Real Name: John Charles Lutter
Aliases: Jack Lutter
Wanted For: Bigamy, Fraud
Missing Since: March 1987
Details: Jack Lutter was a flight engineer for United Airlines. In 1978, he met a marine biologist named Caroline. On September 27, 1980, the two married in Lake Tahoe. In August of 1986, after six years of marriage, he vanished without a trace. At first, she assumed that he was just busy with work. Then, for four weeks, he did not call and she had no idea what had happened to him. The situation became more serious when their son Jonathan was diagnosed with a hernia and needed immediate surgery. She called the airline and spoke to his supervisor. She was shocked to learn that other women had been calling about him.
It was soon discovered that Lutter was a bigamist who had six wives and at least fifteen children, dating back to the 1960s. The wives were all from "male-dominated cultures" where women rarely questioned their husbands. He initially met each of his wives through chance encounters. For example, he met his fifth wife Fatima on an airport bus in Seattle. Just a few months later, they were married in Reno. They moved to San Francisco and had two children.
However, he did not marry every woman that he had a relationship with. Another woman, Theresa Renova, became his common-law wife. They met in Denver in 1980, had a child, and then moved to El Paso, Texas. Like his other wives, she needed a job to make ends meet. Interestingly, he mentioned to her in a conversation that he "hated" divorce.
Once Lutter disappeared, his wives began calling each other. Theresa and Caroline tried to piece together information about his newest marriages. Meanwhile, Fatima visited a condo in San Francisco where his grandfather supposedly lived. In fact, his grandfather did not live there. However, she did find Lutter's stash of personal items. This included explicit sexual photos of his wives.
Knowing that Lutter 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 across the country. She realized that he had lied to her about his financial situation, claiming that he had no money. He had forced her to find her own job and make her own money. He also borrowed her money and used it to make the mortgage payments for his other women.
Caroline packed up his belongings, filed a missing persons report, and asked police to investigate her suspicions of bigamy. Investigators discovered that Lutter kept the facade up well with each wife, not missing birthdays, anniversaries, or other important dates. They also discovered that his wives lived in cities on his airline routes. His scam worked perfectly until he was promoted and his routes changed.
After the route change, he vanished. For six weeks, none of his wives heard from him. One night, he called Caroline, claiming that he was being held in a Cuban prison after being shipwrecked off the Cuban coast. She knew that he was lying, but pretended that she believed him. Two days later, he called from the airport. She planned to alert the police, but decided to confront him first. She insisted that they talk in a public place, so they went to a restaurant near the airport.
By the end of their conversation, Caroline did not have the heart to turn him in. She felt that his "world was crashing down" so she had sympathy for him. They spent the weekend together. On Monday, she took him to the airport and he told her that he was going to try to get his job back. However, he never returned to her. Instead, he spent six months in El Paso with Theresa. Despite knowing about the other women, she also did not turn him in.
In March of 1987, Lutter was fired by the airline and then disappeared again. A Seattle court has issued a warrant for his arrest on charges of bigamy.
Extra Notes: This segment originally ran as part of Special #3 on the September 24, 1987 episode. The film Frequent Flyer is based on the case.
Results: Unresolved. After the broadcast, another wife of Lutter's came forward. In November of 2000, John Lutter was recognized and arrested at Los Angeles International Airport, returned to Seattle and convicted of bigamy. He was released after serving 90 days because none of his wives could be located.
Conflicting reports are circulating over whether Lutter is still wanted for any crimes. According to the new Unsolved Mysteries, Lutter is wanted by Seattle authorities for violating his probation and not making court payments. However, according to Sgt. John Urquhart of the King's County Sheriff's Office, the bigamy charges were dropped after his wives could not be located. He confirmed that there were no active warrants for Lutter. As a result, the case was closed.
In 2006, Lutter allegedly showed up at the home of one of his wives in Sacramento, California looking to make amends to her and their four children. Recently, several of Lutter's children have come forward, hoping to find their half-siblings and/or Lutter himself.
- Jack Lutter at Unsolved.com
- Blog about Jack Lutter and "Frequent Flyer"
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- SitcomsOnline Discussion of Jack Lutter (update)
- SitcomsOnline Discussion of Jack Lutter (includes articles)