A missing man turns out to have six different wives.
On September 27, 1980, Jack and Caroline Lutter were married in Lake Tahoe. Jack was a flight engineer for United Airlines, and Caroline was working as a marine biologist. According to Caroline, theirs was a happy marriage until August, 1986, when Jack disappeared:
For four weeks, Jack didn’t call and Caroline had no idea where he had gone. The situation worsened when their son, Jonathan, was diagnosed with a hernia and needed immediate surgery. Caroline called the airline to try to find Jack. When she spoke to his supervisor, she got news she never expected–other women had also been calling about her missing husband:
Caroline discovered that some of those women were not just girlfriends, but Jack’s wives. For years, Jack Lutter had successfully created a life of bigamy and an intricate financial network that supported six condominiums, six houses, a fifty-foot yacht, and at least fifteen children. Jack’s wives all had one thing in common–they were all from male-dominated cultures where women seldom question their husband’s actions. He initially met each of his wives through chance encounters. One of them, Fatima, fell under his spell on an airport bus in Seattle:
A few months later, Fatima and Jack Lutter were married in Reno. She unknowingly became his fifth wife. They moved to San Francisco, where they had two children.
But not all of Jack Lutter’s women were married to him. Theresa, whom he met in 1980, was his common-law wife. They met in Denver, had a child, and then moved to El Paso. Like his other wives, Theresa believed she was the only person in Jack’s life:
Once Jack disappeared, his wives began calling each other. Theresa and Caroline slowly pieced together the true story of Jack Lutter’s numerous marriages. He had told his fifth wife, Fatima, about a condominium in San Francisco, where his grandfather supposedly lived. When she searched it, there was no grandfather. But Fatima did find a secret cache of Lutter’s personal belongings–including explicit sexual photos of his many wives:
Knowing that Jack always left his car at the airport, Caroline took a spare set of keys and searched it. In the trunk, she found checks and mortgage receipts for various properties he owned all over the country:
Caroline packed up Jack’s belongings, filed a missing persons report, and asked the police to investigate her suspicions of bigamy. Sergeant Keith May of the King County Police Department was the lead investigator on the case:
Jack Lutter’s wives all lived in cities on his airline routes. The system worked perfectly until the airline decided to promote Jack and change his routes. His complex web of lies began to unravel. Jack vanished, and for six weeks, none of his wives heard from him. Then, in the middle of the night, Jack called Caroline. He said he was calling from a payphone inside a Cuban prison, where he had been held captive after being shipwrecked off the Cuban coast. Now, he wanted to come home. Caroline knew he was lying, but to lure him back she pretended to believe him.
Two days later, Jack called from the airport. Caroline had planned to alert the police. But that night she decided first to confront her husband, and then call the authorities. She insisted that they talk in a public place, so they drove to a restaurant near the airport. But by the end of their conversation, Caroline did not have the heart to turn Jack in:
Jack walked down the ramp and out of Caroline’s life forever. Then he simply went to the haven of another wife–Theresa. Although she also knew of her husband’s infidelities, Theresa neglected to turn him in as well. Jack Lutter lived with Theresa in El Paso for six months. Then in March of 1987, he was fired by the airline and disappeared yet again. According to Sergeant May, this time his vanishing act was permanent:
Jack Lutter was finally captured after he was spotted at Los Angeles International Airport. He was taken to Seattle and convicted of bigamy. He served his sentence of 90 days and was released on probation. But he violated his probation by disappearing once again. A warrant for the arrest of Jack Lutter has been issued by a Seattle court.