HENDERSON, Nev. (KLAS) — “I can’t forget that,” the person believed to be among the last to see Steven Koecher alive said about their conversation with the missing man 13 years later.
Koecher, 30, was living in St. George, Utah, at the time of his 2009 disappearance. On Dec. 13, a surveillance camera captured Koecher driving into an Anthem retirement community. Minutes later, Steven walks past several houses before moving out of view.
The timestamp on the video puts Koecher driving down Savannah Springs Avenue at 11:54 a.m. At the strike of noon, one camera catches Koecher walking eastbound on Savannah Springs before turning onto Evening Lights Street.
Between 11:54 a.m. and noon, Koecher spoke to the neighbor who, for the first time, is publicly speaking about that conversation. The neighbor requested the 8 News Now Investigators conceal their identity as suspects in Koecher’s disappearance and presumed death have not been identified nor arrested.
“I need money,” is what the neighbor remembers Koecher saying to them after they opened the door.
As the 8 News Now Investigators reported last month, Koecher was 3 months, or $1,500, behind in rent at the time of his disappearance, records said. Money from his family, meant to help pay the rent, went undeposited, records showed.
In the days before his disappearance, financial statements put Koecher in St. George; then Washington, Utah; then Mesquite, Overton and finally the Las Vegas valley.
On the day of his disappearance, records show Koecher was in the Las Vegas valley for several hours before ultimately parking his car at the end of Savannah Springs Avenue and walking toward his destination, which is unknown.
“I didn’t see him coming out from the car,” the neighbor said.
In those six minutes between the time Koecher parked his car and he appears on video walking out of view, he rang the neighbor’s doorbell. By the time the neighbor got to the door, Steven was walking on the other side of the street.
“I need money,” the neighbor said he remembered Koecher saying. “There’s no walkway on the other side, but he is walking on the side that doesn’t have the walkway. I just shut the door and that’s the last that I saw him.”
Police found Koecher ’s car abandoned days after his disappearance. Inside the car, they found gifts for his family, frozen food, a pillow and a blanket – items his family and the private investigators reveal Koecher intended to return to his vehicle.
There is no record of why Koecher ended up in Anthem.
With no new clues into what happened to Koecher, a team from Utah-based EyesOn Private Investigations is working to find answers.
“He didn’t have any money, so he couldn’t afford to drive back and forth, so he is doing something for someone,” Kevin Wyatt, principal at EyesOn, said.
The private investigators believe Koecher’s conversation with the neighbor may have led to a fatal mistake.
“I think he went to the home that he was supposed to go to and actually says, ‘Oh, kind of funny, I told the guy and asked him if he wanted some money,’” Wyatt said. “I think that’s what resulted in Steven’s disappearance — was that error.”
A police report indicates officers interviewed one neighbor after Koecher’s disappearance. Police said the neighbor appeared “nervous when contacted and while being questioned about Koecher’s disappearance,” documents said. The person said they did not recognize Koecher, had no friends and did “not trust anyone due to the drug lifestyle that people tend to have.”
Police have not named that person as a suspect nor have officers charged him or her with a crime.
Another neighbor told police shortly after Koecher’s disappearance that another neighbor moved out of the neighborhood on the same day. When police attempted to talk to the resident, they noticed there was no furniture in the house, a report said.
The private investigators also obtained photos from a home in the neighborhood taken shortly after Koecher’s disappearance, which show several holes in the walls and other damage. It is the same property the men suspect Steven was heading in those last moments caught on video.
“We have photos of a room that was destroyed at about the same time,” Berk said. “Is that based on a struggle and a fight and a death? Is it based on a struggle, a fight and a kidnapping? Is it based on somebody who is just mad? I don’t know.”
Because Koecher disappeared 13 years ago, many of the neighbors who owned homes and who spoke to police in those days and months after Koecher’s disappearance are no longer there.
One day after video captured what are believed to be Steven’s final moments alive, someone called Koecher’s voicemail box from his cellphone, records showed. The cellphone signal then continued to ping off a tower near U.S. 95 and Russell Road for three days until the device died.
Both St. George police and Henderson police are investigating the case. Neither department has arrested anyone nor has either department filed charges or named any person of interest in Koecher’s disappearance.
The private investigators suspect Koecher is deceased and buried in the Las Vegas valley.
However small, the neighbor hopes that short conversation may help locate Koecher.
“I’m prepared to help the family however I can put the closure on this story,” the neighbor said.
Tips can be submitted anonymously through Crime Stoppers by calling 702-385-5555 or at crimestoppersofnv.com/report-a-crime. Information can also be sent via text by sending “CRIMENV” and then your message to “CRIMES” (274637). Crime Stoppers offers a reward for information that leads to an arrest.