$100K Reward Doesn't Break Missing Kelsie Schelling Case, Family Heartsick

Kelsie Jean Schelling
Kelsie Jean Schelling

Update: The family of former Denver resident Kelsie Jean Schelling, who vanished following a February 2013 trip to Pueblo to meet with the boyfriend who had impregnated her, has announced that temporarily raising the reward for information on her whereabouts to $100,000 did not result in a long-sought break in the heartrending case.

As noted in our previous update, on view below, the reward offered for Kelsie's "direct return or location" was doubled from its previous $50,000 level for the month of February only to mark the fourth anniversary of her disappearance and her 26th birthday, which took place on February 18.

Last night, February 28, a post was shared on the Help Find Kelsie Facebook page. It reads:

Sadly it appears that the $100,000 reward for the direct return or location of Kelsie and baby Kadrie is not going to generate the information we long to receive. At 12:00 am on March 1, 2017, the reward will be placed back at $50,000. Disgustingly, the "Code of Pueblo" is too strong to do what is right.

There's no explanation of the term "Code of Pueblo." But Schelling's family has expressed dissatisfaction with the investigation of the case and the silence of the aforementioned boyfriend, Donthe Lucas, and his family. Get additional details in our previous coverage, which follows.

Update, 5:37 a.m. February 17: For this month only, the family of Kelsie Jean Schelling, who disappeared in February 2013 after traveling to Pueblo to tell her then-boyfriend she was pregnant, has raised the reward for her "direct return or location" from $50,000 to $100,000.

A post on the Help Find Kelsie Facebook page reveals that the reward boost "is being done in remembrance of the fourth anniversary of Kelsie's disappearance and her 26th birthday, on February 18" — tomorrow.

The note adds: "We pray someone will find it in their heart to end our suffering and allow us to bring our Kelsie and grandchild home where they belong."

Here's a graphic with more information.

$100K Reward Doesn't Break Missing Kelsie Schelling Case, Family Heartsick (2)
Help Find Kelsie Facebook page

Some people have tried to take advantage of the family's willingness to put significant financial resources behind the ongoing search. An example cited by 7News: A Facebook tipster who claimed that Kelsie was still alive thanks to a friend who'd been ordered to kill her but had chosen to sex-traffic her instead proved to be a front for scammers with an IP address the FBI traced to Russia.

Other clues have cropped up over time, including the one about stolen signs that is at the heart of a report on view below.

The Help Find Kelsie Facebook page recently floated another theory related to her car, which can be seen in surveillance footage from a Pueblo Walmart shot days before the vehicle was found abandoned near St. Mary Corwin hospital.

Underneath this graphic....

$100K Reward Doesn't Break Missing Kelsie Schelling Case, Family Heartsick (3)
Help Find Kelsie Facebook page

...the post reads: "Surveillance video taken from Walmart leads us to believe the person of interest in Kelsie's disappearance, did not act alone. The first slide shows the 'lookout' car driving from behind Walmart to the front side of the store where they pull in and park. The 2nd slide shows that person getting out of their car and watching as Kelsie's car is picked up and driven away. The man who picked Kelsie's car up also followed that same path, walking from behind Walmart to the front of the store, where he walked directly to Kelsie's car, unlocked it with the key fob and drove away. That lookout person needs to realize they are heavily involved. There will be no mercy for them unless they come forward in advance of arrests being made. They are fooling themselves if they have convinced themselves that they did nothing wrong."

Kelsie's disappearance continues to get national coverage; earlier this month, it was featured on the syndicated Crime Watch Daily program. Her loved ones are hoping that the burst of publicity related to the increase in the reward will help answer questions that have lingered for four long years. Continue for our earlier report.

Original post, 6:24 a.m. May 19, 2016: Since February 2013, we've been reporting about the disappearance of Kelsie Jean Schelling, who vanished in Pueblo shortly after learning she was pregnant.

More than three years later, the case is receiving renewed attention thanks in large part to it being featured on a recent episode of the ABC newsmagazine program 20/20. A portion of that broadcast is on view below.

The latest? The Pueblo Police Department has put out an alert for a man who is suspected of stealing more than a dozen signs related to the search for Schelling and has released a video showing the vehicle he drove while doing so.

Authorities can't say for certain if this man was involved in the Schelling case — but it's a possible clue in a case that's as mysterious as it has been agonizing for her friends, family and loved ones.

As we've reported, Schelling, then 21, was last seen on February 4, 2013. The photos and writings shared at the Help Find Kelsie Facebook page portray her as a member of a loving family and a person of deep faith. An example of the latter can be seen in this photo....

Kelsie Jean Schelling.
Kelsie Jean Schelling.

...and accompanying text, which reads:

Kelsie, being a very spiritual and faith-filled person, maintains a running list of favorite Bible verses. Her Bible, filled with fluorescent highlights and personal footnotes, contains her reflections as she continues to pursue her Faith. She would be overwhelmed with the kindness of people and their efforts to find her. So we'd like to share something of hers with you. Please keep Kelsie in your prayers as we continue to bring her home. We cannot afford to stop searching for a person that has such love for her family and friends, and who is inclusive of all.

About ten days after Schelling went missing, the accompanying Help Find Kelsie website noted that her car, a Chevrolet Cruze, was located in the parking lot of St. Mary Corwin hospital in Pueblo. Here's a Google map image showing the location:

$100K Reward Doesn't Break Missing Kelsie Schelling Case, Family Heartsick (5)
Google Maps

The following month, the Pueblo Police Department put out photos showing shots of the car circa February 5 and 6 from somewhere else — the parking lot of an area Walmart. More concerningly, the images depict a male getting into the car and driving it away. Here are the four images shared by the PPD:

$100K Reward Doesn't Break Missing Kelsie Schelling Case, Family Heartsick (6)
Pueblo Police Department

Pueblo officers subsequently announced that they had looked for Schelling in various parts of the city using canines "specialized in searching for missing persons." But no breakthroughs emerged.

Then, at an April news conference, Schelling's family revealed new information about the pregnancy that motivated her drive to Pueblo, as well as details about her boyfriend.

Another Facebook portrait of Kelsie Jean Schelling.
Another Facebook portrait of Kelsie Jean Schelling.

According to Laura Saxton, Schelling's mother, her daughter got confirmation of her pregnancy on February 4, 2013. Doctor's records confirm that she was eight weeks pregnant, with the presumed father being her boyfriend, Donthe Lucas, who played basketball for Northeastern Junior College.

Donthe Lucas.
Donthe Lucas.

"Cell phone records show that Kelsie sent picture messages of her ultrasound pictures taken that day to family members and also to Donthe and his mother," Saxton said at an April 2013 press conference. "Cell phone records also show that Donthe asked Kelsie to come to Pueblo when she got off of work that night because he needed to speak with her in person.

"We know that Kelsie made it to Pueblo and did meet up with Donthe," Saxton continued. "No one has seen or heard from her since."

A timeline of the events in the case, as shared on the Help Find Kelsie Facebook page.
A timeline of the events in the case, as shared on the Help Find Kelsie Facebook page.

Does Saxton believe Lucas played a role in Schelling's disappearance? "We are not satisfied with Donthe's original account of the events leading up to Kelsie's disappearance," she said, adding, "We are informed that he has since refused to speak with the Pueblo Police Department."

Over the months and years that followed, Schelling's loved ones have staged numerous events and organized searches in Pueblo in an effort to keep the case on the radar of the public and police — and those efforts continued prior to the second anniversary of her disappearance. Supporters staged a justice walk on February 7, 2015 in Pueblo, as noted in this Facebook graphic:

$100K Reward Doesn't Break Missing Kelsie Schelling Case, Family Heartsick (10)

Such efforts eventually attracted the attention of producers at 20/20 as well as members of the community.

According to a new release from the Public Police Department, one such person paid for the creation of yard signs about Schelling, and fourteen to sixteen of them were placed in the grass and rock areas on the south side of the Walmart parking lot with permission of store management.

The signs were put in place on May 1 — but three days later, on May 4, all of them were removed by an unknown person.

Surveillance video from the area shows the person in question to be a "tall white male wearing black shorts and a white T-shirt" who was driving "a blue-colored minivan," the PPD release notes.

Anyone with information about the man or the van is encouraged to contacted Pueblo Police Detective Shane Pope at 719-553-2441..

Continue to see a 9News report featuring the PPD clip as well as a portion of the 20/20 broadcast.

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