Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance
Details of Disappearance
Chuck and his girlfriend, Lana Stempien, left Presque Isle, Michigan, in their boat, the Sea's Life, on August 11, 2005. They were taking a trip from Belle River, Ontario to Mackinac Island. Stempien was the daughter of a coast guardsman and was a skilled sailor, so the trip was expected to be fairly simple.
At about 1:45 p.m., Lana called her parents and aunt via cell phone, telling them that she and Chuck were near Rogers City. They were roughly two hours from Mackinac Island, and would call when they arrived. The call never came.On August 12, 2005, the boat was found southeast of Marquette Island in northern Lake Huron with its engine idling. Stempien and Rutherford were not on board. There were no signs of struggle or foul play.
Two weeks later, Stempien's body washed ashore at Hammond Bay. An autopsy determined she drowned, and had high levels of carbon monoxide in her body. There were negligible amounts of alcohol in her system. She was nude except for a waterproof watch and necklace.On the boat, her sneaker was found with a knob embedded in the sole; the knob was supposed to fasten the boat's global positioning satellite device to the instrument panel. The GPS device, according to investigators, appeared to have been turned on at about 1:22 a.m. August 12, the day the boat was found. At that time, it put the boat about 10 miles out in Lake Huron off Nine Mile Point -- about 12 miles away from where it was found about eight hours later. The couple lived together in Grosse Pointe Farms, a suburb of Detroit. The state police say there's no evidence of foul play, and Rutherford could have drowned; it's not unusual for boaters who drown in Lake Huron never to rise from its deep, cold waters. All of the couples' personal effects were left on the boat.
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Michigan State Police
Sgt. Robin Sexton
Lana Stempien and Charles Rutherford
Detroit Free Press