Wyoming November 16, 2017
This Baffling Disappearance In Wyoming Still Remains Unsolved 20 Years Later
Few things are as frustrating or baffling as an unsolved mystery, and 2017 marks the 20th year that one of the most strange unexplained mysteries in Wyoming has gone unsolved.
In the summer of 1997, a 24-year-old Lander woman disappeared without a trace. Although police and even the FBI have investigated suspects and theories, none of the leads have panned out. Two decades later, family, friends, and the authorities still want to know what happened to Amy Wroe Bechtel.
On an afternoon in late July of 1997, Amy Wroe Bechtel vanished, leaving no clues as to where she went or if foul play was involved.
The last time anyone reported seeing her was at 2:30 p.m. in Lander, Wyoming.
It's believed that Amy drove straight from a photo store in town where she'd last been seen to the Shoshone National Forest northwest of Lander.
Amy was a runner and was training for the 2000 Olympics. She had been planning on entering a 10K race that was to be run on a loop in that Wyoming forest, and those who knew her say she wanted to explore the course in preparation for the race.
When Amy's husband returned home that afternoon from rock climbing in Dubois with a friend, there was no sign of Amy anywhere. When it grew dark, and she still hadn't come home or called, her husband contacted the police and called family and friends to help search for his missing wife.
Not long after she disappeared, Amy's car was found just off a dirt road in the Shoshone National Forest. The keys were in it, but investigators didn't find Amy's wallet or any evidence that she'd been taken from the car by force.
With no signs of a struggle or that foul play was involved, it was presumed that whatever happened to Amy took place after she'd left her vehicle to take a run as she'd planned.
Search dogs were brought to the area to help look for any traces of Amy.
No blood evidence, torn clothing, or even indications that Amy had injured herself or had been attacked by an animal were ever found.
Some suspects were considered and questioned, including Amy's husband even though he had been over 70 miles away when she disappeared.
Convicted murderer Dale Wayne Eaton is one person of interest who hasn't been cleared, but there's not currently any evidence to conclusively tie him to the disappearance, either.
Eaton admitted to the 1988 abduction, rape, and killing of a Montana woman near the North Platt River while in federal prison for an unrelated charge. Relatives of the convict told investigators that he'd been camped in an area near Lander called Burnt Gulch when Amy vanished. Considering his violent background and his proximity to the area, it's possible that he could have followed Amy to the forest and abducted her.
Without any traces of Amy or physical evidence that Eaton was involved, this lead is at a dead end. He is on death row in Wyoming awaiting a new sentencing hearing and refuses to talk to authorities regarding Amy's case. Until it's determined whether he will face the death penalty for the murder of Lisa Marie Kimmel, investigators in the Wroe Bechtel case don't have anything to bargain with to entice Eaton to cooperate.
Even though considerable time has passed and leads have waned, investigators will continue to search for answers to Amy's disappearance.
The mystery surrounding Amy’s disappearance is considered a cold case, but media attention and sporadic new leads revive interest occasionally. However, investigators and those close to Amy will never have closure until the case is solved.
What unsolved Wyoming mystery have you puzzled over?