Unsolved Mysteries Wiki

Real Name: John Charles Lutter
Aliases: Jack Lutter
Wanted For: Bigamy
Missing Since: March 1987


Details: Forty-five-year-old Jack Lutter disappeared from Seattle, Washington, in August 1986. His wife, Caroline, soon discovered he was married to at least five other women and had fathered more than fifteen children. He is now wanted for bigamy.
Jack had been a flight engineer for United Airlines since 1965. In 1978, he met Caroline, a marine biologist. They were married at Lake Tahoe on September 27, 1980. According to her, they were happy for most of their marriage. He told her that he never thought he would have a child. However, they were able to have a son, Jonathan, in 1985. She was happy to give Jack something she thought he had never had before.
Over time, Caroline grew more in love with Jack, which she did not think was possible. She understood that he was a pilot and that he would be away from home a lot. But many times, he would not show up on the day he was supposed to. She would cry and be upset because she planned her weekends around the belief that he would be home.
Jack spent his last weekend with Caroline in July 1986. On August 1, he called and told her he was flying to Africa and would not return for the weekend. For four weeks, he did not call, and she had no idea where he had gone. The situation worsened when Jonathan was diagnosed with a hernia and needed immediate surgery.
Caroline called United Airlines headquarters to try and find Jack. They told her she was not listed as his wife in his personnel records. When she spoke to his supervisor, she was shocked to learn that other women had also been calling for him.
Caroline felt terrible and betrayed. After loving Jack for so many years, she felt like her love for him had been violated. She found out that every single thing he had told her was a lie. He told her that throughout his life, he had been so dedicated to his work and getting an education that he never had time for other women. He told her that he was a "one-woman man" and that she was the only woman in his life. She discovered that that was untrue and that there were many other women in his life.
Caroline discovered that some of those women were, in fact, not just girlfriends but Jack's wives. For years, he has successfully created a life of bigamy and an intricate financial network that supported six condominiums, six houses, a fifty-foot yacht, six wives, and at least fifteen children throughout the United States. Now, he has disappeared. His wives all had one thing in common: they were from male-dominated cultures where women seldom questioned their husbands' actions.
In 1957, Jack, then a teenager, married his first wife, Margaret, in Denver, Colorado. They later moved to California and had four daughters. One day, when Margaret was pregnant with their fourth child, he placed her and the children on a plane and sent them to her mother's home on the East Coast. They never saw him again. Margaret divorced him in 1966.
That same year, Jack married his second wife in Denver. They married again in a religious ceremony in San Francisco, California, then again in Reno, Nevada, "to make sure the marriage was legal". They later moved to Sacramento, California. Between 1967 and 1984, they had four children.
Another wife, Jody, was originally from Greece. In 1972, she married Jack in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1982, they moved to Tampa, Florida, and she got a job at a bank. Between 1982 and 1985, they had two children. A Nicaraguan woman is also believed to have married Jack in 1972. They had at least one child in 1973.
Jack initially met most of his wives through chance encounters. His fifth wife, Fatima, was originally from the South Pacific. In 1983, she was working at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport when she "fell under his spell" on an airport bus. Initially, she did not think he was attractive, just friendly and nice. Then, he gave her his phone number and asked for hers. Four months later, they married in Reno. They moved to San Francisco and had two sons.
Jack told Fatima that his job prevented him from being home more. When he was home, he would pay their bills from a checking account in his name. While he was gone, she had trouble managing their finances. He would give her some money, but it often was not enough.
Fatima remembers that Jack acted strangely at times. Some of his actions led her to believe that he had other women in his life. She says she overlooked many things during their marriage because, in her culture, it was a disgrace for a family to break up. She last saw him in June 1986, when they spent a month together in Denver.
Not all of Jack's women were married to him. Teresa Renova, whom he met in Denver in 1980, was his common-law wife. In 1981, they had a child together. Then, he moved her to El Paso, Texas. Like his other wives, Teresa needed a job to make ends meet. She believed they were going to spend the rest of their lives together. She never believed he was unfaithful. He always told her that he hated people who got divorced because he did not believe in it.
There was also another woman living in San Francisco that Jack was planning to marry. However, he disappeared before that could take place.
Once Jack disappeared, his wives began calling each other. Teresa and Caroline slowly pieced together the true story of his bigamy. He had told Fatima about a condominium in San Francisco where his grandfather supposedly lived. When she searched the condo, there was no grandfather. But she did find a secret cache of Jack's personal belongings, including posters of nude women, garter belts, and explicit sexual photos of his many wives.
The discovery felt like a nightmare for Fatima. It was hard for her to look at the pictures. She was hurt when she found out that she was not the only woman in Jack's life. She realized that the nice things he said to her were the same things he had said to his other wives and that he did not mean what he said.
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 across the country. She began to realize that not only did he have other women, but he had also lied to her about his financial situation.
Jack told Caroline that he had lost all of his money due to bad investments. He never supported her financially and instead borrowed money from her. He then used that money to pay for mortgage payments on other properties where his other wives or women were living. He also used her money to invest in real estate. She was angry when she discovered that. She learned that he had told similar stories to his other wives, and they lent him money as well.
On September 8, 1986, one month after Caroline last saw Jack, she packed up his belongings, filed a missing persons report, filed for divorce, and asked the police to investigate her suspicions of bigamy.
Investigators have noted that this case has been difficult because marriage and divorce records are filed by county. Some of Jack's wives have had trouble locating their marriage licenses; it has been theorized that he divorced some of them without their knowledge.
Sgt. Keith May of the King County Police Department describes this case as unbelievable. He was aghast at the "job" Jack had to do to keep up the facade. Somehow, he never missed anniversaries, holidays, or birthdays for his children or wives. He visited each family every few weeks. He would send mail to one wife from one location and make her think he was somewhere else.
Sgt. May says Jack's capacity for detail is unbelievable. He was able to disengage himself from one family entirely and then reengage himself with another family and act like he had never been gone at all.
Jack's wives lived in cities on his airline routes, and his system worked perfectly until United Airlines decided to promote him and change his routes. His intricate web of wives and lies began to unravel. He promptly vanished, and for six weeks, none of his wives heard from him. On August 15, 1986, he sent two teletypes to United Airlines, claiming he was "stranded in the Caribbean".
Then, on September 23, a deputy sheriff located Jack in Hillsboro County, Florida, at the home of his wife, Jody. The two had been working on a house in Fort Lauderdale and were planning to move there. Jack was interviewed, but since no charges had been filed against him at that time, he was released.
Shortly afterward, Jack called Caroline in the middle of the night. 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 Jack was lying, but to lure him back, she pretended to believe him. Two days later, he called from Sea-Tac Airport. She had planned to alert the police, but that night, she decided first to confront him and then call the authorities. After picking him up, she insisted that they talk in a public place, so they drove to a restaurant near the airport.
Caroline told Jack that she knew about his other wives, but he denied being married to anyone else. He told her that he was Catholic and that Catholics do not believe in divorce. She later learned that he told other women that he was either Catholic, Jewish, or Mormon, depending on their religion.
By the end of their conversation, Caroline did not have the heart to turn Jack in to the authorities. She saw him as a man whose whole life had broken apart. To her, he was like a "wounded, cornered animal". He was not willing to admit the truth.
Jack and Caroline spent the weekend together. On Monday, he told her that he was going to try and salvage whatever he could with his job. She agreed to take him to the airport. It was difficult for her to say goodbye because part of her still loved him. She also figured that it was probably the last time she would ever see him.
Jack walked down the ramp and out of Caroline's life forever. Then, he simply went to the haven of another one of his wives. For six months, he lived in El Paso with Teresa, and although she knew of his infidelity, she did not turn him in either. In December 1986, he called Fatima and said he missed her and their children. In March 1987, he was fired by United Airlines. He then disappeared again.
Jack's attorney, John Etienne, believes Jack has a psychological problem. Jack told him that he thought he had either divorced his wives or was not legally married to them. Jack maintained contact with Etienne until he disappeared. Etienne does not believe Jack is fleeing and claims that Jack "wants this mess squared away". He also claims that Jack's wives still love him.
Sgt. May says he knows why Jack did what he did, when he did it, for how long, and what the results are. What he does not know is where Jack is today. The King County Superior Court in Seattle has issued a warrant for Jack's arrest on a charge of bigamy. Authorities believe he is most likely in the company of a loving, unsuspecting woman.
Extra Notes:

  • This case originally aired on the September 24, 1987 Special #3 episode of Unsolved Mysteries with Karl Malden as host.
  • It was later re-profiled in the Dennis Farina hosted series on the March 22, 2010 episode.
  • It was excluded from the FilmRise release of Robert Stack episodes.
  • Interestingly, it was categorized as a "Lost Loves" case instead of "Wanted".
  • The film Frequent Flyer is based on it.
  • Another case of a missing bigamist is Bo Tanner.
  • Some sources spell Teresa's name as "Theresa" and state: Jack was married seven times and had sixteen children; he left the airline on July 1, 1986; Caroline was a utility company supervisor; he had another wife in Los Angeles; and Caroline was the only wife who wanted to press charges against him.

Results: Unresolved - In November 2000, Jack was spotted and arrested at Los Angeles International Airport. He was then extradited to Seattle to face charges of bigamy. Sources vary on what happened next.
According to Unsolved Mysteries, Jack was convicted of bigamy and served ninety days in jail. He was then released on probation. However, he violated his probation by disappearing once again. He also failed to make court payments. A Seattle court has issued a new warrant for his arrest.
However, according to Sgt. John Urquhart of the King County Sheriff’s Office, in January 2001, the bigamy charges against Jack were dropped when his wives could not be located. He was then released from jail. According to Sgt. Urquhart, there are no active warrants for Jack.
In 2006, Jack reportedly showed up at the home of one of his wives in Sacramento, looking to make amends with her and their four children. At the time, no one was home, but he left a note saying he was living in Las Vegas and would try to reach out to them again. More recently, several of his children have come forward, hoping to find their half-siblings and/or Jack himself.
Jack is 6’2” tall, weighs between 200 and 220 pounds, and has light brown hair. He may have a mustache or a beard. He was born around 1942.