Cold case: Where is Stefanie Stroh?

Stefanie Stroh (also reported as Stephanie Stroh) was reported missing from Wells, Nevada on October 15, 1987. The 21-year-old college student had been hitchhiking by herself across the region when she vanished under suspicious circumstances. The last contact she had with her loved ones was shortly before she vanished. She called her parents to tell them that she had found a ride from Wells to Reno, Nevada -- a destination that she never reached. There has been nothing but speculation and what-ifs in her case for the past several years, but the fact remains that she has never been located. Will this cold case ever be solved?

Stefanie's disappearance has links to a notorious serial killer. Tommy Lynn Sells (who was executed in 2014) claimed that he was the one who promised her a ride from Wells to Reno on the last day the missing woman was ever seen alive. He confessed to strangling the missing coed to death before disposing of her body somewhere near Winnemucca, Nevada. Investigators have never been able to substantiate Tommy's claims, and he's dead now, so it would be impossible to get any further information out of him. However, it's curious that he provided details that seemed to correlate with the facts surrounding her disappearance. She was known to be hitchhiking at the time of her disappearance, and as previously stated, she told her parents she had found a ride. If Tommy Lynn Sells didn't kill this woman, then who did he kill near Winnemucca, Nevada?

It should be noted that authorities have searched the areas where Tommy Lynn Sells claimed to have disposed of the missing woman's body. The prolific serial killer claimed that he encased her body in cement and then dumped her in a hot spring near Winnemucca. There are quite a few hot springs, so it's possible that detectives didn't check the right one, or Tommy was simply playing a game of cat and mouse with the authorities. Even up until the moment he was put to death, Tommy Lynn Sells refused to discuss some of his crimes and the specifics surrounding them. Perhaps if he had killed Stefanie Stroh, he simply didn't want the true location of her body found.

Even if Stefanie Stroh wasn't one of the numerous victims slain by Tommy Lynn Sells, she almost certainly met some kind of foul play while hitchhiking from Wells to Reno, Nevada. She never made it to her destination and fell completely out of contact with anyone who ever knew her. She has also never resurfaced to let authorities know that she is safe and unharmed. In other words, this woman has ceased to exist for the past 29 years. Circumstances like these almost always point to foul play -- in particular, murder.

The last physical search for Stefanie Stroh's remains was many, many years ago. It seems that after nearly 30 years, detectives would prefer to wait until her remains are found accidentally by hikers or some other innocent passerby. The problem with this is that it could take many years for skeletal remains to be identified, especially when the system is already backed up with untested John and Jane Does. Whether or not there are any surviving family members who are still mourning the disappearance of Stefanie Stroh, this case deserves closure.


  1. Thank you for posting this. I went to college with Stefanie and think of her from time to time. She was such a free spirit with a wide smile and an open mind. She would have trusted anyone. She had an unusually large heart. It must have taken a particularly evil person to not be moved by her. Too many women have been martyred. It is not just that the U.S. produces so many serial killers, it is that it produces so much misogyny.


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