Police in Cochise County, Arizona released body camera footage showing their interaction with Stephen and Monica Lutz more than two months after they and their kids were reported missing, police believing they were allegedly in “grave danger.”
A family member contacted the Newton Police Department in Illinois back in February claiming they hadn’t seen Stephen, 44, Monica, 34, Aiden, 11, and Nicholas Lutz, 9, for a few days and were concerned about their safety. Days turned into weeks — and weeks turned into months — before anyone was able to make contact with the family of four.
“We just decided to… we were ready for something new,” Monica is heard saying in the body camera footage. An officer found her and the boys living in what appeared to be a pop-up camper.
Surveillance footage from early February showed the family leaving in the middle of the night in their truck – a blue 2005 Ford F150 – towing a U-Haul. The last ping of their electronic devices was in Richmond, Indiana — then their digital footprint went cold.
“I had literally dropped all of my cell phones and just… and we just left,” Stephen said to the responding officer in Arizona. License plate readers tracked the family down to Cochise County.
Brittany Lutz, one of Stephen’s older children, said her father was arrested in January for domestic battery and was allegedly caught talking to himself by one of his young sons saying he needed to kill his family.
“My daughter is trying to cause a bunch of trouble for us,” Stephen said to the officer. “We just got away from all of the mess.”
Stephen told the officer that he wanted to travel and show his sons the world — hoping to explore the Grand Canyon and Hollywood. So, he claims he pulled his retirement and took off.
“I got into some things I shouldn’t have back home,” he said. “I needed to get away from that.”
The body camera footage recorded a phone call between Newton Police Chief Riley Britton and Stephen — Stephen apologized saying he didn’t mean to freak anyone out and that he was “tired of all of the crap.”
Britton asked Stephen about what they planned to do about their house, since the family admitted they just got up and left, leaving the majority of their belongings behind. Stephen said he hoped to sell it.
“Wanna buy it?” Stephen joked with the chief. “I’ll give you a hell of a deal. $10,000 cash.”
The sheriff asked Stephen if he would call some of his family members, especially Brittany, just to let them know he, Monica, and the kids were safe, but he refused, claiming they “stabbed him in the back.”
“I’m sorry I scared you,” he said. “Just don’t tell them where I’m at. Nobody else needs to know where I’m at. It ain’t nobody’s business.”
A warrant is out for Stephen’s arrest due to the domestic battery charges pending in Illinois. However, it’s a misdemeanor charge, which typically have low priorities for extradition from state to state.
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