McEntee: Salt Lake Tribune friends recall Steven Koecher
Steven Koecher is known as a quiet man, a get-down-to-business guy who worked the overnight shift at The Tribune for more than a year, keeping our website up to date.
He was neither demonstrative nor impulsive, friends here at the newspaper say.
"He really struck me as totally chill," says Erin Alberty, who got to know Koecher during her shifts as a late-night police reporter.
"He wasn't super happy, chipper, bubbly," she says. "But he was not unhappy."
Koecher has been missing since Dec. 13, 2009. He'd been living in St. George and was last seen on a surveillance camera in Henderson, Nev. No one, not family or friends, has heard from him since.
That puzzles Alberty, because Koecher "absolutely adored his mom. She was so smart, so kind. He said so, so many good things about his mom.
"The way he talks about his mom, it makes me think he wouldn't do anything to himself," she says.
Koecher was a devoted Mormon who served his mission in Brazil, as his late father, Rolf, had done. Then in his mid-20s, he worried that he hadn't gotten married yet, Alberty says.
"The dating scene here, when you're Mormon and 27, it's hard to find a girl your own age," she says.
Kim McDaniel, the Tribune's social media coordinator, trained Koecher to do the paper's work until well past midnight. He was a quiet guy, "willing to do anything for anybody," she says.
"Not an overtly demonstrative personality, but he had a really dry sense of humor," she says. "When you least expect it, he'd crack a punchline that would just break up the room."
McDaniel agrees with Alberty that Koecher lived his faith. "He never even said so much as 'heck,' as far as I can remember."
Predictably, rumors about what happened to Koecher have been circulating ever since he went missing. The case remains open with the St. George and Henderson police departments, but there have been no leads or evidence of foul play.
It's almost impossible to imagine what his mother, Deanne, has endured. Her son is still missing, and Rolf, editor of the Davis County Clipper, died in February. But her family, always close, has grown even closer.
As a mother, I cannot conceive of losing my child. It's simply unthinkable. My daughter told me once of being beset by a gas station attendant late one night, but she got away. My heart froze, then I thanked the powers that be and her ability to think fast enough to get away.
As one mother to another, I hope that this Christmas, Steven finds his way home.
Peg McEntee is a news columnist. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org and facebook.com/pegmcentee.