Middle Tennessee Mysteries is dedicated to shining a light on cold cases, unsolved murders and missing people in Tennessee.

White County: Erin Foster and Jeremy Bechtel

Sep 17, 2018 at 12:00 pm by Michelle Willard

Erin Foster and Jeremy Bechtel

White County teenagers Erin Foster and Jeremy Bechtel should have come home the night of April 3, 2000, but they disappeared, along with Erin's prized two-door 1998 Pontiac Grand Am.

And the families of both teenagers are left grappling with more questions than answers.

"I hope that someday we can find them both and bring them home to rest," Jeremy's mother Rhonda Ledbetter said in a 2012 interview with the Knox News-Sentinel. "I need that closure."

She didn't get her closure, having died in July 2018, and it doesn't seem like either family will get their much need closure any time soon, White County Sheriff's Office Detective Chris Isom said there are no suspects and no solution in sight.

Anyone with information is asked to call the White County Sheriff's Office at 931-836-2700 or the Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST.

“If anybody knows anything at all, please, please call,” said Leigh Ann Foster said in a 2002 interview with SpartaLive.com. “Our daughter is missing.”

The Missing Persons

By most accounts, Erin Foster, 18, and Jeremy Bechtel, 17, were childhood friends. Some reports call them more than friends.

Erin is described as 5'8" and 115 pounds, is white with blonde hair and blue eyes, and has pierced ears. She was last seen wearing long pants, sandals and three sets of earrings.

Jeremy is also white with dark hair and light eyes. He is described as standing 5'8", weighing 150 pounds at the time of his disappearance. He was last seen wearing a dark T-shirt or a plaid shirt, baggy blue jeans, white Fila sneakers and a blue baseball cap or a green Army cap.

The Disappearance

Erin picked up her brother from school Monday afternoon, April 3, 2000. When she got home, she asked her mother if she could go out on a school night.

Leigh Ann Foster said yes. It was the last time she saw her daughter.

Erin went to a party at a friend's house where she saw Jeremy.

Jeremy called his father, Ronnie Bechtel, to tell him he was with Erin and some other friends.

It was the last time he talked to his son.

Erin and Jeremy left the party and were last seen around 10 p.m. April 3, 2000, driving Erin's car outside of Sparta. Neither the teenagers nor the black two-door 1998 Pontiac Grand Am, Tennessee license plate number 473EJR, haven't been credibly seen since.

"This is a case with two victims and many possibilities, but no crime scene and no forensic evidence," White County Sheriff's Office Detective Chris Isom said in an interview with the Knox News-Sentinel.

The Investigation

In the beginning, investigators thought the pair ran away together but the years since have made this theory less likely.

Neither families have heard from them, there has been no activity on either of their Social Security numbers, and Erin's driver's license has never been renewed. There is also no evidence of the car.

Since Erin and Jeremy disappeared, White County Sheriff's investigators have run down leads across the Southeast and dug up wells across the county, according to WSMV.

One tip said the teenagers had been murdered and their bodies disposed of in an abandoned well in rural White County.

"Just a few months back, we dug up another well," Isom said in 2012. "We've explored all the well avenues that we know of unless some more information is developed. But we are not giving up on this case."

No specific tip has led to them, but investigators followed a reported sighting of Erin in 2005 and 2006 in Pensacola, Florida.

The White County Sheriff's Office continues to do periodic reviews of the case.

The Theories

There are as many theories about their disappearance as there are people in White County.

Some theories include robbery or drug deal gone wrong, silenced by local criminals, accidentally drove into a body of water, killed out of jealousy, or simply ran away.

The jealousy theory hangs on the culpability of Erin's ex-boyfriend.

Isom said Erin's ex-boyfriend is a person of interest in the case, but he has cooperated with investigators including passing a polygraph test.

If they are still alive, the investigator said he puts most credence in the reported sightings of Erin in Florida.

"We had several people ID her photo, and one of them was a retired police officer," Isom said.

Jeremy's mother, for one, doesn't believe the teens ran away.

"You need money to go on the run," she told the News-Sentinel in 2012. "Both of them worked, and neither picked up their last paychecks. And none of their personal belongings are missing."

In the same article, Isom said it's odd for missing people, especially teens, to be gone nearly 20 years with no contact with their friends and family.