The editor of the Davis County Clipper, who spent the past 14 months looking for his son, died Thursday hours after being admitted to a hospital.
Rolf Koecher, 61, may have suffered from toxic shock syndrome, said Clipper owner and publisher Gail Stahle. Stahle said Koecher felt ill for days. He missed work Wednesday but hoped to return Thursday, Stahle said.
Then Koecher's wife, Deanne, called Stahle on Thursday morning to say her husband died. Deanne Koecher said her husband arrived at a hospital and doctors found he had almost no white blood cells and evidence of a bacterial infection, Stahle said.
"Deanne told me it shut down his kidneys and shut down his heart," Stahle said.
Rolf Koecher began making news himself not long after his son, Steven Koecher, went missing Dec. 13, 2009. That day, Steven Koecher, then 30, was seen in Henderson, Nev. He had been living in nearby St. George and looking for employment.
Rolf and Deanne Koecher asked for the public's help. Friends and family have searched urban Henderson and Las Vegas and the vast redrock terrain of southeast Nevada and southwest Utah multiple times since, while the Koechers have kept their son's name in the media. Stahle said two weeks ago the couple went to St. George to film a forthcoming program for the Discovery Channel.
"We wanted to know if he was OK, or in a hospital or jail, even a morgue," Rolf Koecher told The Salt Lake Tribune in November.
Rolf Koecher began working for the Davis County Clipper in the late 1990s. The newspaper is published on Thursdays and circulated in southern Davis County.
Stahle said Rolf Koecher searched for his son while running the day-to-day operations of the Clipper and serving as an LDS bishop.
Rolf Koecher admitted being frustrated by the search. Police and family have said there is no evidence Steven Koecher, who used to work for The Tribune, was the victim of foul play, but Rolf Koecher didn't believe his son would run away.
After Steven Koecher missed Christmas 2009 with his family in Bountiful, his father said: "If he could have been there, he would have been."
About the Steven Koecher case
Steven Koecher was last seen Dec. 13, 2009, in Henderson, Nev. He had been living in St. George and has lived in Davis County. He is 5 feet 11 inches tall with an average build and has blond hair and blue eyes. Anyone with information in his case can contact St. George police at 435-627-4300 or Henderson police at 702-267-5000.