Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Missing Tuesday - Steven Koecher

I spent a week in southern Utah earlier this month, and we went through the city of St. George.  It is an attractive mid-sized city with a beautiful setting, a year-round mild climate and many amenities to offer its residents.  It brought to mind the disappearance of Steven Koecher, a St. George resident who vanished Sunday, December 13, 2009.  He has not been seen or heard from since that date.

Steven was born on November 1, 1979, into a large devout LDS family.  The family home is in Bountiful, UT, in northern Utah.  His parents are Deanne and Rolf Koecher and he has four siblings.

Steven was a college graduate and aspired to a career in public relations and communications.  He played guitar and tried his hand at writing music. He served a mission in Brazil, as had his father before him.  He enjoyed genealogy and often took his parents on cemetery tours to show them his discoveries.  An Eagle scout, Steven was a genuinely good person and tended to think the best of people. 


From September 2003 through May 2004, Steven worked as an intern at the governor’s office in Salt Lake City.  Before moving to St. George, he had worked as a stringer for the Davis County Clipper newspaper in Bountiful, UT, where his father was the editor.  Steven sometimes published his stories as Steven Thell (his middle name) to distance himself from his father’s position at the newspaper.  In March 2007, he took a job working for the online version of the Salt Lake City Tribune, but was laid off in July 2008.

After losing his job at the Salt Lake City Tribune, Steven took a sales job with MatchBin.com in Salt Lake City in October 2008.  He moved to St. George, UT, in March 2009 to get away from the northern Utah winters while continuing to work for MatchBin.com.  He was let go from his job in April 2009 because the company felt he was not working out as a sales rep.  In December 2009, Steven found a job working part-time for Travis Window and Blind Cleaning Company, distributing flyers.  Also during the month of December, Steven was subcontracting to put up Christmas decorations to earn extra money.

After his move to St. George, Steven did not having much luck finding a full-time job.  His family said he was depressed and having financial problems, and that he refused an offer of financial assistance from his father to help him with his rent just days before he vanished.  Steven was also feeling pressured to live up to his family's expectations for a successful career, marriage, and family of his own, as his siblings and cousins had all done.  On December 9, a few days before arriving in the Las Vegas area, Steven drove 500 miles to Ruby Valley, NV, to visit the family of a girl he had briefly dated.  The visit was unannounced and the young woman was not even home.  Steven visited with her parents, John and Kathy Neff, and stayed for lunch, then returned to St. George, making stops at Wendover, NV, Springville, UT, and Nephi, UT en route.  He drove 1,200 miles in three days without any specific purpose.  It appears to be random or stress-induced behavior.  His behavior and mental state prior to his disappearance could have been leading up to amnesia (amnesia is rare in disappearances, but Steven had some of the classic behaviors).

Steven contacted both of his parents on December 10, sending his father a text message and speaking with his mother.  They talked about the holidays, and Steven told her that he expected to arrive in Bountiful to spend Christmas with the family on December 23.  That was the last time his parents heard from him.

On December 11, Steven assisted two children who were locked out of their St. George home.  Steven was seen leaving his residence on December 12, 2009.  He stopped for gas in Mesquite, NV, about 40 miles away from St. George.  No one knows why he was in Mesquite in the first place.  He bought Christmas presents for his brother’s children on the same day at the K-Mart in St. George – this was his last financial transaction according to bank records.  He was seen arriving home in St. George at 10 p.m. by a neighbor; the same neighbor saw him leave about a half hour later at 10:30 p.m.

He spoke with several men from his church the next day via cell phone and told them he was in Las Vegas, but did not state why he was there.  One of his friends called about a church meeting, and Steven offered to return to St. George.  The friend told him not to worry about it.  No one spoke to Steven after that call.

On December 14, Steven’s car, a white 2003 Chevrolet Cavalier, was found abandoned in the 2600 block of Savannah Spring Avenue, a cul-de-sac, in Henderson, NV.  The area is part of an upscale retirement community known as Sun City Anthem.  Video footage from two security cameras shows Steven parking the car on December 13 and then walking away with a firm step as though he had a specific destination in mind.  Approximately 6 minutes elapses from the time Steven's white car is first seen at 11:54 a.m., until he walks past the first security camera at exactly 12 noon.  The second video camera picks up Steven's car in the background at 11:54 a.m., and then the image of Steven walking at about 25 seconds after 12 noon.  So he waited in his car for six minutes before getting out.  It seems pretty obvious that he had an appointment with someone for 12 noon and wisely arrived a few minutes early.  We will never know what Steven did while he waited - it's a shame he didn't make a couple of cell phone calls while he sat in the car.

The surveillance footage shows Steven walking down the sidewalk, turning left, then crossing the street, and moving out of sight.  There is nothing unsure or hesitant about his demeanor.  He is dressed casually in sneakers and jeans, certainly not business attire that would be appropriate for a job interview.  Steven was carrying a folder, which could have contained resumes or flyers or sales contracts for the company that he worked for.  Possibly he had been contacted about putting up Christmas decorations for one of the houses in the area.  He appears to know exactly where he is going, as he is not approaching any of the houses to leave a flyer or pausing to look for a house number.  The two sections of video footage may be viewed on YouTube.

Steven’s shaving kit, clothing, pillow, and blanket were found in the car, and it appeared he had been sleeping in his car while driving around during the days before he disappeared.  The car also contained wrapped Christmas presents that he had purchased a few days earlier.  His cell phone, wallet and driver’s license were missing.  He had left his laptop computer and cell phone charger at home, indicating that he did not intend to be gone from home longer than a day or two.

About five hours after Steven was seen on the surveillance video, his cell phone signal was picked up several miles north of where his car was found.  Two hours later, his cell phone signal was picked up again, this time in Whitney Ranch, a Henderson subdivision.  At 6 a.m. on December 14, the day after Steve was last seen, someone used the phone to check for voice mail messages at a third location.  The signal remained in that location for two days, and then was lost, probably because the charge on the phone ran down.

Three days after his car was found abandoned, Steven’s parents were contacted by the Henderson parking police.  Steven’s father and brothers drove to Nevada to look for Steven just hours after they were notified, searching the Henderson and Las Vegas areas, posting flyers, and checking with hospitals, restaurants and even the Clark County jail and morgue.  They were baffled by the car’s location, since the area was not easy to find and off the beaten path for the casual visitor.  The car started and had a half tank of gas, so car trouble was ruled out.  Since he was not seen leaving the area, possibly Steven was meeting someone there and got into a car and drove off with this person.

Extensive searches were conducted near the last place Steven was seen and in other areas near Las Vegas.  No evidence turned up.  The case remains open and police are investigating any leads or tips.  Obvious places to search would include the area where Steven's car was found, and the locations where his cell phone signal was detected after he was seen on the surveillance footage.  Also, where was Steven when  he talked to the members of his church earlier in the day?  His cell phone records might give a clue to where he spent the night.  If he left St. George at 10:30 p.m., he should have arrived in the Las Vegas area shortly after midnight.

The Koecher family believes Steven went to Nevada to follow up a job lead.  Although he did not specify to his friends why he was there, he made no secret of the fact that he was in Las Vegas.  His disappearance does not appear to be intentional or planned, since he took no money and his passport was found in his apartment, as well as his computer and phone charger.  His bank account has not been touched since he vanished, and his cell phone has not been used.  If Steven did disappear voluntarily, it was a spur-of-the-moment decision.  Although his random driving in the days prior to his disappearance appears erratic and secretive, his family says he was just trying to stay busy.

There has been speculation that Steven was gay and could not reconcile his sexual orientation with his LDS beliefs, or that he left to start a new life, or that he had met a guy online.  It IS odd that Steven was 30 years old, a devout LDS, and not married.  He was a good looking guy, and marriage at a young age is encouraged in the Mormon church.  Even his mother made a remark about how he just needed to find the right girl.  There are a lot of guys out there who are straight, have never married, and just don't know how to connect with women (I have two brothers-in-law who fall into this category).  They feel lonely and left out at family gatherings.  So while it's unusual that Steven was 30 and not married, it doesn't mean he was gay.

Initially, an attempt was made to tie Steven’s disappearance to the disappearance of a Utah woman named Susan Powell who vanished the same week that Steven did, but no connection was made since Steven and Susan did not know each other.  Susan’s disappearance received far more media attention than Steven’s did.  Susan’s father-in-law was obsessed with her and it is possible he had something to do with her disappearance.  Her husband Josh had a suspicious alibi and is suspected of involvement, but he died in a fire in February 2012.


A Henderson man reported to police that he spoke to Steven twice in the parking lot of the Best Buy store in Henderson on Super Bowl Sunday 2010, over a month after Steven was last seen.  The man’s wife and another person were present and agreed that they were positive that it was Steven.  When he went to the Henderson police to report the sighting, the detective assigned to the case treated the information with suspicion, particularly regarding the date, even though the man had a date-stamped receipt from the store.  When the man related the conversation to Steven’s parents, they said it sounded exactly like Steven would have acted.

Workers at the International House of Pancakes in Flamingo also reported seeing Steven several times.  They believed he was homeless and disoriented.  Although his family staked out the restaurant for several days, they did not see Steven there.  Bus riders in the Las Vegas metro area reported seeing Steven riding buses there, but the sightings were never verified.

It seems like Steven's computer should have provided more clues.  Nowadays, people rarely do things like travel without leaving some sort of trail on their computers:  Google searches, websites, blogs, travel reviews, etc.  If Steven was short on cash and planned to sleep in his car, it seems like he would have checked out inexpensive restaurants and places to wash up in the morning (especially if he was planning to keep an appointment about work).  You can plan to eat breakfast at McDonald's but if you don't find out where one is located, you may not be able to follow through with that plan.

Steven’s car was not checked for DNA and other evidence, so it is unknown if anyone was with him during the days he was driving around or when he was in Nevada.  The Koecher family had a Salt Lake City police narcotics dog sniff over Steven’s vehicle, with no hits for drugs.  They hired a private investigator to canvass the residents in the Henderson neighborhood.  Other than the security footage, no one admits to seeing Steven.  A real estate agent who was driving a white SUV in the area that day does not remember seeing Steven (her vehicle appears on the surveillance tapes).

Steven’s mother Deanne thinks he may gave committed suicide based on his mental state, but other family members disagree and believe he was the victim of foul play.  They do not believe that Steven disappeared by choice and that he would have contacted them by now, even if he had decided to embark on a new lifestyle.  He was particularly close to his younger brother Dallin.  Rolf Koecher passed away suddenly in February 2011, without ever learning what had happened to his son.  Every December, Steven’s family and friends gather for a tree-lighting ceremony to mark the date of his disappearance.  For them, not knowing is the worst thing.  The police do not know what to think about Steven's disappearance:  there is no evidence of foul play, but they have no evidence or explanation about what happened to Steven or where he is.

Steven Thell Koecher was 30 years old at the time of his disappearance; today he is 32 years old.  He is 5’11” tall, of average build weighing around 180 lbs.  Steven is Caucasian and has blond hair and blue eyes.  He has a surgical scar behind each ear.  At the time he vanished, Steven was wearing a hooded sweatshirt, blue jeans or Dockers pants, and white sneakers.  He is a clean-cut young man with no criminal or drug-related history.

Anyone having information about Steven should contact the Henderson police at 702/267-5000 or the St. George police at 435/627-4319.

 

18 comments:

  1. What went wrong with him? He's a good guy and has everything in his life then why he should be lost in his mind... just asking.

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  2. One word sums it up: STRESS. Worry about money, worry about finding a job, the stress of not measuring up in a family of high achievers. Failures on top of failures can lead anyone to the edge eventually. No one is immune.

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  3. Why hasnt the police checked his car for dna?what are they waitnig on exactly?

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  4. It appears that the Police have done extensive testing of the vehicle and other related property and found nothing to indicate or point them into an action. One of the above comments seems to carry some merit,, STRESS... this is the one state of mind in even the very best of people that will make them do something that is beyond our normal belief system.. But,,foul play can never be ruled out.. My heart goes out to Steven's family members,it's a long time to live in limbo, with nowhere to look, and it is heart wrenching to everyone, every day... Maybe one day God willing, the family will receive a phone call from Steven...Something positive may come up one day,, Never give up, never forget... God Bless...

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  5. Is it not possible that the person caught on film walking away from the car is not Steven ,it looked like this person had a purpose in their walk , could that purpose have been to dump the car and where better to dump a car but in a quiet part of town ,I believe the mobile phone movements afterwards are the person that dumped the car , the not knowing must be terrible for his family my heart goes out to them

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  6. This case is very similar to the 4/13/11 case of Patrick Carnes, missing from the Wells, NV area on a trip back to Reno, NV. I think the focus should be on 2 truckers, or a husband/wife team of truckers. I have a strong feeling there is some connection there. Steven was alone and vulnerable, probably also very trusting, just like Mr. Carnes. If these 2 befriended him in some way and were kind, nice, understanding, etc., he might have been taken in by them. I strongly suspect foul play rather than suicide, even though Steven was troubled. Sadly, I suspect that both Mr. Carnes and Steven are probably dead.

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  7. I am not totally convinced that Steven was the one caught on video. He was the average size and coloring of many young American men, including a potential killer. The footage is just too fuzzy to say definitively. Murderers have abandoned their victims' cars in a similar way. On a different episode of "Disappeared", they showed footage of an unidentified man abandoning his victim's car in a similar fashion after remaining in the car for a bit. While not 6 minutes, it indicated cautionary look-out behavior. Perhaps waiting for a neighbor to go back inside, or a vehicle to leave the area, before exiting the car and becoming noticeable. On the other hand, if it is Steven, it would seem that he had a noon appointment at one of those immediate homes. Perhaps LE needs to reexamine the neighbors in those homes and any emails and websites (e.g. Craigslist) that may indicate who he was meeting. If the IHOP homeless man was Steven, then he may still be out there living a vagrant lifestyle, possibly not even knowing who he is anymore. If he is dead - whether murdered, by suicide, or via exposure - I hope his remains will be found soon. My heart goes out to the family and condolences on the passing of Rolf (Steven's father) just weeks after filming "Disappeared". Steven's episode was well-done and has sparked interest via replay on Netflix.

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    1. I would definitely turn that car up side down for finger prints. If it indeed was him in the surveilance the focus should be not far from where the cameras were. He had turned a corner like he knew exactly where he was going. The answer will be not far from those cameras. If I were the detectives I would focus on a two block radius of the cameras. I have a stong feeling of this that the cell phone records and last friends might have more information than they are claiming also... like the roomate

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    2. You should definitely hire somebody like the cia or something that has technology to enhance the video so that you can get a better focus on whether its hin or not and make sure that its a folder that he's holding... what he has in his hands in the video might be the key to crack open the investigation wide open

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  8. My mom has a second house in that area. It is a very quiet, 55 and older community. My dad died in 2009 and not to make an excuse I wasn't thinking clearly and my judgment was off. I met two individuals, Jason Shane Blevins and Barbara Burch at a casino. They were con artists. They said her purse got stolen and they were basically screwed and had no money to get back to Ohio. I let them stay at my mom's house (she was out of state) with me and tried to help them get a job on the computer. After two weeks, and them not working at all my mom was coming back to town. I told them they had to leave but I would work out a deal with a hotel to get them a room for a few days with my comps. I left to pick up my mom from the airport and they must of left a window open and stole everything. I made a police report. I had written down their vehicle license and the info off of Jason blevins id in case they turned out to be shady. The vehicle was stolen. I never saw them do drugs but later found numerous arrests on the computer for contempt if court, rape, drugs, burglary, and other crimes. I mention this because I heard them making jokes about their friend Steven kosher who helped them tremendously but then disappeared. I did not know or pay too much attention because we were all drinking but I found it bizarre they kept mentioning their friend that disappeared. I saw the show disappeared featuring him a few months after. They were pronouncing the name Steven kosher so I doubt it is the same person. It is embarrassing that I was so naive and let my guard down helping these people. But the only good thing is I had tons of info about the two of them including; names, dob, previous employers, former girlfriends name for Jason, kids names for Barbara, address in Ohio for Jason, license plate, tattoos, etc. That I gave with my police report. This info probably won't amount to anything but in the last five years seeing how many times Jason has been arrested and for the crimes he was charged with, I wouldn't be surprised with anything he gets charged with.

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    1. Are you serious?! Is this the Jason Shane Blevins your talking about?


      Ex-UPS employee accused of stealing PCs to pay off debts

      undefined
      Jason Shane Blevins, 39, is charged with aggregate theft.


      October 24, 2011 1:10:05 PM PDT



      HOUSTON --
      A former UPS employee is accused of using company funds to buy computers, then sell them on eBay to pay off his gambling debts.
      Jason Shane Blevins, 39, is charged with aggregate theft. Blevins allegedly stole 70 computers worth more than $43,000 from UPS from November 2008 through April 2011.

      Court documents state a UPS audit discovered that computers were being bought then sold by an employee to accounts that were not legitimate. Investigators say Blevins confessed in a written statement explaining that he was stealing computers by using false information to obtain them and reselling them on eBay to pay off a gambling debt.

      UPS terminated Blevins upon completion of its internal investigation, court documents show.

      Bond has been set at $5,000 in this case.

      Map My News



      --------------------------------------------------------------------------------





      Anywho, I hope this is not some sick joke.

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    2. PLEASE report this to the Henderson Police Department!!

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  9. Why would Steve Koecher leave a metro area and move to a depressed small town where he apparently had no connections or roots to look for work or a new career ? It makes no sense. I think important information about SK has been withheld. Maybe he was gay and went to St George to make a contact. On the other hand, I don't think he left Henderson alive, it has the appearance of a Craiglist gone bad. His computer normally would provide significant insights, but the programs on this event just pain him as a upright, moral, young Mormon - too shallow a picture in my view. I don't mean to be negative about SK, we all have good and bad and secret parts of our personality and I sense he was becoming desperate.

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  10. Not the same Jason blevins. This guy was born in 1977 and is 37. This isn't bullshit. Jason was from Ohio. Barbara Burch from Kentucky. Jason was eventually arrested and sent back to nevada. But since I don't live there anymore I couldn't make it to court was released. U can look him up as jason Shane blevins sex offender in ohio. Barbara Burch still has a warrant on Henderson nevada weekly online warrant search for grand larceny and being in possession of a stolen vehicle. My mom still lives in anthem....

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  11. http://www.homefacts.com/offender-detail/OH1565332/Jason-S-Blevins.html

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  12. This is another arrest of his. Literally, I think this guy has been arrested 50 plus times. I gave the police all their information before. I met them at the wild wild west casino when I was working next door at the city center project. This arrest was for when he was transported back to Nevada to face the grand larceny and stolen vehicle charges. I do not go on these sites often. Like I mentioned before, they kept mentioning their friend kosher instead of koecher disappeared so it might mean nothing. All I know is after talking to the police about this guy and his insane amount and types of arrests I would not put anything past him......http://kentucky.arrests.org/Arrests/Jason_Blevins_9622319/.

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  13. Last comment. Here is more information on Jason. http://mugshots.com/US-Counties/Ohio/Unsorted-OH/Jason-S-Blevins.8762851.html

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  14. I guess this is my last comment. http://www.clarkcountynv.gov/depts/justicecourt/henderson/WarrantList/Henderson%20Warrant%20List.pdf
    Here is current warrants for Henderson Nevada. Like I said, I have no proof they (Jason Blevins and Barbara Burch) had anything to do with steven koecher's disappearance. I do know, that they both have numerous arrests for violent crimes aka rape, contempt of court (shows anger issues), DUI, cocaine, thefts etc. I also know that they mentioned numerous times their friend steven kosher (I know it is spelled wrong but I am trying to spell it the way they pronounced it) helped them out numerous ways before he disappeared. I took it as some kind of inside joke until I saw the disappeared episode. They would always joke, especially while drinking, too bad steven is nowhere to be found and say things like that. It probably means nothing. I just thought it was very weird to have watched that show afterwards and especially for that neighborhood a crime of the magnitude taking place with these two scumbags in the same area......best of luck and I hope they find out what happened to him.....

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