Disappearance of Amy Wroe Bechtel
Amy Joy Wroe Bechtel (August 4, 1972 – disappeared July 24, 1997; declared legally dead 2004) is an American woman who disappeared while jogging in the Wind River Mountains approximately 15 miles (24 km) south of Lander, Wyoming. Despite extensive investigative work and media portrayals, her case remains unsolved as of 2019[update]. She was declared dead in absentia by her husband, rock climber Steve Bechtel, in 2004.
Amy Wroe Bechtel
Portrait of Bechtel
Amy Joy Wroe
August 4, 1972
|Disappeared||July 24, 1997 (aged 24)|
Lander, Wyoming, U.S.
|Status||Missing for 22 years, 4 months and 13 days|
|Alma mater||University of Wyoming|
|Known for||Missing person|
|Height||5 ft 6 in (168 cm)|
Steve Bechtel (m. 1996)
|Parent(s)||Duane and JoAnne Wroe|
Bechtel was born Amy Joy Wroe in Santa Barbara, California in 1972. She graduated from the University of Wyoming, where she met her husband, Steve Bechtel. In college, Bechtel was a competitive long distance runner, and hoped to try out for the 2000 Summer Olympics.
On the morning of July 24, 1997, Bechtel told her husband, Steve, she was planning on running several errands in town after teaching a children's weight lifting class at the Wind River Fitness Center. She stopped at Camera Connection, a photo store near her home in Lander, around 2:30pm after teaching her class. Following her time at the photo store, she stopped by Gallery 331, where she spoke to the proprietor, Greg Wagner. Wagner noted that Bechtel seemed hurried, and repeatedly glanced at her watch during their conversation. Wagner's was the last confirmed sighting of Bechtel.
After leaving the photo shop, it is believed by authorities that Bechtel drove to the Shoshone National Forest to practice the course of an upcoming 10K run she was enrolled to compete in. According to an eyewitness driving on Loop Road through the forest that afternoon, a woman resembling Bechtel was seen running along the road wearing black shorts similar to those she had worn earlier that day.
At 4:30pm, Steve returned home after having spent the day with a friend and found his wife absent. At 10:30pm, he called police to report his wife missing. At 1:00am on the morning of July 25, Bechtel's car, a white Toyota Tercel, was discovered parked on a turnout at Burnt Gulch in Lander.
By 3:00am on July 25, 1997, an extensive search for Bechtel was underway from law enforcement, as well as Steve and the couple's friends and family. By July 27, police were receiving roughly 1,000 calls per day with tips and potential leads in Bechtel's disappearance; additionally, various lakes and mines were searched with no results.
Investigators initially believed Bechtel to have fallen victim to the elements or potentially been attacked by a bear or mountain lion; however, they later suspected Steve after uncovering a series of his journals describing violence towards women, and specifically, his wife. Detectives interrogated Steve on August 1, 1997, falsely claiming to have evidence proving he had murdered his wife; in response, Steve terminated the interview. He would later claim the journals had comprised song lyrics he had written for his band, and that they were unrelated to Bechtel or her disappearance. In 1998, local police stated that Bechtel was not a central suspect in the case, but that they had wanted to clear him of suspicion in order to follow other leads, which they were unable to do after his lack of cooperation. Steve provided an alibi for the time of Bechtel's disappearance, which was corroborated by friends who agreed they had spent the afternoon with him rock climbing. However, he refused to submit to a polygraph test. Additionally, a woman driving through the area from where Bechtel disappeared claimed to have seen a truck matching Steve's in the area.
In late August 1997, the FBI requested satellite photos from NASA of the area on the day of Bechtel's disappearance, but the satellite images provided no information. In January 1998, satellite images taken by the Russian space station Mir were also obtained by the FBI, but they also revealed nothing of note.
In June 2003, a Timex Iron Man digital watch was discovered by a doctor hiking near the Popo Agie River and was turned in to police. It was noted to be similar to a watch Bechtel had owned at the time of her disappearance; however, law enforcement was unable to determine whether or not the watch belonged to her.
In a 2007 interview with the Billings Gazette, Sheriff Sgt. Roger Rizor stated: "I believe it was a homicide, and I believe what happened to her happened on the day she disappeared. In my mind there is only one person that I want to talk to, only one person who has refused to talk to law enforcement, and that's her husband."
Dale Wayne Eaton, a convicted murderer on Wyoming's death row, has also been cited as a suspect in the case. According to Eaton's brother, he had been near the area where Bechtel disappeared at the time of her disappearance. However, Eaton has refused to discuss the case.
Bechtel's case received significant media attention. On February 3, 1998, Steve appeared on The Geraldo Rivera Show with Bechtel's sisters, who pleaded with him to provide information regarding her disappearance. Steve denied any involvement in his wife's disappearance during the program.
The case was profiled in both People magazine and Outside in 1998, as well as the television series Unsolved Mysteries. It was later profiled on the series Disappeared in 2013, and was also the subject of an extensive article featured in Runner's World in 2016.
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- "Amy Wroe Bechtel". Disappeared. January 7, 2013. Investigation Discovery.
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- Scott 2009, pp. 104–5.
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- "Possible Clue Found To Woman Missing 6 Years". The Denver Channel. June 24, 2003. Retrieved June 15, 2017.
- Tuttle, Greg (June 21, 2007). "Sheriff believes Amy Wroe Bechtel was victim of killer". Billings Gazette. Retrieved June 15, 2017.
- Over, Ernie (March 6, 2013). "Amy Wroe Bechtel disappearance takes new turn; Prime suspect on Wyoming's Death Row". County 10. Retrieved June 15, 2017.
- Scott 2009, p. 115.
- "Amy Wroe Bechtel case timeline". Casper Star Tribune. July 22, 2007. Retrieved June 15, 2017.
- Tresnowski, Alex (March 23, 1998). "Into Thin Air". People. 49 (11). Retrieved June 10, 2017.
- Di Salvatore, Bryan; McNamer, Deirdre (March 1, 1998). "Long Gone". Outside. Retrieved June 9, 2017.
- "Amy Wroe Bechtel". Unsolved.com. Retrieved June 15, 2017.