An Illinois family of four has been missing since mid-February, and extended family members are frustrated at the lack of progress in finding them — and worried.
Stephen, 44, and Monica Lutz, 34, and their children, 11-year-old Aiden and 9-year-old Nicholas, haven’t been seen since February 10, although Stephen Lutz responded to a text from his daughter, half-sister to the boys Brittany Lutz, on February 14.
“On February 14 I did text my father Stephen and said if they needed to get away, I could take the boys and just get them back to a normal life. He said they have a normal life, they aren’t together and he’s not allowed to be around them,” she told WCIA.
He wasn’t allowed to be around them because of a domestic violence case against him. The father appeared in court on January 19 on the charge and was released on bond and ordered not to contact his wife or children or enter the home. It wasn’t the first time he’d been investigated for domestic violence, and not the first time Monica Lutz had allowed him to come back.
Brittany Lutz told WCIA that shortly before the family disappeared, Aiden had texted her to say the family was going on vacation but he didn’t know where. A U-Haul was seen at the house on February 10, attached to the Lutzes’ 2005 blue Ford F-150 with Illinois plates 3078512B. The U-Haul was returned, but there’s been no further contact with the family, and their cell phones were disconnected on February 14.
Newton police seem reluctant to investigate, especially after seeing the text messages.
“How far can we go if the family is on a vacation?” said Newton Police Chief Riley Britton.
Police accepted a missing persons report on the family on April 3, Brittany Lutz said in a Facebook post. Britton said Illinois State Police and the FBI have joined the investigation, adding that it’s possible the family left Illinois.
Brittany Lutz said that her stepmother has continually denied being abused by Stephen Lutz, but the arrest in January came when he allegedly hit her. “From what I was told, Monica and the boys had to run to a neighbor’s house to be able to call 9-1-1 and get away from him. They had no shoes on,” she said.
But the most disturbing incident was relayed by 11-year-old Aiden. He said he went into his parents’ bedroom one day in January and saw his father talking to clown mask on the wall, telling the mask, “I know what I need to do.” And what he needed to do was kill his wife and two children.
Brittany said she stopped by the house on the day they disappeared to try to help. She returned a few hours later, and they were gone.
“The boys’ school workbooks and everything were still sitting on the kitchen table. Food out that looked like they were in the middle of eating it,” she said.
According to WCIA, the Missing Persons Awareness Network is raising money to fund a $20,000 reward for information leading authorities to the family.
Stephen Lutz is described as 5 feet 6 inches tall and 200 pounds, with short brown hair and brown eyes. Monica Lutz is 5 feet 4 inches tall and 180 pounds with long brown hair and brown eyes. Nicholas is described as 4 feet 3 inches with brown hair and eyes and olive skin, and Aiden is 4 feet 7 inches with brown/red hair and brown eyes.
“Stephen and Monica, if you happen to see this – just please reach out to us,” the police chief said. “We want to make sure that you’re safe, we want to make sure that the kids are safe. Please. I know you guys know me, we’ve known each other for a while. Please contact and if you want to talk to me specifically, you can. I just want to know that you guys are all safe.”
Anyone with information should contact the Newton Police Department at 618-783-8478. The Missing Persons Awareness Network can be contacted at 312-620-0788.
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[Featured image: L-R, Stephen, Monica, Aiden, and Nicholas Lutz/Facebook]