* July 24. It's a Thursday. Amy Bechtel is last seen at the Camera Connection in Lander around 2:30 p.m. Her husband, Steve Bechtel, calls a friend at 4:30 p.m. and reports having returned home to Lander from a trip to Dubois. Around 10:30 p.m., the Fremont County Sheriff's Office is notified that Amy Bechtel is missing.

* July 25. Around 1 a.m., Steve Bechtel's friends find her car, a white Toyota Tercel wagon, parked on the Burnt Gulch Road turnoff in the mountains above Lander, where she reportedly was to go running. Deputies get to the scene an hour later, and by 3 a.m., a major search is on, with more and more people coming to the Loop Road scene to look.

* July 26. Search-and-rescue teams using dogs, two private helicopters and at least 100 volunteers search the area.

* July 27. The sheriff's office takes an average 1,000 calls an hour, and expands the search area to a 20- to 30-mile radius of the car. A hand-held infrared detection device is flown in from Cheyenne, and a helicopter from F.E. Warren Air Force Base joins the search.

* July 28. About 80 searchers comb the area around Frye, Fiddler's and Louis lakes on horseback and all-terrain vehicles. A helicopter from the Bureau of Indian Affairs joins the search, along with a dozen four-wheel all-terrain vehicles. Heavy rains hamper progress.

* July 29. Authorities begin to consider the possibility of foul play and discuss expanding the search to include places where a body could possibly be hidden, such as caves, old cabins, mines and culverts.

* July 30. Duplicates of Amy Bechtel's shoes and clothing are ordered to aid searchers. Posters of Bechtel and her description, as well as yellow ribbons, are hung around the region. Investigators say they found a footprint that may have matched Bechtel's shoe east of where Bechtel's car was found.

* July 31. Reporters are told the area is now considered a crime scene, and the search for Bechtel is scaled back as the possibility of foul play becomes more likely. The command post, stationed on the Loop Road, is moved to the sheriff's office, to centralize efforts. Some 25 agents from the FBI and state Department of Criminal Investigation join the investigation.

* Aug. 1. The FBI blocks off both ends of the Loop Road. Motorists must check in before they can drive through. Around this time, Steve Bechtel cuts short an interview with county and FBI investigators after an agent reportedly accuses him of killing Amy. According to Steve, the FBI agent said, "`I have evidence that proves you killed Amy, and we would like to have you take a polygraph test right now to prove that you didn't.'" Steve retains Jackson lawyer Kent Spence, son of famed defense lawyer Gerry Spence, to represent his interests in the investigation. Spence advises Steve against taking a polygraph, as investigators, and Amy's parents and brother, have implored him to do.

* Aug. 5. Checkpoints are in place at the forest's entrances to contact anyone who might have been in the forest when Bechtel disappeared.

* Aug. 6. Steve Bechtel's home and pickup truck are searched by Fremont County authorities who need DNA samples of Amy's, such as hair and toenails. Officials are also looking for additional items that may result in new clues, such as a diary.

* Aug. 7. The Bechtels' friends and family distribute missing person posters to national parks, hundreds of truck stops nationwide, and every chamber of commerce in Wyoming. Steve Bechtel's attorney, Kent Spence, criticizes the search of Bechtel's property, calling agents' behavior "aggressive" and "insulting."

* Aug. 20. Fremont County Sheriff Larry Mathews said the search of the Bechtels' home yielded little to help in the search for Bechtel, and that much of the evidence collected was taken only in case it is needed to help identify a body.

* Aug. 23. Sheriff's officials say the investigation is nearing the "saturation point" locally. Pictures are requested from NASA from the Russian space station Mir, which was believed to have snapped a shot of the area the day Bechtel disappeared.

* Sept. 11. Reported sightings of Amy continue to pour in from across the country, including in Ralston, Texas; Wisconsin; New Mexico; Salt Lake City, and Colorado Springs. Investigators say they are no closer to finding Amy Bechtel than they were the day she vanished.

* Sept. 28. A 10K race for Amy takes place on the Loop Road. Investigators are also searching for Kelly McLoud, who was allegedly known to follow and call Amy Bechtel before she moved to Lander.

* Oct. 25. A search of old mine shafts in the Atlantic City area fails to turn up new clues.


* Jan. 21. Investigators learn they won't get images from Mir, as the weather dashed chances of getting a worthwhile photo.

* Feb. 3. Amy's sisters, Casey Lee and Jenny Newton, join investigator King as guests on the "Geraldo Rivera Show," during which Rivera issues an on-air plea to Steve Bechtel to further cooperate with authorities. Meanwhile, the reward offered through the Amy Wroe Bechtel Recovery Fund has doubled, to $100,000, and a pledge drive is planned to try and raise between $250,000 and $500,000 for the fund.

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* Feb. 19. Suffering altitude sickness, Steve Bechtel is rescued by helicopter from the Wind River Mountains.

* March 15. An Oregon jail inmate, Kelly McLoud, is ruled out as a suspect. McLoud knew Amy Bechtel when she worked in a Laramie coffee shop.

* March 23. People magazine features the story of the disappearance and runs several photographs of Amy.

* March 31. Two people in Sarasota, Fla., who read the People magazine story, claim to have seen a barefoot woman they believe is Amy Bechtel standing in a parking lot there on a rainy day in February.

* June 17-21. Searchers from the Fremont County Sheriff's Office, the FBI and Fremont County Search and Rescue combine training with a renewed effort to find Amy Bechtel. For the first time, scuba divers search Frye Lake, to no avail.


* April 16. Amy's disappearance is featured on the CBS TV program "Unsolved Mysteries."

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* Nov. 3. Dave King, who had been elected Fremont County sheriff in 1998, resigns. He's later convicted of stealing cocaine from an evidence locker and receives a suspended prison sentence.


* January. Amy's father, Duane Wroe, dies at the Powell hospital at the age of 71.

* July. Amy's mother, JoAnne Wroe, travels from Powell to Lander to share magazine clippings, videos and other information with investigator Roger Rizor. Wroe hears, for the first time, a recording of the call Steve Bechtel placed to authorities to report his wife's disappearance.

"I was very surprised by what I heard," Wroe says, "and I wasn't too pleased with what I heard, because Steve was so casual about stating that Amy was missing, and he really didn't say who she was or anything. He just said, 'Uh, yeah, hey, I've got a person missing here I think and I wondered if you had a spare around anyplace.'"


* March 22. An exclusive, private group of crime-solving experts called the Vidocq Society agrees to help investigate Amy's disappearance.


* Summer. Steve Bechtel remarries.


* Feb. 4. Amy's family turns over money from the recovery fund to provide scholarships at the University of Wyoming and Northwest College.

Source: Star-Tribune archives

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