Man's vanishing in Henderson still unsolved

BOUNTIFUL, Utah -- Members of a Bountiful family say one of their last memories of Steven Koecher was when the then-30-year-old St. George resident decorated a tree in his parents' front yard with white Christmas lights.

The lights are going on again in a ceremony this week -- but this time as a reminder of the man who disappeared Dec. 13, 2009, in Henderson almost without a trace.

"After two years and little news or updates, all we have left is hope, and the lights on this tree symbolize our hope," Dallin Koecher, Steven Koecher's younger brother, said in a statement.

The last image of the man is surveillance video from a private residence in the Sun City Anthem neighborhood of the Las Vegas suburb. Footage shows Steven Koecher walking away from his car full of wrapped Christmas gifts.

It's still a mystery why Koecher, who had worked for the Davis County Clipper newspaper and The Salt Lake Tribune's online edition before moving to southern Utah, was in Nevada.

Dallin Koecher told The Salt Lake Tribune he thinks his brother went to Nevada looking for a job. There were no signs Steven Koecher planned to leave, such as bank withdrawals or unusual cellphone calls.

Dallin Koecher said his brother was depressed but said there were no signs he was planning to commit suicide.

Relatives and friends swept through the Las Vegas area in the months after Koecher's disappearance, posting fliers and canvassing restaurants, hospitals, jails and the morgue.

Authorities used all-terrain vehicles and helicopters to search large desert areas, but nothing has turned up, and the case remains open.

"There is absolutely nothing new to help us know where our son is," said his mother, Deanne Koecher, who said her own grief was heightened this year by the loss of her husband, Rolf Koecher, and father.

Little things remind her of Steven, she said. The sound of a guitar triggers memories of her son playing. Talk of Brazil reminds her that both he and his father went on a mission there with the Mormon church.

A tree relighting ceremony is set for 7 p.m. today at Deanne Koecher's home in Bountiful. Family members are encouraging others in the Salt Lake area to decorate trees in Steven's honor.