LAS VEGAS — The latest search effort for Steven Koecher ended Saturday with no trace of the missing Utah man and only more unanswered questions.
About 30 people, all close family and friends, spent two days riding buses, watching crowds at public places and scouring homeless shelters in an effort to find any lead that could finally bring closure to a family whose son disappeared on Dec. 13.
A photo of Koecher, 30, sparked the memory of one bus driver who said a man who looked like Koecher asked him about jobs with the bus service. But the tip, like so many others, led nowhere, Koecher's mother said Saturday.
Deanne Koecher said although the search turned up no new leads, it helped raise awareness to a new level.
"A lot of the searchers were approached on the street by people who asked, 'Are you looking for that missing man?' " she said. "We were encouraged by the concern."
Many Las Vegas residents offered to take fliers to their friends, church members and other acquaintances, said Steven's father, Rolf Koecher.
"(We were) gratified by the spontaneous outpouring of support among local residents as well as the help of those who traveled many miles to assist in the search effort," Rolf Koecher wrote in a statement Saturday.
The search covered homeless shelters, a swap meet along Las Vegas Boulevard, passengers at the Downtown Transit Center, as well as bus lines in areas where people had reported unconfirmed sightings of Steven Koecher.
The groups divided into teams of two or more people for the search.
A St. George resident, Steven Koecher was last seen on surveillance cameras in Henderson, Nev., at noon on Dec. 13. Family members say they do not know why he was in the area, but he reportedly told friends he was going there for a job interview.
His car was found abandoned in a cul-de-sac in Henderson where a home security camera captured the video, and all cell phone, texting, e-mail and financial records ended that same weekend, said Rolf Koecher.
The last organized group effort was a search of the desert near Henderson in April.
The months since her son disappeared have been a roller-coaster ride, Deanne Koecher said.
When officials found a body during a fireworks show in St. George, family members called police but were eventually informed that the body was that of another man.
"We followed lead after lead, only to find they lead to nothing," she told the Deseret News.
The Koechers, who live in Bountiful, say they are not sure of the next step, but the search is not over.
"We are not ready to give up, but we have to regroup," Deanne Koecher said. "We will do whatever it takes if we think there is a credible reason."
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