On December 13, 2009, thirty-year-old Steven Koecher drove his white 2003 Chevy Cavalier over two hours away from his home in St. George, Utah, to an affluent suburb in Henderson, Nevada. To this day, neither his family nor his friends know why Steven ended up in the seemingly-random suburbs across state lines.
At almost 12:00 pm exactly, home security cameras recorded Steven calmly, yet purposefully, walking down the sidewalk and out of view. He did not readily appear to disoriented or wandering, but moving as if he were headed towards a specific destination. He appeared to be holding a small package under his arm, possibly a manila folder.
Steven left wrapped Christmas gifts (purchased only a few days earlier), his shaving kit, and pillows and blankets behind in the car. After he quickly walked out of the frame of the residential security cameras, Steven was never seen again.
Authorities were unable to find evidence of foul play; however, Steven’s family is adamant that though, he had trouble finding employment in the area, he did not seem suicidal or as if he were trying to run away from his life. The disappearance of Steven Koecher is an absolute mystery, one prefaced with a 2,100 mile inexplicable road trip, and concluded with abandoned Christmas gifts and no discernible clues or suspects.
Please note that most of the below items are taken from this site on Steven Koecher, which has a lot of interesting information.
-Early December 2009-
Steven’s landlord calls his parents because he has not made a rent payment in three months.
According to some posts in mystery forums, Steven had been working on making little payments here and there, and he had previously been very easy to reach; however, at some point in early December, he stopped answering calls from the landlord.
-Monday, December 7, 2009-
Steven attends church Christmas dinner.
-Tuesday, December 8, 2009-
Steven is seen by his boss, who he works for distributing flyers. At some point, his boss gives him $100 in days before he disappears.
-Wednesday, December 9, 2009-
Steven and his sister talk, but he does not mention any travel plans.
He also attends church in St. George, Utah that night from approximately 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm.
At 10:47 pm that night, Steven talks to his dad on the phone about the rent, but Steven seems to downplay the situation, and may have even been angered by the fact that the problem had made been relayed to his parents.
-Thursday, December 10, 2009-
At some point, possibly late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning, Steven gets in his car and starts driving. By around 6:45 am, on Wednesday morning, it appears that Steven has driven approximately 302 miles and stopped to buy gas in Salt Lake City, Utah.
By 9:45 am, he has driven around 429 miles, and stops for gas in West Wendover, NV.
After around 543 miles of driving, and from noon until around 2:00 pm, Steven inexplicably stops at the house of an ex-girlfriend’s parents (she was not there) in Ruby Valley, NV, and simply visits for a couple of hours. Steven’s excuse for being in the area is that he is on his way to meet family in Sacramento (which was a lie).
At 3:44 pm, Steven speaks with his sister on the phone, and again, does not mention travelling or visiting anywhere.
By 4:40 pm, he has driven 784 miles and stops for gas in Salt Lake City, UT.
By 5:25 pm, he has driven approximately 831 miles, and according to a receipt, he stops in Springville, UT.
At 6:56 pm, Steven speaks with his mom on the phone and seems upbeat. He tells her he plans to come home for Christmas, and she tells him that she has deposited some money into his account for the rent. He never actually uses any of the money she deposits for him.
At 7:24 pm, he has driven around 831 miles, and makes a purchase in Nephi, UT.
By 11:13 pm, Steven makes it home to St. George, UT. In total, Steven appears to have driven 1,091 miles total. Google Maps estimates this trip to take around 14 hours and 44 minutes; however, with all of his stops, it takes Steven over twenty hours.
-Friday, December 11, 2009-
At around 3:00 pm, Steven is passing out flyers for his boss. He helps two children that are locked out of their house. Steven helps them look for the key and calls their mom from his cell phone for them.
-Saturday, December 12, 2009-
At 9:19 am, Steven’s cell phone pings off of a cell tower near Overton, NV which is about 1 hour and 20 minutes away from St. George, UT.
At 5:04 pm, Steven buys snacks and gas in Mesquite, NV. It appears as though he is headed back home to St. George, UT and is only 45 minutes away.
Approximately three hours later, at around 7:58 pm, Steven buys Christmas gifts from a K-Mart in St. George, UT.
From around 10:00 to 10:30 pm, neighbors report seeing Steven come home, stay for around 20-30 minutes, and then head out again. It is unknown where he was during the two hours between the purchase at K-Mart at 7:58 pm and his return home around 10:00 pm.
-Sunday, December 13, 2009-
At 7:52 am, an associate at church calls Steven and asks him to come in around 11:00 am to cover for him. Steven says that he is currently in Las Vegas, NV but can drive the two hours back, if necessary. His friend says that he, himself, was already en route from Las Vegas to St. George (hence why he was requesting coverage), and that hopefully, he would just make it in time. But either way, it wouldn’t have made sense for Steven to head back.
At 10:53 am, another person from his church calls Steven and asks him to make an announcement during the 1:00 pm church service that Steven was scheduled to officiate that day. Steven says he cannot because he is in Las Vegas.
At 11:15 am, another person from his church calls trying to get coverage for the 11:00 am meeting (the same thing the first friend was trying to get covered). Steven again tells them that he is in Las Vegas, and could not get back in time.
At 12:54 pm (or 11:54 am PST as shown on the video), Steven’s car is caught on home security footage passing the residence, and presumably, parking.
At 1:00 pm (or 12:00 pm PST as shown on the video), a male figure is seen in the residential security footage walks east on Savannah Springs Avenue and crosses to walk north on Evening Lights Street.
Another security camera also recorded the below footage, where Steven (presumably) can be viewed in the reflection of the bottom left minivan windows continuing to walk in the aforementioned direction.
Steven is never heard from or seen again after this point.
-Monday, December 14, 2009-
At 7:04 am, Steven’s phone voicemail is checked. This is the last activity on the phone.
-Tuesday, December 15, 2009-
The neighborhood HOA attempts to find the owner of Steven’s abandoned car. They call the number on the flyers Steven had been handing out (in St. George, UT) as a pile of them is visible through the car window. Steven’s boss gives them Steven’s phone number and they leave a message.
-Wednesday, December 16, 2009-
The HOA leaves Steven’s mother a message about the abandoned vehicle.
-Thursday, December 17, 2009-
Steven’s mother listens to the voicemail and reports Steven missing later the same day.
A Closer Look at the Cell Phone Evidence
- 12/12/2009 – 8:19 am : Steven’s cell phone pings off of a tower in Overton, Nevada.
- 12/12/2009 – 9:02 pm and 9:32 pm : The phone pings off of the Webb Hill tower in St. George. Steven’s voicemail is checked. The phone pings again off of the same tower around thirty minutes later.
- 12/13/2009 – 7:52 am : The phone pings off of the Pecos tower. This ping is when Steven takes the first phone call from his church associate who is requesting coverage.
- 12/13/2009 – 9:53 am : Steven’s cell phone pings off of the Bermuda/Cactus tower. He is talking to another associate at church, again explaining that he is in Las Vegas and unable to help them out.
- 12/13/2009 – 12:00 pm : Steven parks his car in the cul de sac.
12/13/2009 – 4:36 pm : The phone pings off of the Arroyo Grande/American Pacific tower. This was either a call or text from Steven’s landlord.
- 12/13/2009 – 6:58 pm : The phone pings a Whitney Ranch cell tower.
- 12/13/2009 — 6:59 pm : Steven’s cell phone hits off a tower called Henderson Store COW. A COW tower is a “portable mobile cellular site that provides temporary network and wireless coverage to locations where cellular coverage is minimal or compromised.” It appears that a call was made but the recipient is unknown.
12/14/2009 – 6:04 am and 7:04 am : The last pings on Steven’s phone occurred off of the I-515/Russell tower. It appears to have been a call, or possibly a text, to or from his landlord.
The next ping consists of the voicemail being checked at 7:04 am.
According to the cell phone pings on the 13th, Steven’s phone, at least, leaves the area where the car was abandoned and travels northeast.
The phone goes dead later on in the day but seems to stay in the area around the intersection of I-515 and Russell Road. Though Steven’s car was abandoned in an affluent retirement community, it seems as though his phone later pinged in areas with sketchier apartment complexes.
A mystery forum user, who was claiming to be a local to this area and a former prescription pill addict, described the area accordingly:
“The apartments. You have to understand. I lived in two complexes right where his phone pinged. I am not sure if the phone merely pinged or he was actively using it. It seems he was in the apartments, but there’s a chance he merely passed by. These apartments are extremely ghetto and filled with [prescription] pills. You cannot imagine.”
Details and Theories
Like other mysteries with confounding evidence, there are many interesting details, theories, and potential connections surrounding the disappearance of Steven Koecher.
The mysterious road trip that Steven conducted three days before his disappearance is one of the most perplexing aspects of his vanishing. Though he interacted with family members and church friends around the time of and after his (over 2,100 mile) road trip, Steven never mentioned travelling or any possible reason for travelling. Why did Steven drive so far to visit such random, and seemingly insignificant, places?
One of the most prevalent theories regarding Steven’s disappearance is that he decided to disappear, either by committing suicide or running away. The major source of support for this theory is that Steven was in debt and experiencing pressure financially. Members of his family have said that Steven was somewhat unhappy with his current circumstances, and have suggested that he could have been depressed.
However, the road trip and the location of Steven’s abandoned car seem to reasonably suggest that there is more to the story. Why did Steven leave his car in the retirement community in Henderson, NV on the day of his disappearance? According to the Help Us Find Steven Koecher Facebook page, Steven “had no known connection to the neighborhood where his car was found.” Steven’s car was left at “the only curbside area that’s not in front of a home, in all of Overlook Village (over 200 homes) and also within Sun City Anthem (thousands of homes).” The area was also described as “a hard-to-find spot, behind a sound wall.” How did Steven even know of this location? Furthermore, if Steven did go to the neighborhood to park his car and then commit suicide, who checked the voicemail on his phone the next morning? How did the phone travel over ten miles away and why did it go to the Whitney Ranch area? If Steven had his cell phone all night and he was wandering around, how is it that no one saw him?
Steven was employed to put fliers on vehicles for a window washing business; however, it is unclear whether the business would have serviced customers in a different state. Also, no fliers were found anywhere in the neighborhood, and “solicitation is banned” in the area.
As a devout Mormon, Steven reportedly did not use drugs or drink alcohol. There are countless theories that Steven’s road trip, and subsequent disappearance in Nevada, were related to illicit activities. However, no evidence has been revealed which supports any of these hypotheses. Also, though Steven’s car was never formally searched by law enforcement, his “family later had drug-sniffing dogs search the car, which turned up no signs of illegal drugs.” Neither Steven’s cell phone nor his computer revealed any nefarious or questionable communications; however, Steven did not have an internet connection at his rental home. He was known to have used computers at the Washington County Library, which are essentially untraceable.
The following ‘missed connection’ from Craigslist was posted in a mystery forum regarding Steven’s disappearance. It references a “Mr. Steven xxx – Black Jack expert” that the poster met at a casino on December 12, 2009- the day before Steven Koecher disappeared. The post is essentially unverifiable, and likely to be a hoax, but it is indicative of the abundance of possibilities regarding nontraditional communication that may or may not have not been searched thoroughly.
Many people seem to believe that Steven became, perhaps unknowingly, involved in some kind of money making scam or “lucrative short-term work.” This is supported by the fact that the man observed in the surveillance video leaves his car and heads out just before 12:00 noon local time, almost as if he had an appointment. It certainly seems as though the man on the video was walking to a specific house or to an unseen, waiting car.
Could Steven have been met with foul play in one of the homes? In an article which appears to be written by Steven’s father, Rolf Koecher, the following extensive search efforts are detailed.
“Police and volunteers from the Nevada Center for Missing Loved Ones simultaneously conducted a door-to-door search of the neighborhood around where my son disappeared, talking with people and leaving flyers at hundreds of homes. The next day, they did it again.”
In May 2015, Red Rock Search and Rescue coordinators organized a search for Steven employing a methodological strategy and searching higher ground for evidence of Steven. The search was described as “operating on the belief that Koecher traveled from St. George to the Las Vegas area to do harm to himself” and “as a search for someone who committed suicide.” Ultimately, the search was unsuccessful and no evidence of Steven was found.
In Lieu of Any Conclusion
Steven is remembered by others “as someone who [liked] board games, hiking and family reunions.” He was creative and loved learning to play his guitar, which his family found in his room along with his laptop and cell charger.
Steven’s mom described him as “devout to his church” and said that he “liked water sports, always taking advantage of an opportunity to go boating.”
His father, Rolf, passed away in February 2011, suddenly, but of natural causes. After Steven missed the first Christmas after his disappearance, Rolf gave the following comment:
“If he could have been there, he would have been.”
Steven is 5 foot, 10-11 inches tall. He has blonde hair and blue eyes.
If you have any information about Steven or his activities leading up to his disappearance, please contact the St. George Police Department at (435) 627-4319 or Henderson police at 702-267-5000.