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

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

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.”

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 one with Dennis Farina and coming soon with Robert Stack. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina.

SUBMIT A TIP

 

27 Comments

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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

    • 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

  6. joey

    Any update. On this

    Reply

  7. 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

  8. 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

  9. Jose

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

    Reply

  10. 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

  11. 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

  12. 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

  13. 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

  14. 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

  15. KayKay

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

    Reply

  16. janet franson

    This is one of my cases in NamUs. If you have any information, please contact janet.franson@unthsc.edu

    Reply

  17. 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

  18. 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

  19. 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

    • 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

  20. Miranda shortt

    Hope she is found alive

    Reply

  21. 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

  22. jean helmer

    hope they find her pray for great outcome

    Reply