UPDATE: Find a Grave site says “Lyle Stevik” is Christian Emiliano Lacunza. His family had him cremated. I still do not believe it was a suicide.
UPDATE, MAY 10, 2018: A kazillion people emailed me about this, I swear. Apparently, “Lyle Stevik” has been identified; however, his family does not want his name released. And yes, I find that weird. He still has not been PUBLICLY identified. He will remain as an unidentified person on this blog until he is. Please do not email me anymore regarding this case.
Thank you to Mary for suggesting this puzzling case!
Lyle Stevik was found dead in room 5 of Lake Quinault Inn in Amanda Park, WA, in 2001 from what appeared to be a suicide. Lyle left no identification, and police were unable to find out his true identity. They were certain Lyle Stevik was not his real name. To this day, his identity remains unknown.
Three days after the devastation of September 11, 2001, a young man called Lyle Stevik checked into the Lake Quinault Inn in Amanda Park, Washington. He handwrote his name and address on the registration slip, which was standard for guests at the motel.
Lyle paid $43.87 in cash for his room, and the clerk gave him room #8. However, after spending 60 minutes in the room, he asked to be given another room. Room 8 was at the end of the motel and behind it was an RV park. Lyle claimed there was too much noise coming from the park. So, the clerk put him in room #5 which was smack-dab in the middle of the motel.
Lyle spent three nights in the room. The only maid at the motel, Maricela, cleaned his room on Saturday, September 15 and went back on Sunday to clean it again. However, this time, Lyle barely opened the door and turned down maid service. Maricela later told her daughter that she heard voices coming from Lyle’s room and was sure it was not the television.
On Monday, September 17th, Lyle should have checked out of his room by 11:30. When he had not, Maricela knocked on the door. No answer. So she opened the door with her key and walked into the room.
Maricella saw Lyle kneeling, his back facing her. She thought he was praying, but something did not feel right so she left the room to Gabe, the owner of the motel and adjacent store.
Gabe walked into the room and saw that Lyle was dead and apparently had hung himself with a belt attached to a metal coat rack.
On the nightstand, Lyle left eight $20 bills inside a note that read, “FOR THE ROOM,” to cover the cost of two extra nights in the room plus a tip.
Gabe called the police immediately. Detective Lane Youmans of the Grays County Sheriff’s Office arrived along with a paramedic.
Youmans took in the surroundings. The bedspread was off the bed and hanging over the only already-covered window. Clothes hangers were on the floor by the chair. Pillows were stuck between the clothes hanging area and the walls on both sides. Youmans’ theory was that Lyle put those there knowing he would thrash and flail in his final moments, or they were used as a sound barrier to prevent other guests from hearing his screams.
Youmans took a closer look at Lyle. His hair was combed back, and he appeared to be emaciated. Lyle was nearly 6’2″ and weighed only 140 pounds. He was wearing an extra-large gray Fruit of the Loom T-shirt, Levi 500 jeans size 36″ waist, 34″ length, and size 10 black Timberland boots. It was clear to Youmans that Lyle had lived a decent life judging by the clothes he was wearing.
The coat rack was only four feet off the ground which explained why Lyle was in the kneeling position. A washcloth was placed between Lyle’s neck and the belt.
In Lyle’s right front pocket, a pen was clipped to his light-blue washed jeans. In his right rear pocket were eight $1 bills. A nearby desk drawer contained a new Colgate toothpaste tube, an Oral-B toothbrush (still in its packet), and some loose change. On the nightstand shelf, a rosy red Gideons Bible — the Inn had placed a copy in every room — with a bookmark pressed between pages 1050 and 1051, where the first passage, John 12:33, read: “This he said, signifying what death he should die.” (Pepi, 2017)
The room’s trash can held an empty plastic Pepsi cup and a local newspaper. Next to the trash can was a crumpled up piece of paper with the word SUICIDE written in capital block letters.
There was no identification of any kind in the room – no driver’s license, passport, or bank card.
The autopsy showed two small abrasions on one hand. The victim was circumcised, had an appendectomy scar, and was approximately 25 years old. His teeth were in good condition, and all of his organs were healthy. Lyle had no identifying marks on his body. He was a nonsmoker. No alcohol or drugs were found in his system, which meant he was sober when he hung himself.
The victim had hazel eyes and black hair that had been recently trimmed. He had sparse stubble and a small mole on the left side of his chin. Lyle did have one noticeable feature – attached earlobes. The medical examiner could not determine his ethnicity, but he could have been Hispanic or Native American, or possibly Middle Eastern and Caucasian.
DNA and Lyle’s fingerprints were run through the system but produced no matches.
It was almost as if this man did not exist. He was labeled a John Doe and buried in a local cemetery. To this day, his identity remains a mystery and a curious challenge for amateur sleuths.
Main source: Pepi, Kirk. “The Strange Case Of The Man With No Name”. Mel Magazine 2017. Web. 23 Mar. 2017.
True Crime Diva’s Thoughts
This is the first article I have written on an unidentified person. I tend to stay away from those because there is usually little information. However, someone suggested this case to me, and there is plenty of info about it on the Web.
I have no idea who this man was, nor will I give any theories on his identity. However, I’m not convinced he killed himself.
If he checked into this small motel to kill himself, why didn’t he do it the first night he was there? Why wait days before doing it?
Why would Lyle’s identification be gone? If you’re going to kill yourself, why worry about people not learning who you are? You’re going to die, so who cares? I am sure this has happened in some cases, but I think their identities would probably be discovered soon after their deaths. Lyle’s identity was meant never to be found.
If you had just killed someone, taking away their identification also slows down the police in learning the victim’s identity.
I think the handwriting is different on the registration slip and the “SUICIDE” note found in Lyle’s room. The “S,” “I,” and “D” look different to me. I tend to write the same big as I do small.
Why would you write ONE word about your fate? Suicide victims typically leave nothing, let alone one word on a piece of paper. But when they leave behind a note, there is usually more about why they took their own lives. If Lyle did write it, maybe he was forced to do it.
I do think he wrote “FOR THE ROOM” and left the money. It appears to me that he would leave the money and key in the room before exiting the motel. I have done that instead of going through the checkout process, so I think this is possible.
Lyle was emaciated – 140 lbs at 6’2″. Some people think he had bulimia, noting the scrapes on the one hand and the toothpaste and toothbrush seen in crime scene photos. Bulimics often brush their teeth after they purge. However, he had not used them.
Why was the washcloth placed between his neck and the belt? If you’re going to kill yourself, why do that? I asked my hubby, and he said, “Maybe the belt buckle was hurting his neck.” Okay, so Lyle was worried more about that than the actual dying part? It doesn’t make sense that Lyle would take the time to do that if he was going to off himself. What was to come was a hell of a lot worse!
I also don’t believe he hung himself in this manner. He was 6’2″, so he easily could have saved himself by just standing up. Hanging would have been painful and torturous. The normal reaction would be to stand up. His body would go into survival mode, and I think it would be really hard not to save yourself. Not only that, but he could have used other methods to do the job for him that would have been less torturous, like stepping in front of a train or taking pills.
The cost of Lyle’s room was less than $50 a day. So why did he leave
$160 $120 (someone pointed out the error, of course.) for two nights on the desk to pay for his room? Not even with high motel tax would it be that much. Not only that, if you’re going to kill yourself, why would you care if the room is paid for?
Lyle’s hair was combed back and had been recently trimmed, according to a report. So you’re going to groom yourself before you take your own life? I don’t think so. It appears as if he might have taken a shower before his death. There were used towels in one of the crime scene pics.
The jeans Lyle was wearing at the time of death were way too big for someone as skinny as he was. My husband is 5’9″ and of average weight. He wears a 32. So, is it possible that the clothes found on Lyle did not belong to him? That whoever killed him disposed of Lyle’s actual garments and replaced them with different ones? I suppose one will say he lost a bunch of weight, but he could have been naturally thin. I know a kid who is tall and looks anorexic, but he suffers from some syndrome. Could be the same thing here.
I don’t get the point of covering the window with the bedspread. There were curtains on the window. You’re not going to worry or even think about covering a window that’s already covered if you’re going to kill yourself, would you? I don’t think so. I think someone in the room did not want anyone on the outside to see something, and I don’t think it was Lyle taking his own life.
No, I think this might be murder. Maricela told her daughter she heard voices coming from Lyle’s room on Sunday when she asked if he wanted maid service. She was pretty sure it wasn’t the television, and I think she’s right. She said “voices” plural, which tells me there was more than one person in the room with Lyle.
I wonder if Lyle was on the run from someone and the person or persons caught up with him and killed him.
If you go to Reddit or Websleuths, one of the theories is he could have been one of the terrorists of 9/11 who backed out of the plan to attack America, landed in Washington, and killed himself. I don’t think this at all. Just because this was days after 9/11 does not mean he was a terrorist.
I rarely go to either site because sometimes their thinking is way off. Or posters will compare a missing person to a person found dead, and they look nothing alike but say they see the similarities. It drives me nuts—too many amateur sleuths in one place.
I could easily spend more time on this and I probably did not cover every single thing in this case, but hey, you can always Google it. 🙂