Charles Rutherford Jr.
Rutherford, approximately 2005; Lana Stempien; The Sea's Life
Date reported missing : 08/11/2005
Missing location (approx) :
Presque Isle, Michigan
Missing classification : Lost/Injured Missing
Gender : Male
DOB : 03/17/1971 (50)
Age at the time of disappearance: 34 years old
Height / Weight : 6'2, 205 pounds
Distinguishing characteristics, birthmarks, tattoos
: Caucasian male. Brown hair, hazel eyes. Rutherford's nickname is Chuck.
Information on the case from local sources, may or may not be correct : Rutherford was last seen at approximately 12:30 p.m. at the Presque Isle Marina in Presque Isle, Michigan. He and his live-in girlfriend, Lana Ann Stempien, were planning to travel across Lake Huron to Mackinac Island in 27-foot Wellcraft Cabin Cruiser named Sea's Life. Photographs of Stempien and their boat are posted with this case summary.
At 2:07 p.m., Stempien called a relative on her cellular phone and said she and Rutherford were a few hours from Mackinac Island. That was the last contact with her. The next morning, when the couple had not arrived on the island, they were reported missing.
That same day, Sea's Life was found idling in neutral, ten miles from Mackinac Island. The radio was playing, the running lights were off and the swim ladder was up, and there was a 20-foot line floating off the back of the boat. The boat was empty and there were no signs of Rutherford or Stempien anywhere.
The couple's cellular phones, shoes and life preservers were still on board. One of the knobs from the instrument panel had come off and was found embedded in the sole of Stempien's shoe.
Two weeks after Rutherford and Stempien disappeared, Stempien's body washed ashore near Hammond Bay, several miles from where her boat was found. She was naked except for a thin gold necklace, a ring and her Omega watch, which her loved ones say she never wore in the water, as it was expensive and not waterproof.
There was an elevated level of carbon monoxide in Stempien's blood and investigators theorized she became overcome with fumes from the boat motor while swimming. The cause of death was ruled as drowning.
The couple's loved ones stated both Rutherford and Stempien were strong swimmers and trained in boat and water safety, and were not risk-takers. Coast Guard officials stated the water conditions on the day they went missing were fine were boating, but may have been too rough for swimming. The water temperature that day was approximately 68 degrees.
Some of Stempien's loved ones suspect foul play was involved in her death. There were reports that Rutherford and Stempien were having relationship problems prior to her death, but other witnesses characterized the couple's relationship as strong and loving.
Authorities stated there was no evidence of a struggle on the boat or any trauma to Stempien's body, and it is likely that she and Rutherford drowned accidentally. Rutherford is still missing and his disappearance remains under investigation.
Other information and links : ncy
Michigan State Police
September 2021 updates and sources
A missing person is a person who has disappeared and whose status as alive or dead cannot be confirmed as their location and condition are not known. A person may go missing through a voluntary disappearance, or else due to an accident, crime, death in a location where they cannot be found (such as at sea), or many other reasons. In most parts of the world, a missing person will usually be found quickly. While criminal abductions are some of the most widely reported missing person cases, these account for only 2–5% of missing children in Europe.
By contrast, some missing person cases remain unresolved for many years. Laws related to these cases are often complex since, in many jurisdictions, relatives and third parties may not deal with a person's assets until their death is considered proven by law and a formal death certificate issued. The situation, uncertainties, and lack of closure or a funeral resulting when a person goes missing may be extremely painful with long-lasting effects on family and friends.
Several organizations seek to connect, share best practices, and disseminate information and imAge at the time of disappearance: s of missing children to improve the effectiveness of missing children investigations, including the International Commission on Missing Persons, the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC), as well as national organizations, including the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children in the US, Missing People in the UK, Child Focus in Belgium, and The Smile of the Child in Greece.
The Detroit News
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Interactive Missing Person Search Map