UPDATED Tuesday, October 23, 2012--4:30p.m.
Five years ago this week an Illinois man went missing--and the search trail led all the way to our viewing area.
18-year-old Lee Cutler was from the Chicago suburbs, and a couple of days after he was reported missing, his car was found near highway 33. Searchers also found a backpack and blankets that belonged to Cutler near the Baraboo River. His pants, wallet and keys were found clinging to a branch in the water. A body was never found.
We spoke by phone with Cutler's mother by phone, she said there's nothing new in the search for him--but said she has a feeling that he's alive. She described Cutler as a wonderful kid who is very kind, funny and sweet. She said the night before he disappeared he had slept over at a friend's house. The next day he didn't show up for work or answer her phone calls. She said she doesn't know what happened to him, but she's hoping somebody out there does. She said if he's alive, she just wants him to come home. "I want to say to Lee that please contact me, I love you no matter what," said Beth Frazin, Cutler's mom. "It doesn't matter why he left, I just want to know that he's safe. I love him unconditionally."
Frazin said Cutler would be 23-years-old by now.
We also spoke with the Buffalo Grove Police Department. They said that this is technically still an open case--but that they only occasionally get tips.
If you have any information about Cutler's disappearance, you're asked to contact police.
Search for Lee Cutler Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/groups/5883905417/
"They wanted an opportunity to say 'ok, this is where he picked to stop.' They want to understand that," Dan De Grazia says.
Friends of a missing teen re-trace his steps in Sauk County.
Eighteen-year-old Lee Cutler was reported missing from Buffalo Grove, Illinois on October 20th of last year. His car was found a couple of days later at a historical marker outside of Baraboo.
This group of Illinois teens comes in search of answers.
"For many of them it's their senior Spring break. And they chose to come out here and you know... just, it's closure," De Grazia says.
Where is their beloved friend 18-year-old Lee Cutler?
Family friend Dan De Grazia is helping Lee's friends, re-trace his steps as much as possible. De Grazia says Cutler had visited nearby Devil's Lake but no one knows exactly what brought him here.
"He was our hippie. I can completely understand why this is such a beautiful place and I could see if he was driving down the highway, wanting to stop here and look around," friend Anna Graham says.
This is where Lee Cutler's car was found back in October. Within days, search teams recovered a pair of pants with his wallet and keys in the river but no Lee.
"We don't know if he said I think I'm going to thumb a ride or if he decided to put himself in the river," De Grazia says.
Lee's mother, Beth Frazin, who made an emotional plea for her son's safe return last Fall is hopeful Texas Equusearch, a well known search and recovery team, will search the Baraboo River when the weather warms up.
"When we get to that point, it's the thing we don't want to talk about, but it's just getting an answer," De Grazia says.
In the meantime...posters will serve as a reminder of an unmistakable young man...
"He's so funny, happy go lucky... He could shave his head, put on glasses... grow a mustache... and none of us would miss him in a crowd in a second," De Grazia says.
... A young man missing for far too long.
"Boy we miss him," De Grazia says.
The sheriff's department says it has received no new leads, but investigators plan to walk the river again this season. Lee's mother is trying to get donations to help Texas Equusearch make the trip.
The address is below:
"Find Lee" Fund
Attention: Valbona Ceci, Senior Personal Banker
500 Half Day Rd.
Buffalo Grove, IL 60089