Stephen M. Lott, 49, who detectives said was a person of interest in the investigation into his wife’s disappearance 14 years ago, was charged with her killing Thursday.
Christine Lott, a 34-year-old mother of three from Priest River, was last seen at Mitchell’s IGA in Priest River on the morning of March 25, 2004. Her husband told deputies she had asked to be dropped off at the store. She was later seen making a phone call and climbing into a red 1990s Ford pickup truck with Washington plates. Detectives said the couple, who were married for nine years, had argued earlier that day.
By that August, Stephen Lott had left the area for Arizona, and police publicly announced that they had exhausted the tips in the search for Christine Lott.
According to a Bonner County Sheriff’s Office news release, Christine Lott’s case was categorized as a suspicious disappearance and later upgraded to a suspicious death, and Stephen Lott, who waited two days to report her missing, was named the primary person of interest years before his arrest.
Christine Lott’s body was found in February 2016 by a shed hunter in the Kootenai County woods along a forest service road. After her body was identified, the sheriff’s offices in Bonner and Kootenai counties began a joint investigation in which Stephen Lott was still considered the primary person of interest.
Last month, detectives discovered a letter Stephen Lott wrote to a family member contradicting information he had provided to detectives during the investigation. In the letter, he indicated that his wife’s death happened in Bonner County and that she may have killed herself, according to the release.
After detectives acquired the letter, they filed a first-degree murder arrest warrant and set Stephen Lott’s bond at $1 million. Later, a grand jury found probable cause to charge him with first-degree murder and failure to notify the coroner of a death, both felonies.
Stephen Lott, who was arrested in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, last month, was charged Thursday during his first court appearance in Bonner County.
Christine Lott’s mother, Lucille Kucera, said that in the days leading up the disappearance, her daughter would call daily to talk about her garden and the flowers she was growing. She also loved dogs.
Kucera said her daughter, who was described as under 5-foot-4 and 105 pounds with blue eyes in missing-person reports, was born the smallest of her siblings. The aspect of her daughter’s life that’s clearest in her memory, Kucera said, was the love she had for her kids.
“Those boys were her life,” she said.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.