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Episode 89

MISSING–Kristin Smart and Amber Wilde

May 10, 2021   Tags: , , ,
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Billy and Paul interview Chris Lambert from Your Own Backyard podcast about the latest in the Kristin Smart case. Then they delve into a missing case with a similar line of investigation. 19-year-old Amber Wilde disappeared from her apartment in Green Bay, WI on the evening of September 23rd, 1998. When police begin looking into the missing person case, they find out Amber was pregnant and uncover secrets in her diary. 

Before Amber's Disappearance:
19-year-old Amber Wilde wanted to be a pediatrician. And she was driven. After she graduated high school in 1997, she attended community college, earning an associates degree in just one year. Then she transferred to the University of Wisconsin Green Bay to study pre-med. 

In May of 1998, Amber attended a house party. The next day she told her aunt about a guy she met. Amber described the man as “burly.” He was a 6’5” construction worker. The two hit it off. According to her family, they were “hot and heavy” for about four months. 

Then in the early Fall of 1998, Amber moved to an apartment in Green Bay. She was ready for the semester to begin at school. But there was also a new development in her life. Amber was pregnant. 

Amber had a plan. Her family was supportive about the new baby. She and her aunt had already worked out a schedule. Her aunt was going to look after the baby while Amber continued to go to classes.

There was one hiccup in the plan---the man Amber claimed was the baby’s father--the 6’5” construction worker. His name was Matthew Schnieder. He was actually a 21-year-old surveyor with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. When Amber told him about the pregnancy, he wasn’t nearly as supportive as her family. 

Amber's Disappearance:
On September 23rd, Amber was in a minor car accident.  She rear ended someone near school. Amber hit her head on the windshield. She went to the University medical center because she had a headache. 

The medical center told her she probably had a concussion. Since she lived alone, she needed someone to call and check on her. When she got home, she called her dad Steve.  They talked repeatedly throughout the rest of the day. At 7:16 PM, they spoke on landline in her apartment. Steve said he would call in the morning and make sure she was up for class.

Then apparently Amber left her apartment. Though it’s unclear exactly why. A source in the Green Bay Gazette said the other person involved in the accident had called to discuss damages. But it could have been someone else. Whoever it was managed to get Amber to leave her apartment. 

Steve began calling Amber in the morning. She had a 1 PM class. He wanted to see how she was feeling and make sure she was ready for class. She didn’t answer. He tried again. Still no answer. He called several more times--all to no answer. Steve decided to drive the ninety minutes to check on his daughter. 

When he arrived at the apartment on August Street, the door was locked. He had a key and let himself in. Steve looked around. Nothing looked suspicious, but he noticed Amber’s car wasn’t at the apartment. At this point Amber hadn’t just missed class, she’d also missed an optometrist appointment. It was unlike her. She would never disappear without telling anyone.

Steve called the police to report Amber missing. He stressed she would not leave without telling him. They told Steve he had to wait 48 hours before he could report her missing. So he waited while still trying to reach and find his daughter. 

On October 1st, police located Amber’s Subaru--with damage to the front end. It had been left unlocked with the keys in the ignition abandoned in a parking lot. The parking lot belonged to the 50 Yard Line Sports Bar and the Roadstar Inn. It was across the street from the Lambeau Field, the famous home of the Green Bay Packers’

The car was searched. Amber’s purse was found locked in the trunk. It was a movement she usually did, but she wouldn’t have left the purse behind. Her cell phone was left plugged into the cigarette lighter up front. 

The driver’s seat piqued the interest of investigators. Amber was only 5’5”. She usually had the seat pushed forward, under the steer wheel. But when the car was found the seat was pushed all the way back. There were also 900 miles unaccounted for. 


The Investigation:
Investigators went through Amber’s diary. Inside she detailed her relationship with Matt in detail. The repeated entries made it clear this was not a one night stand. She wrote about the night they met in two entries on May 20th and May 21st. She said it was a houseparty, just like she’d told her aunt. In her diary though, she discussed the fact they went back to her place and had consensual sex. 

In an entry dated August 23rd, she wrote about the pregnancy. She had already told Matt. She wanted him to tell his fiance. He refused. So, according to her diary, she took matters into her own hands. She spoke with Heidi and told her she was pregnant with Matt’s child. 

According to her diary, she’d also written a letter to Matt’s mom telling her about the pregnancy. Now his fiance and his parents knew the secret he was hoping to keep. According to Amber Matt was furious. He told his fiancé and family that Amber was lying. 

Investigators went to speak with Matt. He told detectives he’d only talked to Amber twice. He repeatedly told the police he never had sex with her. Beyond his complete denial of the relationship, he showed “no concern” when he was informed that Amber was missing. 

While the police were talking to Matt, they also met his friend and co-worker Nick Petit. Nick said his girlfriend had seen Amber. She was driving her silver Subaru in Wausau. Wausau was over 90 miles from Green Bay. But Nick described the car in detail. At that moment it seemed legit to the police because they hadn’t released any information on Amber’s car yet. 

By the end of 1999, the state of Wisconsin resorted to a John Doe hearing. It’s a hearing that allows law enforcement to subpoena and question people under oath. It’s similar to a grand jury hearing but is only heard by a judge not a jury. 

The hearing unearthed new versions of events. Nick now said he “most likely was not home that night, “ but that he had no concrete memory of what he’d done that evening or where he’d done it. 

Heidi, Matt’s fiance, also testified at the hearing. She couldn’t remember what Matt did that night. Part of the questioning was also about Nick and Matt’s relationship. When asked how close the two men were, she responded with Nick was going to be an usher at their wedding. 

That year the police searched around 30 acres of neighboring rural Portage County. In Spring 2001, they searched a field near the Highway 29, where Matt was working at the time of Amber's disappearance. 

Currently, the detectives in the case believe they are extremely close to solving Amber’s case which is considered a homicide investigation. They feel like they are just missing “one little piece.” Detective Graf believes that if this case goes to trial, Amber will be her own “star witness”---via her diary.

ASSIGNMENT:
19-year-old Amber Wilde last spoke to her father around 7:15 PM on the evening of September 23rd, 1998. It’s not clear why she left her apartment on August Street that evening, but she never returned. At the time of her disappearance, she was 5’5”, between 135 to 150 pounds. She has brown eyes and straight brown hair longer than her shoulders. She had eight small gold hoop earrings in each ear. She was 4 and half months pregnant. 

When she left her apartment, she was most likely in her silver 1988 GL 4-door Subaru. It’s not clear if she was driving or if someone else was. The car had a brown stuffed monkey hanging from the rearview mirror. The back window of the car had stuffed animals. The top of the back window had a University of Wisconsin decal. If you saw this car anytime between September 23rd or October 1st--even without Amber--it is very important. And if you’ve ever talked with matt or nick and this subject has come up. 

If you have any information about Amber Wilde or her car, please contact the Green Bay Police Department at 940-448-3200 or Crime Stoppers at 920-432-7867. Or please contact us.

CODE OF CONDUCT: 

1. Do not name names publicly. Send everything to the police or to this page and we will forward to the police. 
2. Do not post side by side photos.
3. Do not contact any family members. 
4. Do not doxx each other and be civil. We all want the same thing. 

As tips come in, Jensen and Holes will work to verify them. If they look good, we will publish them here to try and get us closer to their names.

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