Cold Case: 19-year-old Amber Wilde disappeared in Green Bay 25 years ago

A 19-year-old college student at UW Green Bay vanished 25 years ago this week and she’s never been heard from again.
Published: Sep. 22, 2023 at 5:59 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 22, 2023 at 6:23 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - A 19-year-old college student at UW Green Bay vanished 25 years ago this week and she’s never been heard from again.

Amber Wilde was pregnant at the time she disappeared.

Persons of interest remain but no arrests have ever been made by the police, who believe a homicide occurred.

Wilde’s family continues to hold onto the hope she will be found one day.

Family videos shared with Action 2 News depict Amber as a determined little girl who loved to spend time with family.

“Very family oriented. Always around when we have family events, kids’ birthday parties and all the holidays,” said Laurie Ehnert, Amber’s aunt.

Video shows the last Christmas Amber spent with her family before vanishing in Green Bay on September 23, 1998.

Wilde lived alone in an apartment on the east side of Green Bay. She attended classes at UW Green Bay in hopes of becoming a pediatrician.

The morning of September 23, Amber was in a minor car accident and hit her head on the windshield. She talked to her dad and told him to call her the next day to make sure everything was okay, but she never answered her dad’s calls.

“He (Amber’s dad) came up here and saw that her apartment was empty, and her car was gone,” said Detective David Graf, Green Bay Police Department.

Wilde’s family called the police but were mistakenly told to wait 48 hours to file a missing person’s report.

When the police searched her apartment, nothing seemed out of place.

“Nothing substantial was found at that time,” said Graf.

However, eight days after Amber disappeared, her car mysteriously turned up near Lambeau Field at a bar that no longer exists. In the vehicle, police found her car keys in the ash tray and her purse and cell phone in the trunk. All items’ investigators say someone would normally take with them before going anywhere.

Police also noticed her driver’s seat was pushed back all the way and the odometer registered more than 600 unexplained miles.

“I think the initial investigators might have already thought that something had happened to her already,” said Graf.

Investigators collected DNA and fingerprints from the vehicle. The evidence has been sent to crime labs while the fingerprints were entered into national databases.

Graf said as new technology arises, he resubmits evidence hoping for a hit.

“I was just going over some reports today and there’s some stuff that I might send back to the lab to have reexamined,” said Graf.

From the beginning, investigators said they had a person of interest: the father of Wilde’s unborn child.

“That was identified fairly quickly in the investigation. However, he was not real cooperative with investigators,” said Graf.

Graf said the father of Wilde’s baby was never cooperative, rather more defensive and he told police some statements they now know are lies.

“We have a lot of questions that are still unanswered,” said Graf. “Could he be able to answer them today? I hope so. That’s up to him.”

While he remains silent, Amber herself, gave the police some information through her very own diary.

“That has been fairly significant in terms of helping us recreate her last days,” said Graf.

Wilde’s aunt believes her pregnancy had something to do with her disappearance too. Ehnert said Amber wanted the baby’s father to be part of the child’s life.

“She pushed for that, and I think that’s, you know, that’s what happened,” said Ehnert. “He didn’t want her to be a part of his life anymore, but she wanted him to be, you know, for the baby’s sake.”

“Potentially could be a motive that has always been explored, but once again, I’ve learned over the years to not always say it’s one person but to be open minded and to get that real good, concrete evidence,” said Graf.

Over the last two decades, police have conducted countless digs in Shawano County they say were based on credible tips.

Each time her family was there, but each time they came up empty.

In 2017, the FBI’s behavioral analysis unit got involved in Wilde’s case.

But 25 years later, it remains unsolved.

“When you don’t have a body, it makes these investigations that much more difficult. And yes, I do truly believe she is deceased,” said Graf.

Graf also believes investigators are just one phone call away from someone who knows something that will lead them to Amber.

“She’s still missed as much as she was from day one and we’re just hoping someday that we’re going to still get answers,” said Ehnert.

If you know anything about the disappearance of Amber Wilde, contact the Green Bay Police Department at 920-448-3200. You can remain anonymous through Crimestoppers at (920) 432-STOP (7867).

It’s been 25 years since a young pregnant woman went missing in Green Bay. Here’s a look at how her family still has hope.