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Missing Woman: Lucille 'Louie' Lewis - WA - 01/2006

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http://www.newsregister.com/news/sto...tory_no=205051

Woman vanishes chasing Internet romance

Published: March 4, 2006

Brown: Last heard from in mid-January

By PAUL DAQUILANTE

Of the News-Register

NEWBERG - Cassie Jones holds little hope that her missing sister, Lucille "Louie" Lewis of Newberg, is still alive.

Jones is absolutely certain her sister would have called someone by now - a relative, a friend, an acquaintance, just to put everyone's mind at ease - if she were able.

She hasn't done that since mid-January, when she told a friend in Newberg she was returning to Yamhill County.

Lewis, a 5-foot-5, 53-year-old redhead, met Dean Earl Stipe on the Internet last October, about 10 months after the final dissolution of her 20-year marriage to Ken Lewis. She was not aware the Montana man, who lived northwest of Missoula in the tiny, remote community of St. Ignatius, was a convicted felon.

The next month, she ended her 25-year underwriting career with Oregon Mutual Insurance in McMinnville. She moved out of the Newberg home she shared with son Steve Baldoni and his family, consisting of a girlfriend and two young boys she adored. She got into a pickup with Stipe and set off for a new life in a remote part of rural Montana.

No one in her family has seen her, or heard from her, since the November day the two headed east together.

"I thought she would be back for Christmas, just for the kids, but she never showed up," said her ex-husband, who has remained on friendly terms with her even since entering a new relationship with Yvonne McClung.

Jones said she repeatedly tried to contact her sister by cell phone, but was never able to get any response. When she finally reached Stipe by phone, three months after her sister left for Montana, he claimed he dropped her off at the Missoula airport on Jan. 31 and hadn't seen her since.

Jones, who lives in Hubbard, finally decided to file a missing person's report. The second week of February, she filled it out and filed it with her home Marion County Sheriff's Office. It was faxed to the Lake County Sheriff's Office, located on Montana's Flathead Indian Reservation.

The office is based in Polson, which lies north of St. Ignatius on Highway 93. It covers reservation land surrounded by the Flathead National Forest and Lolo National Forest.

The report fell to detective Kim Leibenguth, whom Jones praises for work well beyond the call, bordering on obsession.

"No one has heard from her," Leibenguth said. "She met this man on the Internet and decided to move over here. She had no ties to this area. She had no job.

"She claimed to know a lot about him," Leibenguth said. "Some family members had met him - and didn't care for him, saying he wasn't their type - but each to his own."

---

While Lewis' whereabouts remains a mystery, Stipe's does not. Also 53, he's back in familiar surroundings - the Lake County Jail in Polson.

He was picked up possessing weapons, a violation of probation on a forgery conviction out of more populous Missoula County to the south. His bail was set at $25,000, and so far, no one has come forward to post the required 10 percent or $2,500.

The Leader Advertiser in Polson called him a "person of interest" in the Lewis disappearance. The paper said he was taken into custody on the probation violation after Lake County detectives going out to question him about the disappearance spotted weapons in the mobile home he had shared with Lewis.

"He has been questioned about her disappearance, but I can't elaborate," Leibenguth said. "This is an open and ongoing investigation."

Detective Jay Doyle said, "He happened to be the last person to see Lucille. He spoke with us, but there are still a lot of unanswered questions."

Doyle said no forensic evidence of foul play had been turned up so far in connection with Lewis' troubling disappearance.

"There was nothing in there to indicate a crime had been committed, other than items that violated his probation," Doyle said.

However, Ken Lewis said detectives told the family Stipe had forged the missing woman's signature on checks kited in Missoula and Flathead and pawned some of her jewelry. He said detectives had recovered some of the jewelry items.

"I was holding out hope for a long time," said Jones, who's privy to the same information. "But the more I've learned about the case from the detectives, and from what I know about my sister - if she was alive, she would have called by now, she would have called her grandkids - I don't hold out much hope."

---

Jones said their parents are deceased. She said she and her sister have just one other sibling, a brother living in Alaska.

Her sister hadn't dated much since the divorce, and seemed unhappy, Jones said. She was looking for a fairy tale romance, and thought she had found it when she met Stipe.

"I told her it could be dangerous," Jones said. "I didn't think it was safe. I told her if this was something she was going to do, she needed to check him out thoroughly and not jump into anything."

Jones told her sister that while some Internet romances are successful, others are not. She said she asked, "Did you check this man out?"

Lewis said she had, and was satisfied with everything she had learned. That leads family members to think she wasn't aware of his criminal record.

Leibenguth said detectives have also come to that conclusion.

"We don't know what she knew or thought she knew," the lead detective said. "But we don't think she knew he was on probation."

Jones and her husband met Stipe just once, hosting him and her sister for dinner, just before they set out for Montana. He was very different from anyone her sister had ever been attracted to in the past.

Jones said he seemed arrogant. And she said several claims he made raised red flags for her.

"He told us he was a retired federal marshal who had been injured in the line of duty and was living on a disability pension," Jones said. "We learned that wasn't true after filing the missing person's report.

Jones added, "I was totally shocked she moved away with him. Even now, when I think about it, I wonder what this man told her to convince her to leave like that. She's always been so sensible."

Ken Lewis has a very similar take.

During the early years of their marriage, the Lewises lived in McMinnville, with Ken working at Cascade Steel Rolling Mills and Louie at OMI. They moved to Newberg about 12 years ago to be closer to his elderly parents.

After the divorce, he turned the house over to her, along with his pickup, and now lives with his mother following the death of his father. He said he was surprised when he learned she had met someone over the Internet.

"It's the Internet," he said. "I thought that was kind of weird. It does happen. But I don't think I'd ever try to meet anyone on the Internet after this."

The Lewises had remained civil and kept in touch. Ken said his ex-wife was extremely close to the grandchildren, boys 12 and 9, and he would see her when he visited them.

He said he last talked to her in November, right before she left for Montana with Stipe.

"I was not impressed with him," Lewis said, "but she seemed happy. She said they seemed to click. We're divorced, and she was going on with her life. I told her, 'It's your choice. I wish you luck.'"

But he said Stipe struck him as a conniver just out for whatever he could get.

Stipe told the family he owned and operated a ranch in Montana, Lewis said. But in fact, his only connection with ranching was limited to once doing a stint as a ranch hand.

He said he had a boat when they were together, and when she left with Stipe, she took it with her along with a pickup he gave her when they divorced. He has a van and didn't need a second vehicle.

The Lake County Sheriff's Office has reportedly seized both the pickup and boat and processed them for evidence.

Lewis said he probably wouldn't be the first to hear from his ex-wife if she was trying to contact friends or family. But he said they have a mutual friend in Newberg that Louie would call in a second if she thought she needed help.

"He hasn't heard from her," Lewis said. "She went to Montana one time before she left for good. She broke down on the way over, and she called our friend.

"He said he heard from her again the second week in January. She told him she was coming back, and would be here in mid-February. That was the last time he heard from her."

---

Former co-workers at OMI, where Louie Lewis worked as an underwriting assistant, are anxiously awaiting word - any word.

Cheryl Simon had known Lewis at work for many years, and they worked closely together for seven years in the support unit.

"She was always a very warm, caring, loving person," Simon said. "She was easy to get along with. If you had a problem, she would be there to give you support."

Simon, now in the accounting department, last saw her friend the day before she set out. They talked and hugged goodbye.

"She was looking forward to a new adventure. She seemed really happy," Simon recalled.

"I liked working with her," said typist Kathy Brown. "Everyone liked her very much. We really miss her and are really worried. We all loved Louie. We didn't want to see her go."

Brown said her friend and 25-year co-worker always pitched in on fundraisers for United Way and the Fund for Hope and often talked about her grandchildren.

She brought Stipe around for a round of introductions before embarking on her big move. Brown's reaction was negative, but Lewis considered Stipe her knight in shining armor.

Wen Lewis called the office in late January to talk to former co-workers, Brown didn't like what she heard.

"It didn't sound like her," Brown said "It sounded like someone was standing over her."

She said, "We keep hoping she'll call again." But as time passes, that seems increasingly unlikely.

- News-Register reporter Starla Pointer contributed to this report.

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http://www.kgw.com/news-local/storie....8f7148f4.html

Newberg woman follows online love to MT, disappears

11:17 AM PST on Monday, March 6, 2006

By TERESA BELL, kgw.com Staff

NEWBERG, Ore. -- A Newberg woman is missing after her family said she went looking for love online.

Friends and family members told police 53-year-old Lucille "Louie" Lewis moved to Missoula, Montana last October to be with Dean Earl Stipe after meeting him online two months earlier.

But now, Lewis is missing and Stipe is a person of interest in her disappearance.

Stipe is currently in jail on a parole violation.

Lewis’ family told investigators that, during the short time they lived together in Montana, Stipe quickly went through $20,000 of Lucille’s money.

Cassie Jones said it’s been more than a month since the family has heard from her sister, Lucille, and she is very worried.

"The day she and Earl left, I kept thinking to myself “I'm never going to see her again,†Jones said.

Cassie said Lewis ended a 20-year marriage just before meeting Stipe online. Then, she gave up everything; left her home, family and job of 25 years, to be with Stipe in Montana.

"He was a good story teller and I could see if he was trying to get a free ride or sweep her off her feet, he probably could have done that,†said Lucille’s brother-in-law, Curt Jones.

Stipe told police he dropped Lewis off at the Missoula airport a month ago and hasn’t seen her since.

Meanwhile, as she tries to figure out what happened to her sister, Jones blames herself for setting the example of finding love online.

"I think she went looking for the fairytale figuring if my bigger sister found the man of her dreams, she could too. And I think instead of a fairytale, she found a nightmare,†Jones said.

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http://www.billingsgazette.net/artic...sing-woman.txt

Lake County man questioned in missing woman case

By The Associated Press

POLSON -- A Lake County man, jailed on a probation violation, is being questioned in the disappearance of an Oregon woman who had been living with him, but was last heard from in January.

Earl D. Stipe, 53, was arrested in mid-February after Lucille Lewis' sister reported her missing and said she had started a romance with Stipe, whom she met on the Internet. A probation officer, investigating the report, found 14 firearms at Stipe's house, which violated his probation on several felony bad-check charges.

There is no evidence of foul play in the disappearance of Lewis, 53, of Newburg, Ore., but her family said she wouldn't have gone this long without contacting them.

Kim Leibenguth, the Lake County sheriff's detective investigating Lewis' disappearance, said someone fraudulently cashed checks on Lewis' account and pawned some of her jewelry while she was living with Stipe in the St. Ignatius area. Stipe is jailed in Missoula on $25,000 bail on the probation violation. No criminal charges regarding the forged checks or pawned items have been filed.

Lewis' family told the McMinnville, Ore., News Register that Stipe and Lewis drove to Montana in Lewis' pickup truck in November 2005. Family and friends in Oregon said they had little contact with her after she left.

However, Lewis apparently contacted a friend in mid-January to say she was coming back to Oregon.

Leibenguth said Stipe told her he left Lewis at the Missoula International Airport on Jan. 30. No records have been found that showed she bought a ticket or boarded an airplane.

Family members said Lewis checked out Stipe's background somewhat, but they don't believe she knew he was a convicted felon.

Lewis' sister, Cassie Jones, said the family is losing hope.

"I was holding out hope for a long time. But the more I've learned about the case from the detectives, and from what I know about my sister -- if she was alive, she would have called by now, she would have called her grandkids -- I don't hold out much hope," Jones told the News Register.

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http://www.newsregister.com/news/sto...tory_no=206038

Sister seeks closure in missing woman case

Published: March 30, 2006

Cassie Jones: Above left, with sister, Louie Lewis.

By PAUL DAQUILANTE

Of the News-Register

Dean Earl Stipe, considered a person of interest in the disappearance late last year of Lucille "Louie" Lewis of Newberg, will appear Monday in Missoula (Montana) District Court for a hearing on a probation violation.

The court will rule on whether to revoke Stipe's probation, stemming from a 2004 check forging conviction, and sentence him to a prison term of up to five years.

His Montana criminal history includes check forging convictions from Fergus County (1985), Lake County (2000) and Missoula County (2004). All the sentences were suspended.

Lewis, 53, met Stipe, 53, on the Internet last October, after she and Ken Lewis of Newberg divorced following a 20-year marriage.

She was not aware the Montana man, who lived northwest of Missoula in the tiny, remote community of St. Ignatius, was a convicted felon.

The next month, she ended her 25-year underwriting career with Oregon Mutual Insurance in McMinnville. She moved out of the Newberg home she shared with son Steve Baldoni and his family, consisting of a girlfriend and two young boys she adored. She got into a pickup with Stipe and set off for a new life in rural Montana.

No one in her family has seen her, or heard from her, since the November day the two headed east together. Her whereabouts remain unknown.

"I would love to have closure," Lewis' sister, Cassie Jones of Hubbard, said. "I feel the rest of my family feels the same way.

"In that closure, if my sister has met with foul play, I want to see the person or persons responsible punished."

Jones said she repeatedly tried to contact her sister by cell phone, but was never able to get any response.

When she finally reached Stipe by phone, several months after her sister left for Montana, he claimed he dropped her off at Missoula International Airport on Jan. 31 and hadn't seen her since.

Jones filed a missing person's report with the Lake County Sheriff's Office, located on Montana's Flathead Indian Reservation. The office is based in Polson, which lies north of St. Ignatius.

The sheriff's office sought Stipe for questioning, and when a probation officer went to his residence, she saw 14 firearms in the home, the Missoulian newspaper of Missoula reported. Stipe is prohibited from possessing firearms because of his felony convictions.

Stipe originally was booked into the Lake County Jail on $25,000 bail, but has since been transferred to the Missoula County Jail and is in custody on the same bail amount.

Yamhill County Sheriff's Lt. Paul May, who knew Lewis and her ex-husband, said he is maintaining an information file on the case.

"I want to help anyway I can," May said. "The sheriff (Jack Crabtree) is concerned, too. He will lend whatever resources we can to the Montana authorities."

May said the case sends "chills up my spine," simply because no one has heard from Lewis for several months.

"This is very much out of character for her," May said. "For her to leave a great employer, her grandchildren, all of her friends and connections in Yamhill County is out of character."

May said that while cases like this can be difficult to solve, investigators are better equipped today than they were when he broke into the law enforcement profession to solve them.

"We have more advanced techniques," he said. "For example, we have the electronic means to communicate with various agencies. We can stay informed instantaneously. We have ways of checking clues and tracing leads electronically."

May said he has not worked a missing person case in a long time, but he knows they are challenging and intriguing.

"You have to poke around, knock on doors and obtain any evidence you can," he said. "I'm sure that's what the Montana people are doing. I'm sure they're doing everything they can."

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http://www.newsregister.com/news/sto...tory_no=206325

Son fears dad may be a killer

Published: April 6, 2006

By PAUL DAQUILANTE

Of the News-Register

Sean Stipe, son of a "person of interest" in the disappearance of a longtime Oregon Mutual Insurance employee he wooed over on the Internet and eventually lured to his remote Montana residence, calls Earl Dean Stipe a con man who knows how to pick a victim.

He feels there is a strong possibility his father killed Lucille "Louie" Lewis, who left her Newberg home and McMinnville job to make the move last fall.

"My personal opinion is, she tried to leave him, they had an argument and something happened," Stipe said during a phone interview Wednesday. "Did something happen purposely or by accident? I don't know.

"I think he's covering something up. I think he knows more than he's telling anyone."

The younger Stipe, long estranged from the man he refers to as his "biological father," said, "I've tried every way I can to keep him out of my life."

Stipe, a 34-year-old father himself, termed Earl Dean Stipe "capable of having something to do with the disappearance." In fact, he said, "I would not be surprised at all if he's responsible."

The elder Stipe is currently being held in jail on a probation violation only. He is now scheduled for adjudication on that charge at 9 a.m. Monday, April 17, in Missoula County District Court, following a series of postponements.

His probation stems from a 2004 forger conviction. The violation could net him up to five years in prison.

The son is speaking out because he fears the actually sentence will be far lighter, and because he and his mother, Linda, both want to strike a note of solidarity with the missing woman's Oregon family.

Earl Stipe's criminal history in Monday includes forgery convictions from Fergus County (1985), Lake County (2000) and Missoula County (2004). And each time, he got off with a suspended sentence, underscoring his son's point.

Lewis, 53, met Stipe, also 53, late last year on the Internet. She and Ken Lewis of Newberg had recently ended a 20-year marriage.

She was not aware the Montana man, who made his home in the tiny, remote community of St. Ignatius, was a convicted felon with little means. He told her he was a retired federal marshal who owned a ranch.

To be with Stipe, she ended a 25-year underwriting career with Oregon Mutual Insurance and left the home she shared with son Steve Baldoni, his girlfriend and the two young grandsons he gave her.

No one in her family has seen her or heard from her in recent months. Her whereabouts remains a mystery.

According to the family, police discovered Stipe had been pawning her jewelry and belongings. But he claims he last saw her when she left for the airport to catch a flight back to Oregon.

Lewis' sister, Cassie Jones of Hubbard, filed a missing person's report with the Lake County Sheriff's Office, located on Montana's Flathead Indian Reservation. The office is based in Polson, which lies north of St. Ignatius.

The sheriff's office sought Stipe for questioning. When a probation officer went to his residence, she saw 14 firearms in the home. Stipe is prohibited from possessing firearms because of his felony convictions.

He originally was booked into the Lake County Jail on $25,000 bail. He has since been transferred to the Missoula County Jail, where bail remains the same.

Sean Stipe, divorced with two children, lives in his mother's hometown of Kalispell, Mont.

He said his father has been married three times that he knows of. He said his mother, Linda, was the first.

"I have disowned him," Stipe said. "I don't speak to him. The last time I spoke to him was about 10 years ago, when he tried to contact my children. I have had no contact with him.

"My mom was 19 when they separated over his behavior. He was getting into trouble with the law, and my mom left him while he was in jail."

Stipe said his mother and father were married about three years. He said his father has one ex-wife living in Idaho and another living in Montana.

He said he has two half-brothers and one half-sister. The half-brothers, Stipe said, had maintained a relationship with their father and met Lewis.

"He has lived in different places, in Idaho and Oregon, but I was 14 or 15 years old when he moved back to Montana," Sean Stipe said. "I had never even met him until then.

"I had a short-term relationship with him. He took me hunting and fishing when I was in high school. But it only took a few years to learn I didn't want anything to do with this man."

When Montana media outlets started reporting that his father was a person of interest in Lewis' disappearance, his mother heard a television broadcast and contacted her son to tell him. She also contacted authorities.

"I assumed there was an ongoing investigation," he said. But as it turned out, he said, "My mother is the one who contacted the authorities first."

Stipe has since spoken with the Lake County Sheriff's Office, and has been told the agency doesn't have enough personnel to launch a full-scale search.

He said he read a News-Register story about her disappearance, in which Jones praised lead detective Kim Leibenguth for her diligent work in attempting to locate Lewis. But he questions that.

"This makes no sense to me," he said. "How can this woman just disappear, and everything be all right?

"I read in your newspaper that he (Earl Stipe) told her sister he dropped her off at the Missoula airport Jan. 31 and that was the last time he saw her. I don't believe that story."

Stipe said his mother is upset over Lewis' disappearance and the possibility that her ex-husband is involved. He said she recalls a legacy of violence during the short time they were married.

Stipe said his father tried to smother his mother with a pillow on more than one occasion. "She realizes this could have been her," he said of his mother.

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Missing Newberg woman had big dreams, hopes

Published: May 16, 2006

By PAUL DAQUILANTE

Of the News-Register

Big Sky Country held big dreams and hopes for Lucille "Louie" Lewis, a 53-year-old Newberg woman wooed over the Internet last fall by a man who lured her to a remote area of Montana to make her home with him.

Earl Dean Stipe, also 53, said he was a retired federal marshal who owned a ranch. But he turned out to be an ex-con with a violent past who was making his home in a trailer in the isolated town of St. Ignatius.

Recently divorced, she took his word for it, brushing off the skepticism of friends, relatives and co-workers from Oregon Mutual Insurance, where she had found rewarding employment for many years.

Did she discover her error too late? That's what members of her family - and even some of his - most fear.

According to his son, long estranged from him, he tried to smother his first wife more than once after she began to have misgivings about him. He thinks that could be the fate Lewis met.

No one in her family has seen her or heard from her in more than six months now, not even the grandchildren she doted on. Police have launched an investigation, but her whereabouts remains a mystery.

Stipe has been considered a person of interest in her disappearance from the outset. After all, she left all of her worldly possessions behind and he began pawning them in short order.

However, they have stopped short of calling him a suspect. The most they have been able to do is put him away for violating his probation on an earlier conviction.

Lewis' sister, Cassie Jones of Hubbard, helped trigger the investigation by filing a missing person's report with the Lake County Sheriff's Office in Polson. When officers went to Stipe's trailer to talk to him about the mysterious disappearance, they found 14 firearms.

That violated terms of his probation on the latest in a series of forgery convictions, earning him two years in the Montana State Prison in Deer Lodge. He was sent away last month to begin serving his time.

Louie and Ken Lewis had recently ended a 20-year marriage on amicable terms when she encountered Stipe on the internet.

Like everyone else in her Oregon life, her ex-husband harbored deep misgivings. But she felt she had found true love - to the point where she was willing to give up a 25-year underwriting career, leave the home she shared with son Steve Baldoni and his family, including two young grandsons, and set off with Stipe for a new life in the wilds of Montana.

Like Stipe's long-estranged son, Sean, Jones has no doubt at this point about what happened to her sister. Stipe killed her, she figures.

She made a trip to Montana to pick up her sister's belongings, meet the lead Lake County Sheriff's Office detective and visit the area where her sister spent the last few months of her life. While there, she also talked with the younger Stipe, who said he's spent his life living down that of his biological father.

"My sister went there to be with a man she thought she loved," Jones said. "She obviously loved him. She had such big hopes and dreams. When I got there, I looked around, and the area is just beautiful.

"She could have been real happy there," Jones said. "She always liked the country and animals. She was looking for a dream, and she would have had it all there. She had always wanted something like that."

Jones said it was heart-wrenching to walk into the trailer where Lewis had made her home with Stipe and see her possessions. It gave her an eerie feeling.

"Usually, when a woman has lived in a home, you see all the womanly touches," she said. "They had all been wiped away. You could not even tell a woman had ever lived there."

Jones had spoken with Detective Kim Leibenguth by phone, but had not made her acquaintance in person. In Montana, she got to spend most of a day with her.

She said the detective has a tough, no-nonsense way about her. She came away believing her sister's case was in good hands. "She brings a humanness to her job," said. "I value who she is and what she is doing. I believe she is committed to finding out what happened to my sister."

She said the detective told her Stipe's two-year prison sentence would give her additional time to work the case.

Jones said she had hoped to meet with Sean Stipe while in Montana, but had to settle for talking to him on the phone. After collecting her sister's belongings, she said, she felt emotionally drained and just wanted to get home.

But she said Stipe's first wife, Sean's mother, had recently taken the detective on a tour of Stipe's rural haunts. She said that part of the family feels empathy and wants to help.

Jones said she plans to make another trip to Montana. In the meantime, she is keeping in touch with Leibenguth on a weekly basis.

"I keep praying they will find her," she said.

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http://www.charleyproject.org/cases/l/lewis_lucille.html

Lucille Lewis

Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance

Missing Since: December 2005 from St. Ignatius, Montana

Classification: Missing

Date Of Birth: N/A

Age: 53

Height: N/A

Weight: N/A

Hair Color: Brownish Red

Eye Color: N/A

Race: White

Gender: Female

Details of Disappearance

Lewis met Stipe, on the Internet last October 2005, after her divorced following a 20-year marriage. She was not aware the Montana man, who lived northwest of Missoula in the tiny, remote community of St. Ignatius, was a convicted felon. The next month, she ended her 25-year underwriting career with Oregon Mutual Insurance in McMinnville. She moved out of the Newberg home she shared with her son and his family. She got into a pickup with Stipe and set off for a new life in rural Montana. When her sister finally reached Stipe by phone, several months after her sister left for Montana, he claimed he dropped her off at Missoula International Airport on Jan. 31 and hadn't seen her since.

No one has heard from Lewis for several months. "This is very much out of character for her," May said. "For her to leave a great employer, her grandchildren, all of her friends and connections in Yamhill County is out of character."

Dean Earl Stipe, considered a person of interest in the disappearance.

Investigating Agency

If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:

Lake County Sheriff's Office

(406)883-7301

Source Information

News Register

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Missing woman case still a mystery

Published: February 15, 2007

By PAUL DAQUILANTE

Of the News-Register

Cassie Jones received word about two weeks ago from Montana's Lake County Sheriff's Office in Polson that human remains had been discovered in the Mission Mountains southeast of St. Ignatius.

Her sister, longtime Oregon Mutual Insurance employee Lucille "Louie" Lewis of Newberg, has been missing for a year. Lewis was wooed over the Internet by violent ex-convict Earl Dean Stipe, who lured her to the remote St. Ignatius area to make a home with him.

Jones' hopes of resolution were quickly dashed, however, when Lake County detective Kim Leibenguth informed her that examiners had determined the body was male.

The body has since been identified as Rob Jensen, a ranch hand who went missing on Oct. 17, 2005. His death is being treated as a homicide.

"I'm very happy for the family who has closure," said Jones, who lives in Hubbard. "I keep hoping that maybe next time it will be us. I want to see this end. It's hard for me to accept that Louie has been missing for almost a year now."

Jones added, "I know there are people out there who have loved ones that have been missing much longer. Still, when it is personal, all one thinks about is that person, how much you miss her and the hole left in your life and heart."

Lewis, 53, met Stipe, also 53, late in 2005 on the Internet. She made the connection having just had her 20-year marriage to Ken Lewis of Newberg dissolve.

She was not aware Stipe was a convicted felon. He told her he had bought a Montana ranch upon retirement from the U.S. Marshal's Office, none of which had any foundation.

To be with Stipe, she ended a 25-year underwriting career with Oregon Mutual Insurance and left the Newberg home she shared with son Steve Baldoni, his girlfriend and two young grandsons.

According to the family, police discovered Stipe had begun pawning her jewelry and belongings immediately after her disappearance. He claims he last saw her when she left the Missoula airport to catch a flight back to Oregon, which the family finds improbable in the extreme.

Jones filed a missing person's report with the Lake County Sheriff's Office, located on Montana's Flathead Indian Reservation, on Feb. 10, 2006.

That prompted authorities to pay Stipe a visit. They discovered 14 firearms in the residence, all illegal given his felony record.

He is currently incarcerated in the Montana State Prison in Deer Lodge. He is scheduled for release on March 14, 2008.

Stipe was identified as a person of interest in Lewis' disappearance at the outset.

His long-estranged son, Sean, has no doubt about what happened to Lewis: His father murdered her because she realized she had made a mistake and planned to return to Oregon.

Sean Stipe lives in Kalispell, Mont., a hometown he shares with his mother, Linda Woolsey.

Woolsey and Earl Stipe were married for several unpleasant years in the 1970s, during which time he allegedly threatened to suffocate her.

"This man has gotten away with way too much in life," she said.

Woolsey said she and her son are "90 percent" certain Stipe was responsible for harming Lewis. She said she has set out more than once in search of her remains, knowing where he might have disposed of her body.

"All he did with his spare time were recreational sports like fishing and hunting," Woolsey said. "He went out shooting a lot. He liked to take his guns and go target practicing. He did that a lot in the back country. He was so familiar with Western Montana's backroads. I've looked in the areas he frequented, areas where I think he would feel comfortable going, areas that are more accessible in the wintertime."

But she fears there is a chance Lewis' remains never will be found, because the area is so rugged, remote and untraveled.

"I continue to hope she will be found," Jones said. "I was just telling my husband, 'Do you realize a whole year has gone by?' Maybe this will be the year."

Jones has made one trip to Montana since her sister disappeared, to pick up belongings Stipe hadn't already disposed.

She wants to make another trip this summer and take her husband, Curt. She would like him to see the area and meet Leibenguth, who has been working the case from the outset.

"She has become a friend, someone I trust," Jones said of the detective. "If we don't talk by phone, we e-mail each other once or twice a week."

News-Register.com

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Remains found near St. Ignatius ID'd

By The Associated Press

POLSON - Human remains discovered earlier this week near St. Ignatius have been identified as a ranch hand who disappeared in the fall of 2005, Lake County Sheriff Lucky Larson said Friday.

The remains of Rob Jensen, 43, were found by a hiker on Tuesday.

The state crime lab in Missoula used dental records to confirm the identity. Larson said the crime lab is still trying to determine the cause of death.

"The first concern was the identification of the remains," Larson said. "The state crime lab has not disclosed to us yet the cause of death." Jensen was left in charge of the ranch where he worked while the owners were out of town in October 2005. When they returned, the animals had not been fed and the owners' pickup truck was missing.

The truck was found two months later on a logging road above Mission Dam east of St. Ignatius, with the keys still in the ignition. Jensen's remains were found near Mission Dam, in the area where the truck was found.

Jensen was separated from his wife, but had kept in contact with her and their son until the time of his disappearance.

Jensen's was one of three missing-person cases from the past two years the sheriff's office has been investigating.

Ellen Sloan of Polson was reported missing in April 2005, Lucille Lewis of Newburg, Ore., was reported missing in January 2006.

Sloan was reported missing after failing to attend her son's graduation. She had been charged in a tax evasion case while a man who had been living at her house, Bill Gholson, was charged with a sex crime. He failed to show for a court hearing in May and was arrested in Tennessee in November. He has since pleaded guilty to the sex crime. Officials have called him a "person of interest" in her disappearance.

Lewis, of Newburg, Ore., was reported missing in January 2006, after moving to Montana with a man she met on the Internet.

Earl Sipe was questioned in Lewis' disappearance, but investigators found no evidence of foul play.

BillingsGazette.com :: Remains found near St. Ignatius ID'd

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Pictured with Dean Earl Stipe, the last person to see her:

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http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0603/21/ng.01.html

NANCY GRACE

Aired March 21, 2006

And also tonight, an Oregon woman looks for romance in all the wrong places, including the Internet. The new online boyfriend turns out to be a convicted felon and now she has gone missing.

Good evening, everybody, I`m Nancy Grace. I want to thank you for being with us tonight. Tonight, breaking news in the case of an Oregon woman who seemingly finds love online. Tonight, she has vanished.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, you hear about all these scary Internet stories. And you always think, "Well, it`s not going to happen to somebody I know."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But it may have happened to Ken Lewis` ex-wife. Lucille Lewis, a woman everyone calls Louie, vanished just months after moving to Montana to be with a man she met on the Internet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She left her job for 25 years, which was kind of unreal.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Lewis says he and Louie entered their 20-year marriage amicably. They were still friends. But when Louie introduced him to her new online boyfriends, red flags went up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRACE: Red flags, I guess so. Straight out to "Lake County Leader" editor Ethan Smith. What`s the last time anyone heard from Lucille Lewis?

ETHAN SMITH, EDITOR, "LAKE COUNTY LEADER": Well, Nancy, the last time was probably in late January. The person who`s considered a suspect, her online boyfriend -- actually, I should probably use the phrase "person of interest."

GRACE: Yes, we should. He`s not an official suspect. Go ahead.

SMITH: Correct. He claims to have dropped her off at the airport sometime in the first couple days in February. So he is supposedly the last person to see her, although she did have contact with family members in late January. And following a few days without any contact, they became very concerned.

GRACE: Steph Watts, one of our own producers, has been investigated this case. Steph, give me the background.

STEPH WATTS, NANCY GRACE PRODUCER: Well, Nancy, what happened is Lucille -- Louie, they called her, met Stipe online. There`s a couple different Internet sites here, so we don`t really want to name the site that she met him on, because it`s really just a tool for people...

GRACE: Cut the chase, Steph. Go ahead. What happened?

WATTS: Well, she fell in love, packed up her stuff, moved down in with Stipe. And the family has not heard from her since January 31st of this year.

GRACE: Steph, true-false, did she use her hard-earned savings to buy the man a trailer?

WATTS: That`s true, Nancy.

GRACE: Oh, good lord in Heaven.

WATTS: You`ve always got the facts right.

GRACE: All right, she bought the guy a trailer. When was the last time they heard from her?

WATTS: January 31st. According to a co-worker, she was planning on coming back, selling her house, and relocating permanently in with Stipe. There`s a picture of him now on the Internet. Nancy, imagine hooking up with that guy online.

GRACE: Thanks, Steph. Thanks for all your confidence in me.

Now, I know we don`t know what site they met on, but it`s not the site`s fault. I know she was on eHarmony. I know she was on Date.com. eHarmony has been very cooperative with us. She had a profile there. Is there any way that these women can know the guy they`re talking to has a felony record?

WATTS: No, Nancy. It`s impossible when someone lies about their information online. And I do want to make it clear: eHarmony, I`m reading the statement from them that they just sent us -- eHarmony reached out and talked to detectives. They`re cooperating fully. They`ve provided information, and they volunteered all this information without a subpoena.

He did not have a profile on eHarmony; she did have a profile on eHarmony.

GRACE: Let`s go for Lucille`s sister, Cassie Jones. Cassie, what do you make of her disappearance? This isn`t like her at all.

CASSIE JONES, SISTER OF LUCILLE "LOUIE" LEWIS: No, no, it isn`t. I`m very concerned. Usually, she would call home, call a family member. We stayed in contact all the time.

She always stayed in contact with a friend or a family member. And to have gone this long without contacting anyone, I fear that something has happened to her.

GRACE: The tip-line, 406-883-7301. Help us find out what happened to Lucille.

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http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/mt/pressreleases/20070608143952.html

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Friday, June 08, 2007

EARL DEAN STIPE PLEADS GUILTY IN U.S. FEDERAL COURT

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Bill Mercer, United States Attorney for the District of Montana, announced today that during a federal court session in Missoula on June 8, 2007, before U.S. District Judge Sam E. Haddon, EARL DEAN STIPE, a 55-year-old resident of Ronan, pled guilty to being a felon-in-possession of firearms. Sentencing is set for November 2, 2007. He is currently detained.

In an Offer of Proof filed by the United States, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:

On September 20, 2004, STIPE was convicted of issuing a bad check (common scheme) in the Montana Twentieth Judicial District Court in Lake County.

On February 14, 2006, representatives of the Lake County Sheriff's Office participated in a probation search of STIPE'S residence in St. Ignatius. The officers seized thirteen firearms during the search.

Two witnesses would have testified that they had observed STIPE in possession of firearms on several occasions.

STIPE faces possible penalties of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and 3 years supervised release.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Racicot prosecuted the case for the United States.

The investigation was a cooperative effort between the Lake County Sheriff's Office, Montana Probation and Parole, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

# # # #

A copy of the Offer of Proof can be obtained by contacting Sally Frank at (406) 247-4638.

United States Attorney's Office for the District of Montana

P.O. Box 1478

Billings, MT 59103

CONTACT

Jessica T. Fehr

Assistant U.S. Attorney

(406) 247-4637

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http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/mt/pressreleases/20071102150039.html

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Friday, November 02, 2007

EARL DEAN STIPE SENTENCED IN U.S. DISTRICT COURT

Bill Mercer, United States Attorney for the District of Montana, announced today that during a federal court session in Missoula, on November 2, 2007, before Chief U.S. District Judge Donald W. Molloy, EARL DEAN STIPE, a 55-year-old resident of Ronan, appeared for sentencing. STIPE was sentenced to a term of:

Prison: 18 months

Special Assessment: $100

Supervised Release: 3 years

STIPE was sentenced in connection with his guilty plea to being a felon-in-possession of firearms.

In an Offer of Proof filed by the United States, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:

On September 20, 2004, STIPE was convicted of issuing a bad check (common scheme) in the Montana Twentieth Judicial District Court in Lake County.

On February 14, 2006, representatives of the Lake County Sheriff's Office participated in a probation search of STIPE'S residence in St. Ignatius. The officers seized thirteen firearms during the search.

Two witnesses would have testified that they had observed STIPE in possession of firearms on several occasions.

Because there is no parole in the federal system, the "truth in sentencing" guidelines mandate that STIPE will likely serve all of the time imposed by the court. In the federal system, STIPE does have the opportunity to earn a sentence reduction for "good behavior." However, this reduction will not exceed 15% of the overall sentence.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Racicot prosecuted the case for the United States.

The investigation was a cooperative effort between the Lake County Sheriff's Office, Montana Probation and Parole, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

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Lucille has now been missing for two years.  Our thoughts and prayers are with her family.

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https://app.doj.mt.gov/enforcement/missingpersons/searchdetail.aspx?RecordKey=2992

Missing Person Details

Name: LEWIS, LUCILLE HELLEN

Aliases: LEWIS, LOUIE

Gender: FEMALE

Date of Birth: 09/25/1952

Race: WHITE

Hair Color: BROWN

Eye Color: BLUE

Height: 5' 2''

Weight: 150 LBS.

Incident Information

Date of Last Contact: 01/30/2006

Investigating Agency: LAKE COUNTY SHERIFF, (406) 883-7301

If you have information about this individual, contact your local law enforcement agency or the Montana Missing Persons Clearinghouse, (406) 444-1526.

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