Dr. Stephen Fletcher – Early Years
Born in Baltimore in 1924, Stephen Fletcher graduated from Johns Hopkins University with degrees in medicine and chemistry. An early prodigy, he completed his studies at age 23 and began his career at the USDA's research facility in Beltsville, Maryland. Fletcher's early work focused on animal biosciences and genomics; his colleagues remarked that his ambition was matched only by his genius. In 1950, he married Jennifer Zug; they had a daughter, Janie.
Dr. Stephen Fletcher – The Illness
Only two years into their happy marriage, Jenny Fletcher was struck down with a mysterious illness, with symptoms that resembled a coma-like state. Neither local doctors nor specialists at Johns Hopkins could revive her. Desperate to find a cure, Fletcher began to experiment with technologies used in his work, including early versions of gene splicing. He managed to revive her for a brief period, but she lapsed back into her comatose state. Convinced that his work on a cure had been sabotaged, Fletcher became increasingly enraged and violent, completely destroying one of his research labs. He then moved his work into a remote building on the USDA campus and cut off all contact.
The Zug family was poor and worked as farm hands on the Fletcher property. Their daughter, Jennifer, met Stephen Fletcher at a young age and they became friends, and later fell in love. Stephen's parents did not approve of their relationship, suggesting that a poor farm girl would destroy his future. In defiance of his family, Fletcher and Jenny eloped. Later, after giving birth to their daughter, Janie, Jenny became suddenly ill with an unknown malady. Her husband's desperate efforts to revive her eventually drove him to insanity.
Although no photographs of William Lottsford are known to exist, he remains the subject of intense rumor. Some believe that he was the son of Joseph Lottsford (pictured below), who worked with Stephen Fletcher at the USDA. Others speculate that William Lottsford worked as Fletcher's assistant, but this cannot be confirmed. In fact, searches of local records have found no proof that a William Lottsford ever existed, but the rumors persist.