Details of Disappearance
Lewis moved from from Newberg, Oregon to St. Ignatius, Montana in November 2005. She relocated to be with her boyfriend, Earl Dean Stipe.
A photograph of Stipe is posted with this case summary. Lewis had met him on the internet in October 2005, shortly after the dissolution of her twenty-year marriage, and was apparently unaware that he was a convicted felon.
None of Lewis's friends or family in Oregon heard from her after she moved to Montana, although she had been close to her family and was on friendly terms with her ex-husband. Her sister tried repeatedly to reach her by cellular phone, but to no result.
In February 2006, Lewis's sister contacted Stipe and asked about Lewis. Stipe stated Lewis had wanted to return to Oregon and he last saw her when he dropped her off at the Missoula International Airport in Missoula, Montana on January 31.
As Lewis had never arrived in Oregon, her sister became concerned and filed a missing persons report with Montana police. When investigators went to Stipe's home to question him about Lewis's disappearance found over a dozen firearms inside his residence.
Stipe, as a convicted felon on probation, is not legally allowed to own any guns, so he was arrested. In November 2007, he was sentenced to 18 months in prison for being a felon in possession of firearms.
Subsequent investigation revealed that Stipe had forged Lewis's name on checks and had pawned some of her jewelry and other belongings. He had told Lewis he was a retired federal marshal who owned a ranch; in fact, he had never been a marshal and lived in a trailer with his adult son and his son's girlfriend and two children.
Although Stipe's felony conviction was for forgery and not for any violent offense, his son described him as was violent and abusive.
Although the circumstances surrounding Lewis's disappearance are unclear, Stipe is considered a person of interest in her case. Prior to moving to Montana she was employed as an underwriter at the Oregon Mutual Insurance company for over 25 years. Her disappearance remains unsolved.