Amy Wroe Bechtel disappearance takes new turn; Prime suspect on Wyoming’s Death Row

Amy Wroe Bechtel
Amy Wroe Bechtel (file photo) 

By Ernie Over, managing editor,

(Lander, Wyo.) – A national cable television show that aired in January did not bring in as many tips on the disappearance of then 24-year-old Amy Wroe Bechtel of Lander as was hoped, an investigator said today. “We only received a couple new tips after the Investigation Discovery channel show was broadcast, including one from Georgia,” said Fremont County Sheriff’s Detective John Zerga. But Zerga also said a tip received last summer may be the break in the case he was hoping for.

Bechtel disappeared the afternoon of July 24, 1997 while checking out the route of a 10K race she was planning along the Loop Road in the Shoshone National Forest above Lander. An exhaustive weeks-long search of the Loop Road and environs failed to find any evidence of the petite runner, who starred as a University of Wyoming track athlete. She was waiting tables at the former Sweetwater Grill in Lander at the time of her disappearance.

But Zerga said a man already on death row at the Wyoming State Penitentiary in Rawlins has become a focus of the investigation.

“The brother of Dale Wayne Eaton told us this past summer that he was in the area at the time Amy disappeared,” Zerga said. “He told us that Eaton told family members that he was going fishing at some beaver ponds in the Wind Rivers at a spot where they always set up their elk camp, in Burnt Gulch. He was also specific as to the time when Eaton said he would be there.” Zerga said Eaton’s brother “swears up and down that he was camped up there when she disappeared.”

Dale Wayne Eaton
Dale Wayne Eaton (

“If he was up there, I have no doubt he was involved,” Zerga said. But the sheriff’s department detective also said Eaton has been uncooperative. “We’re going back down there (Rawlins) in a few weeks to talk to him again.”

Eaton was given a death sentence on his conviction of the kidnapping, rape and murder of college co-ed Lisa Marie Kimmell of Billings in July of 1989 near Casper. In 2002 after DNA sampling connected Eaton to the crime, Kimmel’s car was found buried on his property at Moneta in Eastern Fremont County still bearing its iconic “Lil Miss” Montana license plates.

In one other lead lead in the local case, Zerga said Sheriff’s investigators and Shoshone National Forest personnel were led to several locations along the Loop Road this past October by a psychic who claimed that she and two other psychics had “felt” were connected to Bechtel’s disappearance. “But the ground was frozen there, and there was a snow cover, so we plan to return this spring with cadaver dogs to check the locations that were pinpointed,” he said. “I don’t believe in psychics but we’re following every lead we get. We do what we can, try what we can to solve this.”



36 thoughts on “Amy Wroe Bechtel disappearance takes new turn; Prime suspect on Wyoming’s Death Row”

  1. I remember Dale Eaton from when he was little kid as we all went to school with them. I didn't make a connection with his name until I was told on Remembering Meeker. Pretty shocking to know you knew a person that could this.

  2. I guess I'm out of the loop but how in the world has this taken so long? Why weren't the people who stated they hit her with their car ever made as suspects?

  3. If there's any truth to this, and Eaton is responsible for Amy's disappearance, hopefully no evidence was lost when Lisa Kimmel's family burned his property to the ground in 2005. Zerga needs to be making a trip to Moneta to search for clues before he starts going on a wild goose chase with some psychics. He might be able to find tangible evidence and not just take a nature walk looking for some "feelings."

  4. This case has been haunting since I read about it in Runner's World in 1997. I pray there is a resolution not only for her family, but her friends and those affected by Amy's disappearance. In regards to Eaton, his silence speaks volumes. He is either hoping to parlay what he knows into a life sentence (over the death sentence) or he is just a vindictive person. Or potentially both. God Bless and Keep Amy Bechtel.

  5. He may deserve to die, but if he did have something to do with Amy's disappearance, the information will die with him.

  6. To all the young women, please do your best to protect yourselves against these MURDERING PREDATORS. Try to stay out of forest and secluded areas by yourself because that is where these COWARDS hide. Any man who abducts a woman is nothing but a COWARD!!!

  7. I just watched Disappeared. I really wish they wld find this girl so her family can have some type of closure. I cannot fathom how horrible it must be to have a child disappear and never know what happened. Prayers ~

  8. Any potential suspect in any murder investigation is better alive then dead as all real investigators know already. He will delay the death penalty just by never speaking at all

  9. u sound like the dumbest redneck in the world matt. You may be right, they may find nothing but you would burn someone's house down also if your daughter or sister was killed, or better yet, you are total redneck, u would probably just kill the guy, then nothing would ever be resolved!
    And what harm comes from trying to search further in any new areas in those mountains, no matter where the tips came from, we all know she is somewhere buried in WY , go clean up, you give WY a bad name!

  10. if he never speaks they will keep him alive as a potential suspect in any murders including this one, and i am sure he knows that and will say as little as possible about anything EVER!

  11. Strange how a husband can call 911 and sound like he has literally no emotions whatsoever. Just a strange case. If he is innocent why not cooperate with police? Why not think about Amy instead of yourself? Selfish

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