On the night of October 19, 2007, Lee Cutler, an 18-year old from Buffalo Grove, Ill., gathered with family and friends at a favorite hibachi steak house to celebrate a birthday party. Afterwards, his mom headed home while he played an impromptu game of hackey-sack with friends. He later met his mother at home and asked if he could stay over at a friend's house. The night went well, although Lee was reportedly quiet. The next morning (Oct. 20) at around 9:50 a.m., Lee drove another friend home, and was supposed to be headed to his new job at a Rock America store at a mall in Vernon Hills, Ill. He never arrived.
Clues in Lee Cutler's disappearance
On October 21, 2007, Lee Cutler's gray 2007 Toyota Corolla was found at parked near a rest stop in Baraboo, Wis., 177 miles away from his home in Buffalo Grove. The wayside rest is reportedly located near a cornfield off Highway 33 in Fairfield Township and a bridge crossing the river. The area was between Baraboo, Wis. and Portage, Wis. The car was locked. After watching the car all evening in case Lee returned, the officers begin investigating the vehicle and the surrounding area.
Inside the car, police found a printed receipt indicating that Lee had visited Kettle Moraine State Forest at 1:41 p.m. on October 20. The forest has a southern unit near Whitewater, Wis. which is on the route between Cutler's hometown and Baraboo, as well as a northern unit north of Cedarburg, Wis. where Cutler has an ex-girlfriend. Cutler enjoyed hiking and had previously traveled to the area with friends. Also in the car were Cutler's clothing, backpack, blankets, and a copy of "Into the Wild," a true story about a young man leaving his life and living in the Alaskan wilderness. A note was also found that was addressed to his mother: "My head is too big for my body, finally I'll get to sleep. I'm sorry mom for being a coward, I love you mom, please be happy."
The next morning, police found many of Lee's possessions in the nearby woods, including his yarmulke, love letters from his most recent girlfriend, Autumn, and his pants. Keys found in a pants pocket fit the ignition of Cutler's car.
A few days later (Oct. 26), divers in Sauk County found Lee's wallet caught in a partially submerged branch in the Baraboo River. The wallet contained Lee Cutler's identification and a small amount of cash. The wallet was found about 300 yards downstream from where his car was recovered. Around this same time, an empty bottle of Tylenol PM was also found near Lee's car. He had been using the medication to help fall asleep.
Barry Frazin, the teen’s stepfather, said Cutler had been going through a difficult time, dealing with his grandmother’s battle with cancer, another friend having cancer, and stresses with school. The friend Cutler had driven home told police Cutler had also recently broken up with his girlfriend. He had been quiet at the sleepover and the next morning during the car ride.
Lee Cutler's case has been featured on Investigation Discovery's Disappeared, which features high-profile missing persons cases. According to the show, while many signs point to suicide, investigators are baffled why Cutler has not yet been found. After a thorough search of the entire area, they are certain that he is nowhere near the state park where his car was found.
Click here to read Disappeared's story on Lee Cutler.
Oct. 19 Lee Cutler attends a friend's birthday party and spends the night. He is reportedly quiet.
9:50 a.m. - Cutler drives another friend home. He is reportedly quiet. Cutler never arrives to work at Rock America in Vernon Hills.
12:30 a.m. - Tracking of Cutler’s cell phone indicates this is the last time it was used.
1:41 p.m. - Cutler visits Kettle Moraine State Forest.
1: 41 p.m. - Cutler's car is found at a rest stop in Baraboo, Wis.
A.M. - Cutler's yarmulke, love letters, pants, and keys are found in the woods.
Oct. 26 - Cutler's wallet is found in the Baraboo River. An empty bottle of Tylenol PM is found near his car.
If you have information about Lee Cutler, contact Buffalo Grove Police Department, (847)-459-2560.
Facts of Interest in This Case
Name/age: Lee Cutler, 18
Last Seen: 10/20/07, 9:50 a.m., Buffalo Grove, IL
Physical Description: 5 feet,10 inches tall, 140 pounds, wearing a dark blue sweater with a red stripe and khaki pants.
Notes: Lee is a senior in high school, and one of three children. He just celebrated his 18th birthday.
Investigating agency: Buffalo Grove Police Department, (847)-459-2560.