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Target 2 Investigates: Detectives 'so close' to solving Amber Wilde mystery

(WBAY)
Published: Sep. 25, 2018 at 9:40 PM CDT
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On Sept. 23, 1998, a 19-year-old UW-Green Bay student got into a minor car accident. The student, who was a little over four months pregnant, called her family to tell them she was OK.

That's the last time anyone would hear from Amber Wilde.

Although it's been two decades since Amber's disappearance, police continue to receive tips. It gives the family a little hope that they will get answers.

Detectives believe they will find answers that will crack the case open.

HOLDING ONTO HOPE

Every Sept. 23, Amber Wilde's family and friends gather to remember Amber and hope this year will be the one they get some answers.

"You get your hopes up. You try not to, but you know what, there is no way that you cannot. I don't know anybody that could do that. I've tried," says Laurie Ehnert, Amber Wilde's aunt.

They release balloons toward heaven.

"We've had so many ups and downs through the years," Ehnert says.

Twenty years has taken its toll.

"I think maybe part of that is because our memories are still so fresh. You can still picture her face, and you know, hear her voice and stuff, I guess," Ehnert says.

Green Bay Police Detectives Lee Kingston and Dave Graf took over the Amber Wilde case five years ago.

"We remain so close.. so close. We have our ideas and our thoughts, but we need a little bit more," Kingston tells Target 2 Investigates.

Kingston says he thinks investigators are very close to cracking the case. It's now a matter of "one little piece."

"WE'VE BEEN LIED TO"

"There's been phone warrants. There's been search warrants. There's been some evidence resubmitted to the crime labs," Kingston says.

Warrants unsealed in 2016 revealed Amber Wilde's unexpected pregnancy as a motive in the case. Those documents identified a main person of interest as the father of the unborn child, Matthew Schneider.

Detective Graf says communication with Schneider and those close to him has proven to be difficult.

"At this point and time, they still haven't provided answers to our questions about what they were doing that day and the days after," Graf says. "And answers they did give 20 years ago, we know some of them are not true, and they never bothered to provide the actual truth."

How do the detectives know the statements are untrue? Witness statements from multiple people.

"We know we've been lied to," Graf tells Action 2 News. "How do you make somebody account for that? That's the frustration that we're having."

Graf continues, "I can't make somebody talk to us."

MORE THAN ONE PERSON INVOLVED?

Amber Wilde's car mysteriously appeared at a bar near Lambeau Field eight days after she vanished. It had 600 unexplained miles. Amber's purse and cell phone were in the trunk. The key was in the ignition. The driver's seat was pushed all the way back. It's an unusual position for someone like Amber who was only 5'5" tall.

Graf and Kingston believe more than one person is responsible for Amber's disappearance.

Subpoenas reveal the court held a secret hearing, also known as a John Doe hearing, in which Matthew Schneider's close friend was ordered to provide a statement. Nick Petit said "he could not remember what he did that night." However, he did say he was "most likely not home."

Neither Petit or Schneider have been charged in the case.

"We continue to look through it to see if there's something we haven't done or have missed," Kingston says.

The FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit has helped lead detectives out of state to talk with more people.

"I think there's other people that know too, that could be a hero and come forward and help, not just us, but Amber's family," Graf says.

Police say they continue to receive good leads as a result of TV crime shows generating national attention.

Officers will only say they're closely looking at one particular tip.

"I think in the back of your mind, you still have that hope in there and you just can't get away from that," Laurie Ehnert says.

If you have any information on the disappearance of Amber Wilde, contact law enforcement. If you'd like to remain anonymous, leave your tip with Crime Stoppers.

TARGET 2 INVESTIGATES REPORTS ON AMBER WILDE CASE