Real Name: Stefanie Kelly Stroh
Nicknames: No known nicknames
Location: Winnemucca, Nevada
Date: October 15, 1987
Date of Birth: September 26, 1966
Weight: 130 pounds
Marital Status: Unrevealed
Characteristics: Caucasian female. She has brown hair and brown eyes. She had a light gray canvas suitcase, a pink purse and an orange sleeping bag with her.
Details: Twenty-one-year-old Stefanie Stroh was a student at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. In 1986, she began a two-year "dream trip" around the world. After spending time in Asia and Europe, she decided to return to the United States in September 1987. She and her boyfriend Art Torrance hitchhiked from New York to Utah. They decided to split up in Salt Lake City. Art returned to Oregon while Stefanie continued heading towards San Francisco, California, where her parents lived.
On October 15, 1987, Stefanie called her parents from the Four Way Cafe and Truck Stop in Wells, Nevada. She left the following message on their answering machine: Hi Mom. I'm in Nevada. I'll be home late. Leave the key under the mat.
Later that day, Stefanie was seen by a desk clerk at the Motel 6 in Winnemucca, Nevada. She tried to get a room, but the place was full. The clerk then tried to help her reserve a room at a motel in Reno. Stefanie never made it home and was never seen again. Police and her family searched for her in Winnemucca and throughout Nevada, but no trace of her was ever found.
Suspects: None known
Extra Notes: The case was featured as a part of a missing persons special alert in the October 25, 1989 episode.
Some sources state that Stefanie was last seen at the motel on October 16, 1987.
Results: Unsolved. In November 1998, police received a tip from a man who claimed that Stefanie's body was thrown down a mine shaft near Battle Mountain, Nevada. The location is between Wells and Winnemucca. The man allegedly confessed to her murder but later recanted. The FBI and local investigators searched several mine shafts; however, no trace of her was found. It is not known if the man is still considered a suspect in her case.
In 2003, serial killer Tommy Lynn Sells confessed to Stefanie's murder. In 1987, he was working for a roofing company in Winnemucca, near where she was last seen. He claimed that he picked her up while she was hitchhiking and told her that he would take her to Reno, Nevada. After taking LSD together, he strangled her, put her body in concrete, and dumped her in a hot spring that he described as being thirty feet wide. Despite extensive searches for the hot spring, it was never found.
Sells also confessed to the murders of Lauria Bible and Ashley Freeman, two missing girls who vanished in 1999 after Ashley's parents were murdered. However, he was later ruled out in that case; another suspect later pleaded guilty to the murders. In April 2014, Sells was executed by lethal injection. Although some investigators believed his confession in Stefanie's case, others did not and believe that he was not involved.
In 2010, investigators looked into the possibility that Dale Wayne Eaton was responsible for Stefanie's disappearance. Eaton is a suspected serial killer, convicted of murdering Lisa Marie Kimmell. He is suspected in several other disappearances and murders, including that of Amy Wroe Bechtel.
Sadly, no trace of Stefanie has ever been found. If she is still alive, she would be in her mid-fifties.
- Stefanie Stroh on The Charley Project
- Stefanie Stroh on The Doe Network
- Stefanie Stroh on NamUs
- Stefanie Stroh on California Attorney General's Office
- Stefanie Stroh Missing Poster
- California Woman Is Missing - Last Seen Hitchhiking in SL - October 23, 1987
- Missing woman sought in three states - October 25, 1987
- Reward in missing girl case - October 29, 1987
- Missing - November 1, 1987
- Family searches for missing daughter - November 9, 1987
- Family, friends of missing woman refuse to give up hope - November 20, 1987
- Messages from woman to family end abruptly - November 23, 1987
- Unsolved cases: Families left to suffer - October 30, 1988
- Daughter's path a mystery - May 17, 1992
- Stefanie Stroh liked to travel alone, her mother says - May 17, 1992
- Pershing authorities seek clues on 'Valerie' - February 27, 1993
- Possible Break in '87 Case Of Missing S.F. Woman - November 19, 1998
- New leads pursued in case of SF woman missing since 1987 - November 21, 1998
- Investigators check out tip in woman's disappearance - November 21, 1998
- New lead in Stroh mystery - November 23, 1998
- Serial killer admits to additional slayings - September 24, 2003
- Through the Window: The Terrifying True Story of Cross-Country Killer Tommy Lynn Sells - April 1, 2007
- Tommy Lynn Sells on Clark Prosecutor
- Websleuths Discussion of Stefanie Stroh
- Stefanie Stroh - Reed College Obituary