Thief mars memories of happy day

Life’s most precious moments include births, graduations and weddings. Each event is often marked with photographs, the only lasting images aside from memories.

Janis and Spike Otto are shown at their July 9 wedding in one of the few pictures remaining of the event.

For Janis and Spike Otto of Lake Stevens, photos of their July 9 wedding are few and far between. Someone stole 22 rolls of undeveloped film, the bulk of their wedding pictures, and they are desperate to get them back.

They have no snapshots of cutting the cake, tossing the bouquet, having the first dance or slipping the garter off the bride’s leg. All were lost when a car was broken into at the Centennial Trail in Lake Stevens.

Come on, thief, dash in and drop the film at any Buzz Inn Restaurant. Janis Otto works at Buzz Inn at Smokey Point. There will be no questions asked. If someone finds the negatives in a bag in a ditch, the couple is offering a reward.

I understand their loss.

Though we have beautiful professional pictures from my daughter’s June 10 wedding, someone took home four of the nine little disposable cameras we spread around the reception tables. Now who would do that?

Maybe they got scooped in the trash by accident, but all four of them? We may never know what happened to those priceless pictures.

It hurts to lose precious moments. The Ottos have no pictures of Uncle Jim, 80, who traveled from California to see the nuptials. Janis Otto expects she’ll never see him again. Both of her parents are deceased. Among the stolen pictures are those of her grandmother enjoying the reception.

“I can’t cry about it anymore,” Janis Otto said. “My tears are all dried up.”

Between them, the Ottos have four children. The youngsters were on a walk along the Centennial Trail with their nanny, Sharon Jacobs, two days after the wedding. While they were gone, Jacobs’ locked car was ransacked and the film was removed from the trunk.

Jacobs’ husband, Mike, aims to be a professional photographer and took the wedding pictures. They planned to get prints the next week so the Ottos could relive their memories.

When she was informed about the loss, Janis Otto was shocked.

“Then it hits you,” she said. “Those are all my pictures, and I might not see them again. I couldn’t sleep or eat for a while. It’s not like somebody died, but it is.”

Imagine never seeing pictures of the first kiss or champagne toast.

Maybe the creep who stole the film tossed it in the back seat of a car and it’s still in a sack. He or she went through the glove box and stole a purse, $6, a debit card and a driver’s license. They car was locked and nothing was left in sight.

“Our nanny felt awful,” Janis Otto said. “It wasn’t her fault.”

The thief tried to use the debit card, to no avail, at several spots around the Lake Stevens area.

The Otto family searched ditches and store trash cans, wondering if the crook tossed or dumped the film. They put signs around their community, hoping the pictures would turn up.

The couple paid for their own ceremony, with the help of relatives who prepared food for 250 guests and made decorations.

It was all on a budget and the couple were delighted to have a friend photograph the event. Others took snapshots, so they have a few photographs, but none of key moments, such as the bridesmaids getting ready, the bride walking down the aisle or the couple cutting the cake.

“This is the only time I am going to get married,” Janis Otto said. “It was one of the happiest days of our lives.”

On their dining room table, a wilting bouquet from the ceremony should have been discarded days ago, but Janis Otto clings to the few tangible memories left from her once-in-a-lifetime day.

Columnist Kristi O’Harran: 425-339-3451 or

Janis and Spike Otto are shown at their July 9 wedding in one of the few pictures remaining of the event.

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