Lyle Stevik committed suicide in September 2001, but his real identity was never discovered until now. The name was an alias that the young man was using when he killed himself in a Washington state hotel on September 16, 2001. His body was discovered after Grays Harbor County authorities responded to a call at the Lake Quinault Inn in Amanda Park, Washington. Authorities were never able to identify who he was, and the cold case has haunted people across the country and world ever since. Now his family has been found.
Here is what we know about Lyle Stevik so far. This is a developing story.
1. Stevik Was from California and His Family, Who Believed He Was Still Alive, Does Not Want His Name Released Yet
The DNA Doe Project’s DNA analysis allowed investigators to find possible family members who were related to Stevik. They determined that Stevik was from California, and the family provided fingerprints to the Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office, according to a press release. Those fingerprints allowed Stevik to be identified. He was 25 years old.
At this time, Lyle Stevik’s real name will not be released. His family asked law enforcement not to release his real name or their names at this time, requesting privacy. The Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office said in a press release: “As a matter of practice, the Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office does not provide the names of individuals who have committed suicide. And the family of Lyle has also requested that his name not be released.”
Here is the text of the full press release from the Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office:
In September of 2001, the Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office started an investigation into the identity of a man who committed suicide in Amanda Park, Washington. The man had checked into a motel using the fictitious name of Lyle Stevik. Investigators spent countless hours over the years attempting to identify the deceased man.
Earlier this year, the Sheriff’s Office and the Grays Harbor County Coroner’s Office were contacted by Margaret Press and Colleen Fitzpatrick, co-founders of the non-profit DNA Doe Project. This group offered to fund the analysis of “Lyle’s” DNA with the hopes of identifying possible family members. The coroner’s office provide a DNA sample to this group. Through their organization, about 20 volunteers worked hundreds of hours on “Lyle’s” identification since obtaining his DNA results on March 22.
Aside from the hard-working volunteers, the group’s organizers wanted to express their heartfelt appreciation to all the many donors who contributed to the cost of the tests. This was the group’s first Doe Fund Me case and was funded in less than 24 hours with contributions from around the world. The group also wanted to thank all 900,000 plus people who have contributed their DNA results to the GEDmatch database. Without them this identification could never have been made.
In speaking with Margaret Press, she stated that “cases like these are heart-breaking. During those hundreds of hours there wasn’t one where we didn’t all think of the family he left behind. They are what kept us going”.
Through the work of the DNA Doe Project, the group was able to come up with a possible match of a man from California. Associated with this possible match were names of relatives. Investigators with the Sheriff’s Office were able to contact these possible family members and eventually able to positively identify “Lyle” through fingerprints provided by the family. The family believed that “Lyle” was still alive, just did not want to associate with family. Our victim was 25 years of age at the time of his death.
As a matter of practice, the Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office does not provide the names of individuals who have committed suicide. And the family of “Lyle” has also requested that his name not be released.
We are thankful for all involved who helped finally solve this 16 ½ year mystery.
According Redditor -Urbex-, who oversees the Lyle Stevik subreddit, and others familiar with the case, the DNA Doe Project may have advised law enforcement to keep the family’s name private, after the backlash after Marcia King’s identity was released.
2. He Left Two Notes and Money for His Motel Room in 2001
He checked into the hotel under the name of Lyle Stevik in 2001 and listed his address as being at a Best Western in Meridian, Idaho. His registration slip was written differently than the note with the word suicide, which was in all capital letters.
However, he didn’t have an ID in the hotel room and staff didn’t recognize him. He had no identifying luggage with him, only toiletries including a toothbrush and toothpaste, a pen, and some change. A crumpled piece of paper read “suicide” and a folded note with the words “for the room” held $160. Crime scene photos showed a belt tied around his neck. He had hung himself by a belt that was tied to the inside of a closet. The closet was lined with pillows, authorities said, and he had closed the blinds to his room. On the nightstand, a Gideon Bible had a bookmark between pages 1050 and 1051, which includes the verse John 12:33, “This he said, signifying what death he should die.”
He checked into the hotel on Friday, September 14, 2001, and his body was found on Monday, September 17.
3. Stevik Chatted with a Maid and Was Seen Pacing Up & Down the Highway Before His Suicide
Prior to his suicide, Stevik was seen pacing up and down a highway and sitting on the porch in front of his room. He requested towels at the motel, but later said he did not need his room cleaned. The day before, he let the hotel maid clean his room and they chatted a bit.
Stevik was likely an alias referencing You Must Remember This, a novel by Joyce Carol Oates. The character Lyle Stevick hangs a rope from the rafters and considers suicide. The novel has many suicide attempts.
4. No Missing Persons Reports or DNA Fingerprints Matched Stevik When Initially Investigated
No one was ever able to find a missing persons report that sounded similar to Stevik. And his fingerprints did not match in any database. He had black hair, hazel eyes, was 20 to 35 years old, a small appendix surgery scar, four missing teeth, and a nose that was possibly once broken. He was 6’2″ and when he died, weighed only 140 pounds. The coroner told Mel Magazine that the four teeth were probably removed to make room for expensive braces. Besides that, his teeth were in excellent condition.
Former police detective Lane Youmans, who investigated Stevik’s death, wrote that he always believed Lyle was from a middle-upper income family. “There were no signs he was involved in manual labor, no injuries, articulate, clean, took care of his appearance,” he wrote. “… I think he wanted to disappear. He went as far from home that he could.”
Youmans wrote that he had always been successful in identifying missing persons until Lyle.
5. DNA Matches Found Potential Family Members in New Mexico, Colorado, Montana, and Utah, But Stevik Was from California
Volunteer investigators from the DNA Doe Project, using Stevik’s DNA, were able to find potential family members in northern New Mexico, Santa Fe New Mexican reported. Margaret Press, co-founder of the DNA Doe Project, said: “We’re pretty confident that some of his ancestors, two or three generations back, were located in northern New Mexico.”
According to the DNA Doe Project, counties that had the most matched for people possibly distantly related to him included Rio Arriba County in New Mexico, Taos County, Las Animas County in Colorado, Huerfano County, Pueblo County, San Juan County in Utah, Silver Bow County in Montana, and Mesa County in Colorado.
Although Stevik was ultimately found to be from California, the DNA did help locate his family, and the fingerprints they provided allowed for an exact match to be determined.
Previous DNA examinations showed he was at least a quarter Native American and one-quarter Hispanic or Spanish.