When high school student Lee Cutler disappeared in 2007, it sent shock waves across the community while his friends and family members were hugely concerned about his well-being and whereabouts. Investigation Discovery’s ‘Disappeared: Lee Cutler’ delves deep into the disappearance of the teenager and the measures that the detectives took to get to the bottom of it and find him as soon as possible. The episode also includes interviews with Lee’s family and friends, allowing us to have a better understanding of him.
Lee Cutler Vanished Into the Wild in 2007
Lee Cutler was brought into the world by Beth Nathan and Danny Cutler on October 2, 1989. Growing up in Buffalo Grove, Illinois, he shared the house with his mother, his older brother, and his stepfather Larry, whom his mother married after divorcing his biological father. He was also accompanied by his stepsister, Larry’s daughter. Usually a socially active individual, his loved ones state that he always cares about the happiness of others before his own and is considered a close confidant by many in his life. However, he kept his feelings bottled up inside, not wanting to burden others. Instead, he used writing as his outlet.
In the ninth grade, regularly wearing his yarmulke, Lee became the founder of the local chapter of the Jewish Youth Group, B’Nai B’rith or BBYO, as he was observant of the Jewish faith. In 2006, he broke up with his girlfriend, after which he reportedly had suicidal tendencies. After threatening to take his own life, he was hospitalized and attended therapy. A senior at Stevenson High School in 2007, Lee was contemplating joining the Israeli Defense Forces in order to bring peace to the country. On the evening of October 19, 2007, he informed his mother, Beth, that he was leaving for a friend’s birthday party and would be staying over for the night while hugging her a little longer than usual.
After spending the night partying and seemingly having fun with his friends, Lee dropped a friend off from the party the next morning around 9:50 am and supposedly told him he was heading to Rock America, a clothing store where he worked during noon time. However, the 18-year-old teenager never arrived for his shift and was not seen by anyone after that. When Lee did not respond to her texts or pick up her calls, Beth got worried and kept checking with the store to see if he had arrived or not, only to find out that he never did. Still clinging on to some hope that he might show up at the outing with the BBYO later that same evening, she called the authorities and reported him missing around 11 pm.
The police launched a search for Lee Cutler and did not find anything out of place or suspicious while searching his bedroom. However, they learned that about $500 was missing from his possessions, which hinted that he might have preplanned leaving without informing anyone beforehand. Things developed in the investigation when the detectives discovered his abandoned car in Baraboo, Wisconsin, about 200 miles away from his home, in the early hours of October 22, 2007. The vehicle was locked, and they did not find any signs of struggle. While searching the car for clues, they found regular items alongside an admission ticket for Kettle Moraine State Park and a copy of one of his favorite books, ‘Into the Wild,’ which is about a young man who embarks on an adventurous journey across the Alaskan wilderness.
After that, the authorities launched an extensive search of the nearby wooded area along the banks of the Baraboo River. Although there was no sign of Lee, they managed to find several items that belonged to him at the campsite, including an empty bottle of Advil PM with one pill on the floor, blankets, backpack, bottled water, and Coricidin. The authorities even called a dive team to search in the river, where they discovered his yarmulke. Lee’s yarmulke accompanied a note, which read, “My head is too big for my body. Finally, I will get to sleep. I’m sorry for being a coward. I love you, mom. Please, be happy.”
Looking for more of Lee’s items, the dive team kept searching the river for the next five days and found a pair of his khaki pants and his black belt on a log. The pants still contained his wallet, car keys, ID, and some cash. When nothing more was discovered from the river in the next few days, the police called off the search and believed they would have found his body had he gone into the water. Moreover, his car was low on gas, which the authorities believed to be deliberate because there were many gas stations along the route. Thus, they believed that Lee Cutler intended to stop where the vehicle was found.
Lee Cutler is Still Missing, But His Family Remains Optimistic
Unfortunately, even after over 16 years of search and investigation, Lee Cutler remains missing. Yes, there have been many witnesses from Nevada, California, Texas, and Minnesota claiming to have seen Lee Cutler, but none of those tips have been corroborated. Since his disappearance, his stepfather has passed away after suffering a heart attack. Still determined and hopeful, Lee’s friends also created a Facebook group by the name ‘lets find lee!!’ to amplify the search for him.
As of 2017, Beth Nathan still had hopes of reuniting with his lost son. During a conversation with the Daily Herald, she said, “I never allow myself to say he’s dead. I just have this vision of him walking into this room and he’s there. I always have this hope he’s going to show up.” Currently, Lee is classified as endangered missing, while his family believes that they will find him sooner or later.