Amber Wilde was involved in a car accident on Wednesday, September 23, 1998; she rear-ended a woman while she was driving to class. Although the 19-year-old wasn’t seriously injured in the accident, she smacked her head on her car windshield hard enough to crack the glass. When she got back to her apartment in Green Bay, Wisconsin that evening, Amber called her father and told him that she felt okay but had a headache. She told him she was going to lie down and asked him to call her the next day to make sure she got up in time for her 1:00 pm class at the University of Wisconsin. Steve Wilde tried to call his daughter the next day but didn’t get any answer; Amber had vanished from her apartment and she was never seen again.
Steve had a feeling something was wrong when he wasn’t able to get a hold of Amber on Thursday; he drove to Green Bay from his home in Maryville, Wisconsin that night and found Amber’s apartment locked tight. There was no sign of Amber, her car, or her purse, but all of her other belongings had been left behind.
Amber was five months pregnant when she went missing, and she wasn’t getting along with Matthew Schneider, the father of her child. At first, he denied that the baby was his because he was seeing someone else. When Amber told his fiancée that she was pregnant, Matthew got very angry and tried to persuade Amber to have an abortion. When she wouldn’t do it, he got very angry and told Amber he didn’t want anything to do with her or the baby.
Amber was very mature for her age, even though she was only 19. She told her family and friends that she was going to keep the baby. She began taking college classes while she was still in high school and had just begun her junior year at the University of Wisconsin in Green Bay. Her goal was to go to medical school one day, so she had no plans to take any time off after giving birth.
Julie Ketter, Amber’s mother, was sure that her daughter hadn’t just vanished on her own. She said that the teen wasn’t sad about being pregnant and had been making good plans for her future. “I believe she was upset with herself, but she had already dealt with that six weeks before. We were all there to help and support her. Giving birth and going to school at the same time was something new for her.
At this point, a week after Amber went missing, police still didn’t know what happened to her. It was impossible for them to find her or her car, and they were afraid that she might have lost her memory because of a head injury. Even though she went to the campus nurse’s office after her car accident to get checked out, her injuries might have been worse than first thought, and police were desperately trying to find her. The police thought it was possible that she was lost and had wandered off because of it.
Police said there was no reason to think Amber had been harmed when she went missing, and her family was still hopeful that she had just needed to take a break. Steve asked his daughter to call someone in public so that everyone would know she was okay. “She needs to come forward and say, ‘Here I am.’ We can’t help her until we know where she is.”
Detectives from the Green Bay Police Department said they had heard that Amber might have been seen in the Shawano area and were working to confirm it. He said that Matthew, Amber’s baby’s father, worked at a construction site in Shawano and that police were going to go there to talk to him.
Steve was watching his daughter’s bank account. He was hoping she would use her credit card or log into her account so he could find out where she was. A little over two thousand dollars was in the bank, and she had just gotten paid from her work-study job. “She could live on that much money for a while. If she ate and filled up her gas tank while living in her car, she’d have enough to get by.”
As the second week of the search for Amber began, local TV stations and newspapers picked up the story, giving it much-needed attention. QuadGraphics drivers volunteered to hand out posters about Amber’s disappearance at rest stops, truck stops, and toll booths in Wisconsin and Illinois. Steve said the family was thankful for all the help. “It’s been really cool.”
Steve paid the rent for October at Amber’s Green Bay apartment on September 30, 1998. After a few hours, he found out that her car had been found near Lambeau Field. The car was left in a parking lot near the Fifty-Yard Line Sports Bar. Around 6 p.m. Thursday, police were called to the scene. People who worked there said the car had been in their parking lot since at least Tuesday. The keys were in the ignition when it was found, and Amber’s purse and cell phone were locked in the trunk.
The police were looking through the car for clues, and Steve was hoping they would find something useful. “We really hope they find prints in the car.” They were told to check the seat. That seat was always as far forward as it could go. Later, detectives confirmed that the driver’s seat was pushed back a lot further than usual. This suggests that Amber may not have been the last person to drive her car. There were also fingerprints inside the car that didn’t belong to anyone in particular.
It was found by detectives that Amber’s car had been driven 600 miles after she disappeared, but they could never figure out why.
About twenty of Amber’s family and friends went to the Green Bay Packers game on October 5, 1998, and in the parking lot, they handed out 10,000 missing person flyers. Steve hoped that someone had seen Amber and not known she was missing. “A lot of people do what I do: I turn something else on when the news comes on.”
Steve told the police that he didn’t think they were paying attention to Matthew at first because he is the father of Amber’s unborn child. “The detective has talked to him a few times and he doesn’t see anything there.” However, investigators said they had hit a snag because one of Amber’s friends wouldn’t help them. They wouldn’t say who this person was, and it wasn’t clear if they were talking about Matthew.
Green Bay Lt. Craig Van Schyndle told reporters, “We’ve talked to people who used to be her boyfriends, but I don’t know if any of them are her boyfriends now.” Someone in this group won’t give us voluntary information anymore,” Lt. Van Schyndle said. He added that the uncooperative person was “more than an acquaintance,” but he wouldn’t say anything else.
Amber’s family hired a private detective to help with the search a month after she was last seen. Steve, who had taken time off work to look for his daughter, said he didn’t think Amber would be able to finish the semester at school even if she came back. He planned to start cleaning out her apartment on November 1 so that he could get rid of all of her things.
Detectives said they still hadn’t found any signs of foul play, but as the weeks went by and the teenager wasn’t seen or heard from, they became more worried. They said over and over that someone they wanted to talk to wouldn’t work with them, but they wouldn’t say who it was. Steve thought there might have been foul play, but he didn’t think Matthew had anything to do with it. “He’s just not that smart.”
To talk to the press, Amber’s parents met at the Green Bay Police Department on November 6, 1998. It was important to let people know that Amber was still missing and that they were still doing everything they could to find her. They told hunters that the deer hunting season would begin in two weeks and asked them to be on the lookout for anything strange in the woods. Julie said, “It’s a good thing that there will be deer hunters out there; there aren’t enough police.”
Late in November, police in Green Bay decided to put together a task force to look into what happened to Amber. They said that they had spent a lot of time interviewing people outside of their area of responsibility and that they hoped that getting help from other departments would make the investigation better. A group of people from the FBI, the State Division of Criminal Investigation, the Everest Metropolitan Police Department, the Portage County Sheriff’s Department, the West Bend Police Department, and the Brown County Sheriff’s Office agreed to take part.
Lt. Van Schyndle said that detectives were getting more worried about Amber every day. “There aren’t many missing people from here about whom we don’t know anything.” For that reason, we set up a task force and have been following up on every tip we’ve received.
As 1998 came to a close, Amber’s family was afraid they would never find out what had happened to her. Green Bay Police Lt. Greg Urban said it was not likely that the case would end well. “Every day that goes by makes it less likely that she’ll be found alive and well.” There is no sign of her anywhere, and we haven’t heard from her in days. This makes us more likely to think she was ki*lled.
Detectives said in January 1999 that they were moving their investigation from Green Bay to Washington County and the West Bend area. Detective Michael Zettel said that the police had looked into a number of possible Amber sightings but couldn’t confirm any of them. “We cannot put Amber Wilde anywhere after September 23rd.” It was thought that someone had snatched her.
Detective Zettel said, “We do have specific people we want to talk to—there are suspects in the Washington County area, and we need to find out more about them.” He wouldn’t name any possible suspects, but reporters did note that Amber was seen with Matthew Schneider in the West Bend area.
Amber was due to have her first child in the middle of February 1999. Her due date came and went, but nothing was done to move the case forward. Lt. Allen Van Haute of the Green Bay Police Department said that Amber’s disappearance was strange, but they still didn’t have proof that she had been k*illed. He asked hospitals in the area to keep an eye out for anyone who looks like Amber.
In March 1999, Amber’s family said they would pay $10,000 for information that would help them find her. Steve said, “Someone knows something, but they’re not telling.” Amber had been missing for six months, and her family was getting more and more desperate to find out what happened to her. They thought that if they offered a reward, someone would finally come forward and tell the police what they knew.
Months went by, and no one knew what happened to Amber. Detectives were still trying to figure out what happened to her even though it had been a year since she had been seen. Detective Zettel told the press that he still thought the case could be solved. “We can prove that we were lied to and we know it.” He said, “There are people who have basically slowed down this investigation.” He also said he didn’t think Amber was still alive. “I believe Amber went through a terrible event. “I don’t think she’ll be back.”
Detectives learned during their investigation that Amber had a phone call at her apartment the night she disappeared. They thought she left her apartment on her own after taking the call. They would not say who called, but they did say that the caller had not been cooperative with police.
In April 2001, police drilled holes in the ground at a site that used to be a construction site. The site was on State Highway 29, about 15 miles west of Shawano, Wisconsin. The fact that cadaver dogs had alerted at the scene made detectives think that there might be human remains there. They said they would keep looking into all leads even though they didn’t find anything because they were still trying to figure out what happened to Amber.
Detectives didn’t believe Matthew when he told them the truth about what had happened between him and Amber over the years. He never fully cooperated with the police. He said he had nothing to do with Amber’s disappearance and never gave them an alternative explanation for what happened that night. In May 2016, Matthew was named as a suspect in Amber’s mu*rder for the first time in public. Nick Petit, who is friends with Matthew, was also named as a person of interest.
Matthew was working on a road project in September 1998. One theory is that he kil*led Amber and buried her body under Highway 29, which was still being built at the time. Some of the detectives thought Amber was k*illed because she wouldn’t have an abortion like Matthew wanted her to.
Heather went missing around the same time that Matthew got engaged to Heidi, his high school sweetheart. They had been married for 20 years by 2020, and Heidi insisted that Matthew had nothing to do with Amber going missing. “Woman, I’m not stupid. I wouldn’t stay with someone if I thought they did that. I think it was easy for them to blame Matt at first. She thinks investigators were unfairly after him from the start.
In 2020, Green Bay Detective Lee Kingston said that Matthew’s refusal to help with the investigation had made it harder. “We got rid of everyone else, but he won’t talk to us or answer our questions.”
Amber hasn’t been seen in almost 25 years, and her case is still being looked into. The DA for Brown County, David Lasee, said in 2020 that not having a body can make it harder but not impossible to charge someone with mur*der. He wouldn’t say that charges would never be brought against him. But Amber’s family doesn’t care as much about punishing the ki*ller; they just want Amber to come home.
Amber Lynn Wilde was last seen in Green Bay, Wisconsin, in September 1998. She was only 19 years old. Amber Schneider was five months pregnant when she went missing. Matthew Schneider, the father of her unborn child, was engaged to another woman and had told Amber that he wanted her to have an abortion. Amber had told Matthew’s fiancée that she was pregnant on the phone not long before she went missing. It was said that this made Matthew very angry, which made him a clear suspect in Amber’s disappearance. Amber ran away with brown eyes and brown hair. She was 5 feet 5 inches tall and 140 pounds when she went missing. Amber had eight small gold hoops in each ear, and she had a small bump on the head when she disappeared. Please call the Green Bay Police Department at 920-448-3221 if you know anything about Amber’s whereabouts.