Family Photo
Steven Koecher

He's been missing almost as long as Susan Powell, under circumstances just as mysterious.

But the story hasn't made it to the "Today" show. It's barely been covered locally.

Part of that can be attributed to the fact that he went missing in Las Vegas, a place where people go to get lost on purpose. It also doesn't help that he is single or that no real alarm was raised for four days until his abandoned car was found and the trail was already growing cold.

But the fact remains that no one has seen Steven Koecher, 30, since Sunday, Dec. 13. And despite the efforts of three police departments (in Las Vegas; Henderson, Nev.; and St. George), Koecher's numerous friends and extensive extended family, and a congregation-wide fast last Sunday at Koecher's parents' LDS ward in Bountiful, so far no one has a clue why.

There were no indicators in his life that would cause him to cut and run, say those closest to him. He didn't seem depressed. He had no addiction problems. No massive debt. Nothing to hide and nothing to hide from.

He is a college graduate with a major in communication from the University of Utah, a returned LDS missionary who served in Brazil, an Eagle Scout who loves to play the guitar and wakeboard, and would be married by now if he could just find the right girl.

He moved to St. George last spring to look for work. He'd had a job in Salt Lake City at the Salt Lake Tribune, on its online edition, but didn't like working nights. All he'd been able to find in southern Utah was part-time work as a window washer. He rented a room, joined an LDS singles ward, volunteered for service projects, signed up as a Big Brother and talked regularly to his mom (Deanne), dad (Rolf) and four brothers and sisters.

The last act of record he did in St. George was at 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12, at Kmart, where he bought Christmas gifts for his brother Matthew's family.

It's not known if he traveled to Henderson, just outside Las Vegas about two hours from St. George, Saturday or Sunday. But on two cell phone calls with members of his St. George ward Sunday morning, he said that's where he was. The people he talked with reported he was upbeat and not at all evasive. In hindsight, they wish they had asked why he was there.

His car, a white 2003 Chevy Cavalier, was found on Thursday, Dec. 17, parked in a cul de sac in an upscale 55-plus retirement community in Henderson. It had been there since Sunday, neighbors said. A nearby resident, a retired U.S. marshal, has a video surveillance system that is on around the clock. On videotape, Steven, wearing a dress shirt and tennis shoes, can be seen purposely walking away from the cul de sac just before noon on a clear, sunny Sunday morning.

He hasn't been seen since. His credit and debit cards have not been used, nor has his cell phone.

Back in St. George, his clothes hang neatly in the closet. His laptop, guitar and cell phone charger are right were he left them.

At first, police were hesitant to take the disappearance too seriously, no matter how hard Rolf and Deanne stressed Steven's clean reputation.

Only after the family took the lead did the investigation find legs. Last week, police mounted a full-scale search in Henderson, including helicopters, ATVs, search dogs and door-to-door canvassing. As of this week, Steven Koecher's picture is in every cop car in Las Vegas and Henderson.

There was one incident that told the police volumes about what kind of person they're looking for.

It happened when Steven's cell phone records were searched.

Every call was easily identified, except one. When that number was called, the man who answered said he had never heard of Steve Koecher and had no idea why he would call his wife's cell phone.

As the man was talking, one of his young daughters, overhearing the conversation, interrupted.

"Maybe that's the guy that helped us," she said.

It turned out that on the day before he disappeared, Steven had been distributing fliers for his window-washing business when he came across two young girls who couldn't get in their house. Workers had apparently taken the spare key under the doormat, and the girls were locked out in the chilly December air.

Steven helped them look for the key and then pulled out his cell phone and said he'd call their mother, who didn't answer, after which he tried to find a neighbor's place where they could get warm.

About that time, someone came who could let the girls in, and Steven went on his way.

"That's our Steven," says his distressed mother. "That's what's driving us crazy."

If you have any information that might help the investigation, please contact St. George police at 435-627-4300 or Henderson police at 702-267-5000. More details can be found on "Help Us Find Steven Koecher" on Facebook.

Lee Benson's column runs Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Please send e-mail to benson@desnews.com