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I was in awe. He says Lana tetx adhered to the strict rules of boating she learned from her dad. Within hours they had converged from all over the state, pouring over maps, renting airplanes, helicopters, even jet skis. Crowley: In very short order we had about 20 people. Hansen: At first did you hold out hope that maybe Lana and Chuck would be found alive?
We were completely thinking "search and rescue. Detective Sexton, Michigan P. It appeared that somebody just walked off the boat. There was nothing untoward, unusual about the boat condition at all.
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Detective Sexton: Nothing. No damage to the boat. Things that may have been considered of value were still there. Money was in the wallet. Clothes islznd laying on the deck. Nothing unusual. The natural assumption is they drowned. Had the couple simply gone for a swim and somehow drifted dangerously far from the boat? Hansen: Boat got away from them — they islanx When Richard Bannon waved goodbye to the couple that morning in Oscoda, they were bundled up in sweatshirts.
And, when she talked to her Islahd Pat, Lana hardly sounded like she was ready to dive in for a swim. We wanted to avoid the rough water. And an accidental drowning seemed every bit as unlikely. Koczara: We knew that both her and Chuck were excellent swimmers. At the wedding in Bermuda, we watched them tread water for maybe 20 minutes to 30 minutes and I had that in my mind. Swanson: We figured they had to be out there somewhere.
It was a slim, but comforting thread of hope. But on Tuesday, August 16, five days after Lana and Chuck had last been heard from, that hope began to fade. This is where I am. The boat got away from me. Beverly Wheaton, Huron beach resident: I was sitting at the picnic table and looking out and saw something It was Lana. Crowley: We were crushed.
Swanson: Nobody could stop crying. We could mzckinac and mxckinac for her. We could put her to rest. Instead of providing answers, her body only deepened the mystery of what had gone wrong on Lake Huron. She was found nude, wearing only a necklace, a ring and her treasured Omega watch. Hansen: Did it disturb you that she was found unclothed?
Swanson: Very disturbing. Why was she naked? It just raises more questions frriend what happened. Were Lana and her boyfriend Chuck just enjoying a romantic skinny dip when something went tragically wrong?
Tammy Swanson, cousin: No. Hansen: People go skinny dipping all the time—romantic couples? Swanson: No. Why is your jewelry frind The Omega watch Tammy Swanson says her cousin always removed her jewelry before swimming and always put it in exactly the same place. Swanson: She would have put her rings through the watch clasp and put it through the steering wheel. Hansen: She did the same thing every time?
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So why was her jewelry still on? Swanson: It was a very precious piece of jewelry to her. Hansen: Does it make mackkinac to you that she would go into the water voluntarily with this prized possession? Too cold for swimming Plus, there was the weather. Swanson: It was cold. But what about drinking? She was extremely safe.
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Msckinac she were gonna have a drink or two, she would wait until she got to shore. Without hard evidence, lead investigator Detective Robin Sexton says any talk of foul play is pure speculation. Hansen: The autopsy showed no obvious s of trauma. Does that rule out foul play?
Cote: No. Because you can have an absence of trauma and still drown. Cote: Yes. Cote: If you took a hammer and tried to pound that in, you would have difficulty doing that. Swanson: That was very odd. The Coast Guard told us that the only way that the knob could have been embedded in her shoe was with force.
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Hansen: Does that indicate to you that there was some sort of struggle on board this boat? Swanson: That there was something. Frirnd Something out of the ordinary? Swanson: Something out of the ordinary, something happened. Cote also points to a suspiciously large tear in the back of the same shoe as one more hint of a violent struggle. Cote: It could very well be. Whose fenders? And then there are the mysterious fenders—which boaters use to protect their boats when they tie up to another boat.
Why is friennd line hanging off the back of the boat? Swanson: There were no blue bumpers. The only explanation is some third party.
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And if it was, who was on it— and why were they there? Detective Sexton: Sometime between when he left and they arrived, these fenders, and no disrespect to him, if they existed, disappeared. The Coast Guard never saw them. Behan: Those fenders were there. There was absolutely no frisnd about it. Absolutely, percent sure.
Cote: So the question is… where did they go? The possibility of foul play is very high on the agenda. At a. Detective Sexton: We had no idea what was going on. It appeared the track started makcinac that time in the morning for no apparent reason. Adding to the mystery, Dateline has learned that part of the memory on the GPS was suspiciously blank.
Hansen: Is it possible that somebody was messing around with this GPS, deleting information?
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Detective Sexton cautions that police are still analyzing the data from the GPS and are not prepared to draw any conclusions from it. But who would do that, and why? Why was her shoe torn? Where did those blue fenders come from? And why was Lana naked except for the jewelry she always took off before swimming? They were lingering and disturbing questions.
And the most troubling one: Where was Chuck?
Foul play? If foul play was involved in the disappearance of Lana Stempien and her boyfriend Chuck Rutherford, speculation about who would want to harm two successful young attorneys has run the gamut from pirates on the water, to a mafia hit. Chris Hansen, Dateline correspondent: This is not an area known for piracy. Jack Cote, helping the Stempien family in the investigation: No, no. Hansen: Chuck was a former criminal prosecutor. Somebody in the mafia might have been upset with him and gone after him and this was some kind of a hit?
Cote: Nobody to my knowledge to date has identified someone that he may have prosecuted that would have a vendetta against him. Maybe things went sour. But how did Lana die— and what happened to Chuck? And though we specialize in Mackinac Island and Northern Michigan items, we are a full service book store. If you don't see it on this site, just usand we probably have it, or can get it for you.
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