The Mysterious Disappearance Of Amy Bechtel Explained

On July 24, 1997, Amy Joy Wroe Bechtel had a busy day planned, which included teaching a fitness class in the morning, running errands throughout the late morning and early afternoon, and completing the day with a run through Wyoming's Wind River Mountains.

Amy's husband, Steve, had a busy day as well, and left home at approximately 9:30 a.m. True Crimes Times Blog reports he was in and out of the house several times that day, but was home for the evening by 8:15 p.m., and was surprised that his wife had not returned. However, he was not terribly concerned, as he knew she had a lot of errands to run and it was not unusual for her to come home late.

As it grew later, and Amy neither returned nor called, Steve realized something was horribly wrong. True Crime Times Blog reports Amy often had long days, but she had never been out that late without any contact with her family or friends. The Bechtels' friends, Amy and Todd Skinner, agreed to drive around and look for Amy's car while Steve stayed home in case she happened to call. At approximately 1 a.m. on July 25, 1997, the Skinners found Amy's vehicle abandoned by the side of the road near the entrance to a hiking trail. However, no trace of Amy Bechtel was ever found.

Amid their investigation into Amy Bechtel's disappearance, authorities pieced together a timeline of her day, which included visiting a local shop called Gallery 331.

Amy Bechtel was last seen at approximately 2:30 p.m.

As reported by True Crime Times Blog, the store's owner, Greg Wagner, said Amy Bechtel (above) came in at around 2:30 p.m. on the day she went missing. Wagner said Bechtel looked at her watch several times and seemed to be in a hurry to leave.

The Charley Project reports authorities believe Bechtel left the store and proceeded to the Shoshone National Forest in the Wind River Mountains, where she planned to check out the route for an upcoming 10k run. As reported by True Crime Times Blog, Bechtel's white Toyota station wagon was found parked on Loop Road, where she could have easily accessed the route she planned to run. Authorities confirmed Bechtel's sunglasses, keys, and her to-do list were all left inside the vehicle. However, her wallet was missing. Authorities also confirmed there did not seem to be any signs of a struggle.

According to The Charley Project, nobody saw Bechtel running along the route. However, a footprint that resembled the size and brand of her shoes was found along the trail. Unfortunately, the print was compromised before authorities could confirm it was a positive match.

As is often the case when someone goes missing, authorities considered Amy Bechtel's husband an initial person of interest. At the time of Amy's disappearance, the couple had been married for just over one year and had recently purchased a home. However, True Crime Times Blog reports their relationship was far from perfect.

Amy Bechtel's husband was immediately identified as a person of interest

As reported by Unsolved Mysteries, authorities searched the area where Amy Bechtel went missing for eight days. However, no sign of the missing woman was ever found. Then-Fremont County Sheriff Dave King expressed his frustration with the lack of clues and began suggesting Steve Bechtel may have been involved in his wife's disappearance. In an attempt to determine whether Steve knew anything about Amy's whereabouts, the sheriff asked Steve to consent to a polygraph examination. However, per the advice of his attorney, Steve refused.

True Crime Times Blog reports authorities conducted a search of the Bechtel's home and discovered numerous personal journals, which Steve had filled with poetry, song lyrics, and other writing. Authorities were specifically interested in entries that mentioned "violence against women, and specifically, Amy." According to reports, at least one of the poems was about "contemplating murder and how a person would successfully hide a body." Steve insisted the writings had nothing to do with his wife or her disappearance.

Amid their investigation, "Unsolved Mysteries" (posted on YouTube) reports authorities also heard from a witness who was camping near the area where Bechtel's vehicle was found. The witness said she saw a blue pickup truck, which was being driven by a man and had a blonde women in the passenger seat, traveling at a high rate of speed down the mountain road. The witness later identified the truck as Steve Bechtel's.

Amy Bechtel's disappearance remains unsolved

As reported by Unsolved Mysteries, phone records later proved Steve was home at the time the witness claimed she saw his truck. Amy Skinner also said Steve "was with people all that afternoon and evening" and he "just didn't have the time" to have murdered his wife. True Crime Times Blog reports Steve's friend Sam Lightner was with him most of the day, as they were rock climbing together.

Other theories about Amy Bechtel include a fatal injury from a fall or an animal attack. However, authorities believe they would have found some evidence in either scenario. As reported by True Crime Times Blog, it has also been suggested that she may have been a victim of Dale Wayne Eaton, commonly referred to as the Great Basin Killer.

Several members of Eaton's family confirmed he was camping in the region where Bechtel went missing at the time of her disappearance. One month after Bechtel went missing, Eaton attempted to kidnap a family who was having car trouble. Although they managed to escape, he kidnapped, raped, and killed Lisa Marie Kimmell, whom he abducted from a rest stop, several years later. To date, authorities have not found any evidence linking Eaton to Bechtel's disappearance.

As reported by The Charley Project, Steve stopped cooperating with law enforcement at the advice of his attorney. He eventually had Amy declared legally dead and remarried.