A runner disappears in the Wyoming wilderness and police suspect foul play.

A young woman, Amy Bechtel, in a parka posing infront of a lake.

Amy Wroe Bechtel

Missing:

Gender: Female
DOB: 8/4/72
Height: 5’5” to 5’6
Weight: 110 to 115 lbs.
Eyes: Blue
Hair: Blonde
Defining Characteristics: Scars on both legs, shin, and knee, checker shaped scar on lower back, and a half inch by 2 inch scar on cheek (noticeable only when she is cold)
Remarks: Last seen 7/24/97

CASE DETAILS

A line of men in orange jumpsuits working in a field of tallgrass.

Volunteers started looking for Amy

On July 24, 1997, 24-year-old Amy Bechtel went for a run among the tall trees of the Shoshone National Forest near Lander, Wyoming, and vanished. As police began to suspect foul play, Amy’s husband, Steve, became a key suspect.Amy and Steve Bechtel had been married for a little more than a year. Both loved the outdoors. It was running for Amy, and climbing for Steve. They moved to Lander because its rugged terrain made it a perfect training ground.July 24th was a typical day for Amy and Steve. Steve was going rock-climbing with a friend. Amy had a long list of errands that day: call the phone company, get the gas turned on, buy home insurance. Once those tasks were done, she would reward herself by planning a route for a 10k mountain run.When Steve returned from his all-day climbing trip, Amy wasn’t home yet. Steve’s friend Todd Skinner recalled his exchange with Steve:

“We were just talking casually and he asked about Amy, and … I said, ‘I don’t know, last time I saw her she was okay.’”

Around 8:15 PM, Steve stopped in to see Todd and his wife. He told them Amy still wasn’t home. Todd recalls that Steve seemed cool:

“He wasn’t panicking by any means because it was still light, and still, you know, she could have been out doing something. It was not an unordinary day for Amy.”

A gray pick up truck driving fast

Did the witness see Amy in the truck?

Concerned, Todd and his wife Amy set out to search roads where Amy Bechtel most likely went running. Steve stayed behind, hoping his wife would call. At around 1 AM, Todd and Amy found Amy Bechtel’s car pulled off to the side of the road in an area where she might be expected to go for a run.Todd Skinner recalled the discovery:

“We were relieved. It was like, oh, man, we thought we’d found her. So I walked up completely expecting her to be in the car.”

But Amy wasn’t in the car. On hearing the news, Steve says he began to wonder if Amy hadn’t injured herself on her run:

“At that point, it was relief, you know. And concern, because, you know, her car’s still up there and it’s after midnight and, you know, she’s probably cold and maybe has a twisted ankle.”

Amy did not surface over the next 24 hours. In the following days, more than 500 people scoured a 20-mile radius. After eight days, the massive search was called off. Not a single clue was recovered. In the aftermath, Fremont County Sheriff Dave King accused Steve of knowing much more than he was saying:

“We should have found Amy Bechtel, if she were a runner up there and nothing else entered the picture. Could she still be there? Yes. But given the circumstances, the lack of clues, I don’t think she is.”

Steve Bechtel reacted to Sheriff King’s suspicions:

“I was pretty blown away, you know. And I turned to Dave, I was like, you know, ‘Dave, what’s going on here? This is not cool.’”

When Sheriff King asked Steve to take a polygraph test, Steve called for legal counsel:

“The guys says, ‘Look, if you take a polygraph test, we’ll get this cleared up right now.’ And I was like, ‘Wait a minute’, you know? ‘If you guys are accusing me of something I didn’t do, I’m going to want to talk to legal counsel here.’”

Kent Spence was Steve’s attorney:

“I wouldn’t let any client take a lie detector test. They’re completely inaccurate. They come in about 1/3 of the time as a false positive and it would be a terrible injustice to Steve if he fell within that 1/3 false positive and it was used wrongly against him.”

Deputies searched Steve and Amy’s home. Among the items they confiscated were a series of journals Steve had been keeping since high school. Sheriff King found some of the writings incriminating:

“There are writings about power and death. Some about killing people.”

Amy’s brother, Nel Wroe, told the sheriff about one night when Amy and Steve were over for dinner. Nel noticed that Amy was bruised. Amy made a joke, saying that Steve can get a little rough sometimes. Nel found Amy’s reaction odd:

“Amy just laughed it off, would not look me in the eye, and I said, that is not a normal reaction, particularly for Amy.”

Deputies also found a camper who claimed that on the day Amy disappeared, she had seen a blue pickup truck driving fast on the mountain close to where Amy’s car was found. A man was at the wheel and a blond woman in the passenger seat. The next day, the camper saw the same truck at the search site. When police showed her a picture of Steve Bechtel’s truck, she identified it as the same one she had seen.Sheriff David King summed up the case against Steve Bechtel:

“Statistically, he did it. The first person we have to eliminate in a case where there may be foul play involved in one’s disappearance is the person closest to that person.”

Sheriff’s investigators also believed there were incriminating gaps in Steve’s activities that day, time when he could have harmed his wife. But Todd Skinner’s wife, Amy, doesn’t see how Steve would have had the opportunity to be involved in Amy’s disappearance:

“He was with people all that afternoon and evening, so I don’t have any question about that. He just didn’t have the time.”

However, according to phone records, Steve made a call from his house at 4:43 that afternoon. That’s about the same time the camper saw what she alleged was his truck on the mountain road — a 45 minute drive from the Bechtels’ home.Investigators also believed Steve’s journals showed a desire for power and control that may have led to murder. Todd Skinner strongly disagreed. He says the writings were taken out of context in order to make Steve look more capable of the crime:

“A psychologist can read anything into any writing that you can ever wish to put in there. And to me, I’ve never seen more innocuous writing taken out of context more heavily to, you know, to a worse result.”

Seven years after she disappeared, Steve had Amy declared dead. He has since re-married:

“I don’t feel like me going in and getting attacked is going to solve any problems. I feel like, you know, I went and I tried to work with Dave and it didn’t work out. And, you know, things need to get solved a different way now.”

The community of Lander, Wyoming, is still divided over whether Steve Bechtel murdered his wife. Steve believes a stranger could have kidnapped her or a motorist could have accidentally struck Amy, and in a panic, disposed of her body.Amy’s family is not convinced. They want Steve to take a polygraph test.

 

Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season ten with Robert Stack and in season one with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.

SUBMIT A TIP

 

44 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Jennifer Roy

    I am going to school for my Masters degree in Criminology. I have been writing journals since I was 15 years old. I wrote poems that were dark, etc who didn’t. Fast forward to 2020. I have been into true crime genre since high school so once I would find an article or something to research I would write in down. I write everything down in my notebooks, all my research while I was on the computer doing college research. Even to this day I use notebooks for journaling, for my research for school, for a true crime podcast I am getting ready to launch after more research. Now I have a child and fiance/husband if something we’re to happen the police would do their job which is to rule out the husband /wife or boyfriend /girlfriend and next is immediate family then closest friends and it circles outwards. Steve had every right to refuse to not take a polygraph. Personally I would not take a polygraph if asked for anything. First of all it is an investigative tool only that’s why it can’t be used in court. The police had confirmation bias, they had blinders zoned in Steve instead of looking at all suspects or possible leads and the strongest person of interest is the Great Basin serial killer “Dale Richard Eaton”. There was an eye witness who described seeing the van 2 times which at the time the witness had no clue about Dale Eaton. As far as I am concerned I believe Steve is innocent and is just doing what the lawyer told him to do (Keep your mouth shut and not talk about this case with anyone not even your priest, etc. NOBODY) . I even know cops who tell their own kids if they are asked to take a lie detector test to say absolutely not. So you tell me would you take a lie detector test period? That’s my take.

    Reply

  2. Avatar

    Johnny

    It’s 2020 and this case remains a real mystery. I’m inclined to believe Steve was somehow involved. Everyone reacts different in a disappearance or tragedy. This attractive young woman Amy disappears running but Steve doesn’t appear to be broken up about it. One of the other posters brought up a good point that the rock climbing could have been used as an alibi. He could have already harmed Amy and then went off to this climbing excursion. She should have been discovered in the wide search if she had injured herself running or got dehydrated. Another strange thing was when Steve surmised what could have happened to Amy. He talked about a motorist accidentally striking Amy and then disposing of her body in a panic. If this was the case, Amy would have been discovered in the 20 mile search. The average person is not going to drive 50 or 100 miles to dispose of a body in a panic. They don’t want to be caught with a body in a vehicle. This case deserves more attention using advanced psychics and super detectives who are retired and can focus on the case.

    Reply

  3. Avatar

    Anonymous

    This dark gray text on a blavk background just doesn’t work at all.
    Someone please change it!

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Dazza

      I agree 100%, I’m actually having to highlight the text using the mouse in able to read the comments…

      What’s crazy is that the actual article is written in colours whose colours help read the text…I cannot understand why someone would think this dark grey text is a good idea…

      Reply

  4. Avatar

    Meddling Chihuahua

    For once, I sincerely doubt the husband (Steve) is responsible. The “evidence” against him is weak and circumstantial: polygraphs are totally unreliable and any lawyer worth a lick of salt would tell you not to take one; “personal writing” could be interpreted by anyone in anyway to fit their own theories; and finally, eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable. There is absolutely NO solid physical evidence that even suggests that Steve did it.

    Dale Wayne Eaton is a known sexually sadistic murderer who is currently locked up in Wyoming for the infamous “L’il Miss” murder (also featured on Unsolved Mysteries). Her car had been buried on his property, and almost all law enforcement believe he is a serial killer, quite possible the unknown ‘Great Basin Killer’.

    Eaton hid out in Shoshone National Forest in the past after being arrested for kidnapping an entire family at gunpoint. Police have proved he was in the area at the time of Amy’s disappearance – hell, so does his brother. I don’t think it’s any stretch of the imagination to believe he is probably responsible for her abduction and murder. Eaton is currently the only prisoner on Wyoming’s death row. He knows what happened to Amy, and likely, other missing and/or murdered young women.

    Hopefully, her body can be found, and/or her killer will confess, and Amy’s loved ones can be given some small measure of justice and peace.

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Dazza

      For some time I was so sure he was the guy, he seemed very dominating…the bruise made me think he was violently abusive, leaving Amy to call the phone company, get insurance and get the gas turned on, then her visits to the photography places, obviously concerned with time, as she was seen glancing at her watch…she was doing all this why Steve was having a nice day away climbing with his buddies…seemed strange behaviour for a couple planning to move into a new home within days.

      However, Eaton does fit the bill as someone who’d be capable of causing her harm, and as you say he was in the area at the time…seems a slam dunk…

      Reply

  5. Avatar

    Johnny

    I’m surprised Steve Bechtel hasn’t been arrested or placed on trial by now. I’ve seen people go on trial on less evidence. There’s his journals of power and control plus Nel Amy’s brother noticed bruising on Amy. Add that Steve was the last person to see Amy alive…Also, an eyewitness camper picked out Steve’s truck as the fast moving truck with the blonde woman. It’s not clear and convincing evidence per se but enough puzzle pieces to complete the picture. I know everyone’s personality is different but I expected Steve to be more forceful in finding Amy. He should have just taken the lie detector test the polygraph.

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Al

      “[…] Add that Steve was the last person to see Amy alive… […]”

      Where on Earth is the irrefutable proof for “this”, Johnny?

      Reply

  6. Avatar

    thinkingoutloud

    i think Steve had something to do with her disappearance (on purpose or by accident). Of course with him being the last person to see and hear from her he would claim on the same day she disappeared, they both had busy schedules in which neither one of them were together. Steve claims Amy was going to do all of these errands and then running while he was out rock climbing. I think Steve purposely went rock climbing that day just to have an alibi the day she was reported missing. He also stayed behind while he let his 2 friends go out and search for her. i think he did this to purposely have other witnesses to stumble upon her car. If Steve had volunteered to search for her while his friends or one of his friends stayed back, he knew the police would have a hard time believing he came across her car and no other evidence. I also find it shocking he says the last time he saw Amy she was okay…. how can he assume she was hurt or in an accident if he had nothing to do with it?? It’s like he believes something bad did happen to her more than her just running away or something. Also, in his interviews he doesn’t seem genuine about his love/care for Amy. He never claimed he wanted her to come back, or return safe or just hear from her in general. I think that is a very odd way to react. He just focused on maintaining his innocence. I am sure Amy was probably abused by Steve and one day he took it too far, killed her, and disposed of her body. RIP AMY

    Reply

  7. Avatar

    Patricia Garza

    Seen this on disappeared… so sad for all involved. Family and Steve. I hope they find her. Seem to me they were trying to pinned it on Steve the husband. So he got his attorney right away.. before he got stamp. Amy did say he didn’t have time cause he was alway around with people.. so that should tell you something of interest. Maybe check on the guy in prison for other murder.. offer him plea bargain in return for his testimony in her case.. a buried body maybe.

    Reply

  8. Avatar

    Anonymous

    No one saw her running, no one saw him climbing. He was seen loading equipment into his car, and he was late getting back. His actions are suspicious. Her time missing indicates she is in fact dead. Even in the 90’s you left paper trails when you leave as an established adult. I’ve lived in Wyoming and there are more than enough places to hide bodies that wont be found, it’s such a large area with hardly any people. Doubt her body will be found unless a hunter comes across it randomly or killer shows them. While the immate may have talked about killing a woman in Wyoming doesn’t mean much. All the facts need to be rechecked in this case with new forensics

    Reply

  9. Avatar

    Mike

    Sounds to me like the sheriff just wants to pin it on someone to save face. You all sure want him to be guilty. Why?

    Reply

  10. Avatar

    Leigh

    Just a note on polygraphs: My brother was several years too old to play NFL football, but the chance arose. He had to take a polygraph, which would be no problem on any other points, but they would most likely ask him his age and/or birthdate. He coached himself to remain calm and passed the polygraph with flying colors. He lied successfully. So can others.

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Al

      The secret to fooling any polygraph test with absolute (t)ease (pun intended) is to deliberately become nervous within yourself (fidget about like there’s no tomorrow) and leave a dumbfounding delay each time before answering simple questions truthfully, like when you tell the questioner your name, age and DOB etc. Duh! To be sure of being adequately nervous and figdgetty, you can jab yourself with a pin just before you answer all the non-inculpatory questions truthfully.

      “Old Brown Mule, he must be sick, so I jabbed him in the rump with a pin on a stick; he humped his back, but he wouldn’t kick…there’s somethin’ cock-eyed somewhere.” (from Carson Robison’s *Life gets Teejus*.”

      And don’t forget to tell the polygrapher that you will only submit to taking the polygraph test if s/he promises to ask you heaps of ‘loaded questions’, like: “Have you stopped beating and raping your wife/husband yet?”

      Reply

    • Avatar

      Dazza

      Agree, 100%, Leigh…

      There are websites out there telling people how to fool them, and they are that unreliable that in the UK our courts and even the cops won’t use them…I’m surprised any modern country does, to be honest…

      Some jurisdictions in some countries know they aren’t 100% but use them with the erroneous crazy idea that they are useful as an investigation tool, not for results, but because, in their opinion, only someone with something to hide would refuse to take one…and so would need further investigation, and become a suspect of person of interest.

      I’m no fan of defence lawyers, but I agree 100% with any of them that say don’t take a polygraph…

      The cops may as well be reading Tarot cards or Runes as take polygraphs seriously…

      Reply

  11. Avatar

    Johnny

    Remember this case from 20 years ago. The suspicion should be on Steve Bechtel Amy’s husband. Usually, in these cases…The husband is somehow involved. Sheriff Dave King made a salient point that Amy should have been found if she was just running up there. The 500 person and 20 mile search would have definitely discovered her if she had twisted an ankle or become dizzy somehow during the run. Another thing: Her car was close by. She could have limped or summoned the strength to make it back to the vehicle. I know Steve was still young when Amy disappeared but having her declared dead strange for me. This would be time to convene a Wyoming Grand Jury to see if there is enough evidence on Steve Bechtel. Let’s get the ball rolling on this case to find out where Amy is dead or alive.

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Anonymous

      I don’t think that having a missing spouse declared dead is really enough proof. I mean, pushing for it after one year would be shady, but after seven years, it isn’t irrational to do that. His life (regardless of guilt) still went on, he met someone, and he couldn’t marry them until his wife was declared legally dead. Otherwise, he would have never been allowed a marriage license given that bigamy is illegal.

      Reply

    • Avatar

      Al

      […] Sheriff Dave King made a salient point that Amy should have been found if she was *just running* up there. […]

      And if Amy wasn’t *just running* up there? Who, apart from Amy, can say with absolute certainty exactly what in entirety Amy was doing up there? Sheriff Dave King should leave the cobbling together of serious synapses to those having at least a modicum of nous. Next thing we know, Dave King is ludicrously likely to come out with something so preciously-profound like taking to tell everyone that Aesop’s hare would have easily beaten the tortoise if it hadn’t’ve needed to stop for a spell to re-tie its shoe laces. Sheesh!

      Reply

      • Avatar

        Al

        Dave King’s saying “…if she was *just running* up there…” only goes to show that he’s *run out* of ideas, but don’t go *running any clues past him* or Dave King and his cronies will likely treat you as his prime and only suspect.! Can’t be too careful.

        Reply

  12. Avatar

    joey

    Any update. On this

    Reply

  13. Avatar

    James

    I wouldn’t take a polygraph either and people put way too much stock in those things. There are cases where a killer passes it with flying colors and cases where an innocent person fails one miserably.

    There are many cases of women/teen girls being attacked, raped, and/or murdered while going out jogging or hiking. To immediately assume her husband killed her is doing a huge disservice to this case and even more so the victim.

    Reply

  14. Avatar

    SK

    I remember this (as a climber who had been to Lander around that time, when it was becoming famous. Sad to see this hasn’t been updated to include suspicions around the convicted killer/attempted kidnapper and suspected serial killer, Dale Eaton. There has been a lot of speculation of his involvement. Also absent from this account is the botched police investigation.

    Reply

  15. Avatar

    Jose

    Dios bendice a su familia Ella donde quiere que este Dios esta con ella

    Reply

  16. Avatar

    E M Umbay

    not saying she wasnt killed by her husband, but there is not enough proof for people to be pointing the finger at him! just cuz he wouldnt take the polygraph test. i wouldnt take one of them either. i have seen the results used against people when they were innocent. they r not accurate enough to base a conclusion on.

    Reply

  17. Avatar

    leslie

    The date in this story (July 2, 1998) does not the match the date given for her disappearance (July 24, 1997). Seems like a weird discrepancy. Anyone know why the difference? And what is the correct date?

    Reply

    • Avatar

      unsolved

      Our apologies for the wrong date – it has been corrected. Amy disappeared on July 24, 1997.

      Reply

    • Avatar

      Al

      “[…] Seems like a weird discrepancy. Anyone know why the difference? […]”

      *Murphy* (who often moonlights as a temerarious typesetter) is alive and well. If he wasn’t both alive AND well then he’d not be able to do whatever he can to help the police in badly-botching their investigations. Onya Murphy!

      The police *lie* in wait for the day when they’re able to fake..err..make *Murphy* undergo a polygraph test.

      Reply

  18. Avatar

    Jim

    Betcha Mr. Eaton is responsible for this attrocity. He is a worthless, leeching, no-good scumbag who preys on women. His own brother has admitted his brother was in the area at the time of Amy’s disappearance. Her body is most likely buried within 10 miles of where she was last. I bet if they search more dense, wooded areas, they will find her.

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Al

      “[…] I bet if they searched more dense, wooded areas, they will find her.”

      Unless they use very good ‘cadaver dogs’ (and it may well be too late to do so now, given it’s nearly 23 years ago) to find Amy’s remains they’ve got Buckley’s. Why have a dog and bark y’self?

      Reply

  19. Avatar

    CircuitGuy

    I’ve heard the scientific evidence supports his claim that the polygraph is not reliable. That’s why it’s not admissible in court. Another commenter posted a link to an article saying they’re following leads from psychics.
    It sounds like they desperately would like to solve this case and, not having any clues, are willing to turn to things that are proven not to work just to get answers. Maybe they could have the psychic read his mind during the polygraph test.

    Reply

  20. Avatar

    Denise shimmin

    I have just watched your show now and this case is so very sad! I pray that the family get the answers they need and deserveI I can’t imagine what they must be going through! I’ve looked on Google to see if there’s any further updates but the last was in 2013

    Reply

  21. Avatar

    KayKay

    Steve murdered her. I feel sorry for his new wife……..

    Reply

  22. Avatar

    janet franson

    This is one of my cases in NamUs. If you have any information, please contact [email protected]

    Reply

  23. Avatar

    Beleran

    This is a 2013 article about this investigation following new leads to a man on death row for taking and killing another woman in Wyoming. They have been told this man was camped in the area where Ms. Bechtel went missing. ReAding this article, you’ll notice now they’re investigating claims made by phsychics. Awesome. Cause, you know, screw science.

    http://county10.com/2013/03/05/amy-wroe-bechtel-disappearance-takes-new-turn-prime-suspect-on-wyomings-death-row/

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Al

      Although your posted URL gets the County10 webpage to download okay, it only says “No results found”, so it’s no wonder at all that Amy Bechtel can’t be found.

      Reply

  24. Avatar

    Anonymous

    Polygraphs are pseudoscience and not admissible. This ” test” is not a measuring stick. It’s become a whip. Steve, if you’ve found love, awesome. Steve’s new wife, never go running alone. Or sleeping next to Steve. Lol

    Peace for Amy. Wherever she is.

    Reply

  25. Avatar

    Jordan smith

    Gotta admit i’d do that test anyway. Reading the 411 books it seems to happen way too much, I pray she is found safe.

    Reply

    • Avatar

      Anonymous

      The Missing 411 books give me mixed feelings about Steve. It is odd that he didn’t take a polygraph and I don’t know where his lawyer pulled the figures on 1/3 concluding as false positives.

      Reply

  26. Avatar

    Miranda shortt

    Hope she is found alive

    Reply

  27. Avatar

    Tammy Thomas

    She’s been gone sooo long. I believe she is dead. It’s seems to be such a cold case. No body, no suspects, nothing.

    Reply

  28. Avatar

    jean helmer

    hope they find her pray for great outcome

    Reply

Help bring Christopher Dansby and Shane Walker back to their families. Share this post across social media or submit a tip to unsolved.com/tips #unsolvedmysteries ...

An icy lake leads to a Michigan mother's mysterious death. What baffling clues were left behind? #unsolvedmysteries ...

The abduction of two children in 1980s New York City still haunt the families left behind. Can you help bring them home? #unsolvedmysteries ...

Ghostly sightings and human possessions follow a devastating tsunami in Japan. Are these spirits unable to pass over to the afterlife? #unsolvedmysteries ...

How could a child murderer who was sentenced to death be allowed to walk away? The US Marshals Service is offering a $25,000 reward for information that leads to his capture. #unsolvedmysteries ...

An elegant young woman is found dead in her upscale Oslo hotel room. What happened in Room 2805? #unsolvedmysteries ...

An American patriot meets an inconceivable demise, but who was responsible?



The Delaware Crime Stoppers are offering a $10K reward for information leading to an arrest in the case of John Wheeler III. #unsolvedmysteries
...

The wait is finally over but your investigations have just begun. Will you help solve six new mysteries? Watch Unsolved Mysteries: Volume 2 now available on Netflix. #unsolvedmysteries ...

Time to solve the first mystery of Unsolved Mysteries: Volume 2. Where was the trailer last seen? ...

When you realize you haven’t seen a Volume 2 trailer yet… #unsolvedmysteries ...