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Thread: Lee Cutler

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    beeinjar Lee Cutler

    Every day for the last year, Beth Frazin has been hoping her son will walk through the front door with some explanation of where he's been.
    Today marks the anniversary of Lee Cutler's disappearance, which is still shrouded in mystery.
    The first sign of trouble came on Oct. 20, 2007, when the 18-year-old Buffalo Grove teen failed to show up at his job. Frazin said she knew right then that something was wrong.
    "I just had this intuition that he was gone," she said.
    Frazin's motherly instinct also led her to think Cutler headed to Wisconsin, although she couldn't figure out why exactly he would go there that day. She was right, though: His car and some personal belongings were found there in the days following his disappearance.
    But that's where the trail goes cold. Frazin, Cutler's friends and authorities all are at a loss to explain what could have happened next.
    It's been months since any new information has been found, either by a private detective hired by the Frazins, or by police.
    Buffalo Grove authorities have closed their investigation for now, pending new tips about Cutler.
    "We still communicate with Sauk County (Wisc.)," Cmdr. Steve Husak said. "You hope if he is out there that he would contact the family."
    Cutler had slept over at a friend's house the night before his disappearance. He was supposed to be working that Saturday, Oct. 20, at Rock America in Vernon Hills. Police at the time said he was dropped off at 9:50 a.m. for his shift, which started at noon.
    Frazin said Cutler's boss thought that he had just forgotten that he was supposed to be working. But she knew something was off.
    The night before, he had given Frazin a hug that lasted longer than usual.
    "I probably should have realized then," she said. "It just didn't seem like there was anything wrong."
    Two days later, the Stevenson High School senior's Toyota Corolla was found in Wisconsin. The Sauk County sheriff's police did an air and ground search of the cornfield and Baraboo River. Officers found blankets and a backpack belonging to Cutler near the river.
    A few days after than, police also found Cutler's tan pants, wallet and keys in the river itself. They also found Cutler's yarmulke, letters to and from loved ones and an empty Advil PM bottle.
    Cutler also left a note telling his mom to be happy, which led to speculations of suicide.
    However, Frazin doesn't believe that could be the case.
    Much conjecture also followed after a copy of "Into the Wild" was found with Cutler's belongings. The main character in the book left his family to live off the land, and theories surfaced that the nature-loving Cutler planned the same.
    Frazin again disputes those theories, saying the book was just assigned reading in a class and that she doesn't put much stock into the finding.
    While the sweep of the river continued, no sign of Cutler himself was ever found.
    "We believe we searched the river well enough that if the body had been there, we would have discovered it," said Capt. Kevin Fults of the Sauk County sheriff's police.
    Frazin said her big fear is that her son was abducted while in Wisconsin and is in danger. She's spent the year worrying and unable to move forward.
    "I feel like I'm suspended in the air," she said. "A part of my heart is broken."
    Frazin has also had a hard time packing up Cutler's belongings as she moves out of her Buffalo Grove home. Her husband, Barry, died in August of a heart attack, and she found it too trying to live in the house any longer.
    Frazin said her husband, Cutler's stepfather, was integral in searching for her son, but he may also have contributed to him leaving.
    "He had a volatile relationship with the kids," she said.
    Frazin has continued working at the Northeastern Illinois University library to keep some semblance of normalcy in her life, but takes medication to hold back the ever-present tears.
    On Oct. 2, Cutler's 19th birthday, Frazin went to work so that she wouldn't spend her day crying. The decision provided a moment of serendipity when a woman came into the library talking about her own missing son.
    One of the hardest parts of the year was the fact that no support groups exist in the area for parents of missing children, but Frazin found a kindred spirit with the stranger.
    She also relies on her family ­- including her 21-year-old son - and friends to keep her spirits up; she meets every month for breakfast with a group of local women who provide an outlet for her. Cutler's friends also keep in touch with her and make sure she's doing OK.
    "Every holiday and birthday, they'd call me or text me," Frazin said. "Family and friends, I don't know what I'd do without them."
    She will be holding a conference call today with Cutler's friends, many of whom are at college this year, to relive their memories of the missing teen.
    Frazin also continues to check her e-mail address,, for clues that someone may have spotted Cutler somewhere or that he might send her a note to reassure her he's OK.
    "It's like I have a piece of him in me," Frazin said. "I think about Lee every single day. I can't give up hope. Wherever he is, I hope that he's healthy and safe."

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