Amber Wilde investigation: FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit reviewing case, offering help

Published: Mar. 3, 2017 at 5:53 AM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - A new team of experts, trained to solve complex, sensitive crimes, is now helping in the investigation surrounding the disappearance and apparent murder of Amber Wilde.

The UW-Green Bay student vanished without a trace in September of 1998.

Target 2 Investigates learned last year, through newly unsealed court documents, that the father of her unborn child, Matthew Schneider, was named a suspect in what investigators then labeled a homicide case.

Now, we've found out, a special team within the FBI has taken an interest in the case.

Green Bay Police detectives hope it could take their case to a new level.

They've worked with several local, state and even federal investigators over the years, but this is new.

This month, the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit, or BAU, reviewed Amber Wilde's case.

The team may sound familiar because it's at the center of the popular TV show, Criminal Minds, which profiles suspects to help solve crimes.

The real BAU team is not like Hollywood portrays it, but Green Bay Police are optimistic about what these experts can offer.

"It was very helpful. We're still working on things they suggested," says Green Bay Police Detective Lee Kingston.

He and Detective Dave Graf have poured over thousands of reports, documents and interviews in Amber Wilde's file since being assigned the case nearly five years ago.

Since then, they've followed countless leads, but all have turned up empty.

Then this month came a turn of events when they were able to contact the BAU and the team agreed to review the case.

"That's where a lot of our follow up now is coming from, just different ideas and different thoughts on their end of things to tie up," says Kingston.

The detectives agree their case is mostly circumstantial since Amber's body has never been found, but the BAU is giving them new avenues to explore, though they can't say exactly what.

"Do you want to take this to the next level? Well you should do this, this and this type of thing in terms of identifying certain individuals that we should talk to again," says Graf.

"Experience is on their part. Hey, I had a case kind of something like this in the past and this is what we did. Try this. Try that," adds Kingston.

The BAU agents look at cases from a different perspective, analyzing behavior, motivations, and the why.

They can also look at it from a prosecutor's perspective.

"What can we do to help the district attorney make a better, more informed decision in the future?" says Graf.

Amber's car, the biggest piece of evidence found since her disappearance, is now added to her profile on ViCAP, the Violent Criminal Apprehension Program. It's information put into the hands of law enforcement across the country.

The detectives are convinced these efforts will help find their missing link.

"There are people out there, I do believe, that have information. It's just a matter, obviously they don't want to provide information because it could potentially incriminate them. Who's to say? But it's been a long enough time that they have to be very disciplined not to talk to somebody else," says Graf.

Amber's family has been holding out hope for nearly 18 years that a break will finally come.

This is giving them renewed optimism.

"We need that once in a while, just to know that something is being done. You don't hear anything for quite a few months, and then something like this comes along, and it's like, yes! Yes! This could be it! Maybe this'll be the stepping stone we need and get us somewhere with this," says Laurie Ehnert, Amber's aunt.

As detectives follow up on the ideas BAU gave them, they're still asking anyone, with even the smallest detail, to call them.

You can call Green Bay Police at (920) 448-3205 or contact Crime Stoppers at (920) 432-STOP.