Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Mary Kay Letourneau: The Romance That was a Crime

Marrying "Mr. Right Now"

Never at a loss for dates, she met Steve Letourneau and the two of them had an immediate, strong, physical attraction. He was a gregarious sort and they had fun together.  Michelle would recall, "You know, there's Mr. Right and Mr. Right Now.  He was definitely Mr. Right Now."

Steve was one of two children of Dick and Sharon Letourneau.  The other was his sister, Stacey, who was four years his junior.  As a small child, Steve had moved from the state of Washington to Anchorage, Alaska.  His father was transferred there by the food products company for which he worked in sales.

Shortly after the move, the Letourneaus divorced.  Steve was 13 and Stacey 9 at the time.  Both youngsters stayed with their father by their own choice.  Sharon lived nearby and was always an active mother.  However, Dad was always the main guiding force in the lives of the Letourneau kids.

In 1985, Mary Kay discovered she was pregnant.  Like her parents, she strongly opposed abortion and would not consider it as an option.  When she was in the early stages, before she had a chance to confide in her mother and father and was still fretting about whether to marry Steve or try to raise the baby as a single mother, she was in class and felt herself start to bleed.

She left the class.  The flow worsened and she went to the hospital.  She was having a miscarriage.  From the hospital, she called her mother who was then living in Washington, D. C.

Mary Schmitz talked to the doctors and told them not to do a dilation and curettage or D & C.  After all, Mary Kay could be pregnant with more than one embryo and that procedure could destroy a potentially healthy one.

It turned out that Mary Schmitz's speculation was true.  Mary Kay had been pregnant with twins and would still be pregnant after miscarrying one.

She consulted her parents about what to do.  They urged her to marry Steve.  Mary Kay did not believe she was in love with Steve.  Although she enjoyed his company, he did not seem especially mature in her eyes.  She also believed he was not as smart as she would have liked.  However, he was willing to marry the woman he had impregnated.

Despite her doubts, the couple wed. They also dropped out of college. A few months later, she gave birth to their first child, Steven, Jr.  The couple moved to Anchorage, Alaska, Steve's hometown, where he got a job as a baggage handler for Alaska Airlines.  Their marriage was troubled right from the start.  Financial problems were constant.  They often simply could not make ends meet and Mary Kay sometimes begged her parents for money. Steve did not take his marriage vows seriously.  He thrilled to extramarital affairs, often making his wife jealous and neglecting her emotional needs.

A year later, Steve was transferred to Seattle, and the family moved. Their second child, Mary Claire, was born.  Two more children followed.  Mary Kay cared for her family during the day and took courses at Seattle University during the evenings.  She wanted a degree so she could be a teacher.

Her greatest gift was her ability with children. She liked them and they liked her. She had patience with them. She loved being a mother and wanted to instruct other people's youngsters.  According to Gregg Olsen, she seemed to relish the experience of pregnancy itself, such as the maternity outfits and the comments about her big stomach.

In 1989, she graduated from Seattle University.  That fall she got a job teaching the second grade at the Shorewood Elementary School in Burien, a Seattle suburb.

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