IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI) - September 14 marks 20 years since Amber Hoopes disappeared.
Back in 2001, Bonneville County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a report of a missing woman at Classic Auto Body on E. Lincoln Rd. Three days after the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington DC and Pennsylvania, deputies began learning about 20-year-old Amber Shawnell Hoopes who had been staying with grandparents next door to the business. Amber had been working late inside the Body Shop that evening, and after she didn’t come back inside, her grandparents went to check on her and discovered she was gone.
Deputies were called to the home, where Amber’s family described what happened and their concerns. It wasn’t normal for Amber to leave without talking to someone and there was absolutely no indication she had anywhere to be. The search continued through the night as deputies began exploring all possible locations and people Amber may be with. As the events continued into the next day with no sign of Amber, Detectives began gathering available evidence and information that lead them to believe foul play was involved.
The investigation continued throughout the next several days, weeks and months, with resources spreading the information nationwide searching for clues as to what happened to Amber. Deputies followed numerous leads and information, developed several suspects, and conducted multiple interviews with family, friends, and acquaintances, but Amber had not been discovered.
Six and a half months later on the morning of June 2, 2002, Bonneville County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a residence on Highway 26 in the Milo area where a 14-year-old girl was discovered missing. The girl had been sleeping outside overnight on a trampoline with siblings but was gone when everyone woke up. Deputies began searching for the girl and considering the possibility of a connection to a Salt Lake City, UT case on that same morning where 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart had been abducted.
Ultimately there was not a connection to the abduction in Salt Lake, but as multiple deputies and area Law Enforcement searched through the day a breakthrough happened when the missing girl made contact with an employee at her father’s business. It was discovered then that the girl had been taken from the trampoline in the middle of the night by Keith Glen Hescock after he threatened harm to the other siblings. Hescock had taken the girl to his home just north of Idaho Falls, where he assaulted her and chained her up in a bedroom. After Hescock had left the residence, the girl was able to free herself and call for help.
As the investigation unfolded that afternoon, deputies began searching for Hescock and collecting evidence at his residence. Hescock, who drove truck working as a tool salesman, returned home to find deputies on scene and immediately fled. Deputies pursued Hescock east of Idaho Falls through the Heise and Kelly Canyon area and into the hills of the Grand Teton National Forest, where he got stuck on a dead end road in the Moody Meadows area. Hescock began shooting at deputies, hitting a Bonneville County Sgt. in the leg and killing a K-9 dog. Deputies returned fire, injuring Hescock in the process to where he fell to the ground and took his own life.
Prior to the events of that day, Keith Glen Hescock had been a person of interest in the disappearance of Amber Hoopes, having connections to family and the Classic Auto Body business. For several months after the abduction in June of 2002, Detectives gathered information and evidence tied to Hescock, his family, work, residence, and anywhere he may have been in an attempt to locate Amber. A great deal of information connected Hescock to Amber’s disappearance, as well has patterns and historical events potentially linking him to other similar cases in the region. From the information gathered, deputies believe Hescock abducted Amber on September 14th, 2001 and buried her body in an unknown location, however after years of searching and following leads Amber has still not been found.
Twenty years later, the Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office still considers this case to be active and continues to follow tips and information in an attempt to find Amber and return her to family. Deputies are missing the final pieces of what happened in order to accomplish that mission and work hard to make sure other cases or possible suspects that could be tied to it are properly vetted. Over the years as technology has progressed, some pieces of this case have been more solidified and brought closer to a full conclusion, but until Amber Hoopes is located our office will never consider this case fully closed.
For the Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office perspective, it’s appropriate that September 14 be considered Idaho Missing Persons Day to recognize all unsolved Missing Persons Cases in Idaho. Brought forth by the efforts of the Hoopes family, and first signed in 2006 as a proclamation by Gov James Risch, it's been this day that reminds the agency the most that Amber is still gone. It is the department's hope this day reminds the community of the families who are still missing their loved ones and that new information will be discovered that solves this case and other active Missing Persons Cases.
If you have information about this case or any criminal activity, please contact your local Law Enforcement or Crime Stoppers by calling 208-522-1983, online at www.ifcrime.org or through the P3tips App on your mobile device, available in the Apple or Google Play store.