What We Know About Donthe Lucas Arrest in Missing Kelsie Schelling Case

Donthe Lucas in a Facebook photo from his time as a basketball player for Northeastern Junior College in Pueblo.
Donthe Lucas in a Facebook photo from his time as a basketball player for Northeastern Junior College in Pueblo.
Barely two weeks after Pueblo's Donthe Lucas was arrested on robbery charges, the former Northeastern Junior College basketball star was served with an arrest warrant in the February 2013 disappearance of Kelsie Schelling, a Denver resident who vanished after heading south to tell her boyfriend, Lucas, that she was pregnant. The bust took place on the same day his mom, Sara Lucas, was taken into custody in regard to the aforementioned robbery, suggesting that authorities are trying to ratchet up the pressure on mother and son to reveal the whereabouts of Schelling's body, which has not been found as of this writing.

The importance of locating Schelling's remains — and the case is now being treated as a homicide — was the focus of the post on the Help Find Kelsie Facebook page immediately following news of Donthe's arrest.

"Donthe Lucas faces first degree murder charges in the case of Kelsie Schelling," the item begins. "It took many people to mobilize to reach this common goal of making an arrest and the family thanks them for the hard work, dedication and professionalism they have exhibited. For many, it  also took a great deal of heart."

The post adds: "Arriving at one goal is the starting point to another. We believe justice will be served in this case. We  believe Kelsie will be found. We will never give up on finding her and bringing Kelsie and her unborn
baby home. We will achieve both goals as we believe seeking justice and finding them are inextricably entwined. With your help, we can achieve it."

Accompanying these words was a similar message shared on this graphic:

As we've reported, Schelling was last seen on February 4, 2013, when she was 21. About ten days after Schelling went missing, her car, a Chevrolet Cruze, was located in the parking lot of St. Mary-Corwin hospital in Pueblo.

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 concerning, the images depict a male getting into the car and driving it away.

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, Lucas.

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

"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."

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

For years, Lucas evaded charges — but he continued to be a focus of the investigation, which began heating up again this year. In April, for instance, the back yard of his former residence, at 5113 Manor Ridge Drive, was excavated by a team from the Pueblo Police Department, with spokespersons saying items of evidentiary value were unearthed. Weeks later, crews dug up a field not far from the residence as well; in that instance, nothing new related to Schelling's disappearance was found.

click to enlarge Donthe Lucas's latest booking photo. - PUEBLO POLICE DEPARTMENT
Donthe Lucas's latest booking photo.
Pueblo Police Department
Then, at 6:25 a.m. on June 16, members of the Pueblo Fire Department responded to reports of a fire at the home, which is no longer occupied by members of the Lucas family. Afterward, the matter was handed over to the Pueblo Police Department, which noted in a release that "we're investigating the fire as a possible arson. At this point, there is nothing to suggest that the fire is connected with the Kelsie Schelling case, but we are not ruling out anything until the investigation is complete."

On November 7, the new round of searches was announced. At the end of three days, no stunning new clues were said to have been uncovered. Optimism sparked on Friday, November 10, when a dog that was being used to hunt for forensic data alerted in an area near the confluence of Fountain Creek and the Arkansas River. However, the remains turned out to be that of an animal.

Then came word of Lucas's arrest for robbery. The arrest affidavit in that matter begins at 7:38 p.m. on September 1, when a Pueblo police officer was dispatched to 424 Madison Drive on a report of an armed robbery. There, the officer spoke with Jeff Sanchez, who had "visible injuries to his face and head," including "severe swelling to the right side of his face and eye" and "swelling on his lip and the left side of his face."

According to the document, Sanchez said he'd gone to a residence at 1109 Mesa Avenue in Pueblo to visit a friend known as "June Bug." As he was arriving, "three black males and a black female ran out of the house," and in response to his inquiries about June Bug, one of the men allegedly attacked him. Meanwhile, Sanchez accused the female of reaching into his car and swiping $1,000 from the center console of the vehicle.

The Mesa address was well known to the cops as Lucas's current home. An excerpt from the affidavit reads: "The entire Lucas family has been contacted at 1109 Mesa Avenue numerous times in the past, and it is widely known that they live at the residence."

Sanchez subsequently picked an image of Donthe from a photo lineup and identified him as the person who'd assaulted him.

click to enlarge The mug shot of Sara Lucas. - PUEBLO POLICE DEPARTMENT
The mug shot of Sara Lucas.
Pueblo Police Department
Monday, November 13, three days after the aforementioned search for Schelling concluded, an arrest warrant for Lucas was issued, and that day, he was taken into custody at DIA. During a subsequent interview, Lucas said Sanchez had been harassing his mother, Sara Lucas, and directed "racial slurs" at her. In response, he said, he put Sanchez in a headlock and began pummeling him. "Donthe admitted he probably went too far," the report states. "Donthe said he hit Sanchez three times when one punch probably would have sufficed."

At the same time, Lucas maintained that he hadn't stolen anything from Sanchez or seen anyone else do so. But detectives concluded that there was probable cause for his November 13 arrest on an aggravated robbery charge anyhow. His nineteen-year-old brother, Dushon Lucas, was busted the next day — and at 8 p.m. on December 1, the Pueblo Police Department reveals that Sara, age 49, was taken into custody on a no-bond robbery warrant.

Given that Donthe was already in custody at the Pueblo County Detention Center, serving him the homicide arrest warrant on the 1st wasn't difficult. But information about the timing of this action is being withheld. The arrest records have been sealed, and the PPD has given no indication when they'll be made public.

By the way, convicting Donthe of murder would presumably be more complicated if Schelling's body is never found — but a guilty verdict from a jury isn't beyond the realm of possibility. As evidence, see the case of Aaron Thompson, who was convicted in 2009 of child abuse resulting in death and more in regard to his daughter, Aaroné, even though the child's whereabouts remain unknown to this day.