Avid Runner Disappears In National Forest
Location: Shoshone National Forest
Date Missing: 07-24-1997
Current Status: Unresolved
Amy departed from the Lander, Wyoming apartment she shared with her husband of one year, Steve Bechtel, at approximately 9:30 a.m. on July 24, 1997 to run errands for the house they had just purchased and were going to move into. She was seen at a local photo shop at approximately 2:30 p.m. that afternoon; employees at the store said she seemed to be in a hurry and looked at her watch several times.
Authorities believe Amy left the business and drove to Shoshone National Forest to check the course of an upcoming ten-kilometer run planned by her gym. She have have been seen running along the Loop Road; a footprint similar to her sneaker was found there, but it was destroyed before police could attempt to match it. Amy is an avid runner. She has never been seen again.
Steve returned to their residence at approximately 4:30 p.m. He had been socializing with friends and moving items into his new house all day. Steve was not initially concerned for Amy, but he summoned the authorities when his wife did not arrive home by 10:30 p.m.
Amy’s white Toyota station wagon was discovered abandoned along Loop Road in the Wind River Mountains near Shoshone National Park shortly after her disappearance. Her keys, her $120 sunglasses, and her to-do list for the day were inside the vehicle, but her green Eagle Creek wallet was missing. There was no other sign of Amy at the scene, nor were there any indications of foul play.
Investigators began focusing on Steve and searched his journals for possible clues as to his wife’s whereabouts. Steve wrote about an apparent need for control in his journal and also penned an undated poem that revolved around murdering a person and then hiding the remains. A woman who was camping in Shoshone National Park on the day Amy was last seen told authorities that she witnessed a truck similar to Steve’s vehicle speeding through the park during the early evening hours. The woman stated that she saw an unidentified blonde-haired woman in the passenger seat. It is not known if the incident is related to Amy’s case.
Acquaintances of the couple gave conflicting statements about their relationship; some described it was idyllic, but others stated that Steve was jealous and often belittled Amy, and that her demeanor changed whenever she was around him.
Steve’s attorney advised him to stop cooperating with law enforcement and refuse a polygraph test. Steve maintains his innocence and believes that authorities focused on him due to a lack of suspects and evidence in Amy’s disappearance. He was interviewed only once by authorities; he refused to speak with them further after he said the questions turned accusatory. Steve remarried several years after Amy vanished and still lives in the house they purchased days before her disappearance.
A suspect in Amy’s case is Dale Wayne Eaton, who is presently the only inmate on Wyoming’s death row. He was convicted of the 1988 rape and murder of an eighteen-year-old Lisa Marie Kimmel. Investigators believe Eaton may be the so-called “Great Basin Killer,” the serial killer whom they think was responsible for the murders of at least nine women in Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and Nevada between 1983 and 1997. His brother claims Eaton was in the Lander area at the time Amy went missing. Eaton has refused to discuss Amy’s disappearance and has never been charged in any other cases besides Kimmel’s.
Amy graduated from the University of Wyoming in 1995. She is described as shy, quiet, disciplined and goal-oriented. She enjoys rock climbing and amateur photography in addition to running, and hoped to someday be an Olympic marathoner. Her family continues to search for her, though her father died after her disappearance. Amy’s case remains unsolved. Foul play is suspected.