angry with Erin and suspected her of molesting his daughter.

Christopher Lee confessed to murdering Erin Corwin

Lee said he suddenly decided to kill her outside the abandoned mine. He admitted to grabbing her from behind and strangling her for at least five minutes with a garrote made up of two pieces of rebar and a cord. He then threw her headfirst into the mine shaft.

“I made the decision to kill her,” Lee testified. “I was controlled by the anger. The hate I felt that day, it was something I never want to experience again.” 

However, the prosecution argued that it was premeditated murder. They claimed that Lee wished to hide the affair from his family, so he decided to kill Erin and the unborn child to cover it up.

The prosecution pointed to the fact that the killer had lied to the police and had constantly denied his crime. He only finally came clean when he was on trial and looking at a lengthy prison sentence.

In November 2016, Christopher Brandon Lee was convicted of first-degree murder and was sentenced to spend the rest of his life behind bars.

More from 48 Hours on ID: NCIS

Follow the links to read about more murders profiled on 48 Hours on ID: NCIS.

Ensign Andrew Lee Muns murdered by Michael LeBrun on the USS Cacapon in 1968. Tragically, in his absence, Muns was accused of stealing the ship’s payroll and deserting. It took 30 years for the truth to finally emerge.

In 1989, the smoldering remains of an unidentified body were discovered on the side of the road in North Carolina. It was 1995 before the body was found to belong to Annie Tahan. And her killer had been her sailor boyfriend, Chief Petty Officer Michael Paalan.

48 Hours on ID: NCIS airs at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery.

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