BOUNTIFUL , UTAH — Due to recent widespread reports in the local and national media linking the disappearance of Susan Powell and Steven Koecher, it has become necessary to address this issue and several new developments. We have chosen to do so in conjunction with the one year anniversary of his disappearance.
On Dec. 13, 2009, Steven Koecher disappeared at almost exactly at noon in the Sun City Anthem area of Henderson, Nev., an upscale retirement community near Las Vegas. Surveillance video showed his car arriving at about six minutes to noon and parking in a small cul-de-sac. He is seen walking past the side of the home with the surveillance camera, turning left on the street in front of the house, then crossing the street and walking out of the camera’s view.
“The best evidence we have of his disappearance and the week preceding this event does not substantiate the assertions in a recently updated website,” said Rolf Koecher, Steven’s father. “Rather than giving solely our opinions, we’d prefer to focus on actual information uncovered through extensive investigations.”
The website in question, evidently by Josh and Steve Powell, husband and father-in-law, respectively, of the missing West Valley mother, Susan Powell. There are at least 11 items of evidence that cast doubt about a link to Susan Powell, especially regarding the assertion that they fled together to Brazil.
1. This contention was originally brought up by the Powell family approximately 10 months ago. Police investigators could not find a link between the two and concluded there was no evidence to support their running off together. West Valley and St. George Police met face-to-face to compare phone records, financial records and even records confidential to both investigations. They found there had been no mutual contact and no reason to believe there had ever been.
2. Police investigations covering a period of several months also concluded that Steven Koecher had not departed on a commercial flight from the Las Vegas area.
3. Steven Koecher’s missing passport, which had fueled early speculation about a possible trip to Brazil where he had been a missionary, was found in his personal effects last spring. The passport is in the possession of his parents, and it is therefore unlikely that he left the country.
4. Bank records also do not support contentions made on the Powells’ website. They show that Steven purchased gas for his vehicle at a Maverik and a Tesoro station in Salt Lake City a few days after Susan Powell disappeared, making it most likely that he purchased fuel at stations along I-15. There are no indications by the items he purchased that he ventured into West Valley, which had been an assertion made on the Powells’ website.
5. Evidence points to the conclusion that Steven’s disappearance was not a premeditated event. His cell phone charger, guitar and laptop computer — three things he routinely took with him when he would be gone for several days — were all still found in his apartment in St. George.
6. It was unlikely he was planning to flee, either alone or with someone else. In the last two conversations from Steven’s cell phone prior to noon on Dec. 13, he told the callers that he was in the Henderson, Nev., area. He also offered to return that day to St. George if needed, and he had an appointment in St. George later that same afternoon. These items indicate he was not hiding his whereabouts and his conversations revealed no extraordinary stress or other anomalies.
7. Police investigations found no evidence of drugs, gambling debts, alcohol or other personal challenges. Bank records showed no unusual or large transactions, while a one-hour inspection of his vehicle — inside and out — by a Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Department drug-sniffing dog found no drugs in the car nor evidence that the car had ever been used to transport drugs.
8. Police investigators did, however, find that Steven had been a good Samaritan on the Friday before his disappearance, helping two girls locked out of their home in the cold to find their parents. He was also a Big Brother/Big Sisters volunteer, actively serving as a Big Brother to a boy in need.
9. Records of the last entertainment items checked out by Steven show the DVDs of “Lord of the Rings” and “Seabiscuit” plus two books -- one a biography of Pistol Pete Maravich and another about the early settlers of Southern Utah. These items, too, show nothing unusual in Steven’s behavior near the time of his disappearance.
10. Steven’s ecclesiastical leaders and associates praised him as the first person to volunteer and the last to leave, and someone they respected and admired.
11. His last recorded purchase in St. George was made the night before his disappearance. It showed that he had bought four large decorative Christmas cookies and a baby bib – exactly matching the profile of his brother’s family for whom he was assigned to bring simple Christmas gifts. The cookies appeared to be for the parents and older children, while the bib appeared to match the needs of their infant daughter. They were found in Steven Koecher’s abandoned car, still undelivered.