Update: Less than a month after excavating the back yard of a Pueblo home once occupied by the former boyfriend of Kelsie Schelling, a Denver woman who disappeared in February 2013 soon after she learned she was pregnant, police used heavy equipment to dig up portions of a field not far from the residence as part of a reinvigorated search effort. No new evidence was unearthed, but a recent post on the Help Find Kelsie Facebook page suggests that Schelling's loved ones believe an arrest could be in the offing.
Previous reports can be found below and on page two of this item.
The Pueblo Police Department announced its latest effort at its own Facebook address via the photo above and this note: "Pueblo Police detectives along with members of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation continue efforts into the search of missing person Kelsie Schelling. Efforts are focused today in an area near the previous residence of person of interest Donthe Lucas."
The distance from the home to the field: approximately one mile.
During April's backyard excavation, police said they'd uncovered items of possible evidentiary value. At this point, they're not saying if something they found inspired a search of the field.
Laura Saxton, Schelling's mom, was on hand to watch the police activity. The Help Find Kelsie Facebook page shared the following photo of her looking on along with a one-word caption: "Love."
Also posted on the page last night was the following message: "Stand strong Laura and family. Good will overcome evil. We thank all of the people involved in the search and those who are offering comments of support."
A few days earlier, another post alludes to the prospect of a Lucas arrest.
It reads: "The luring of Kelsie to come to Pueblo, by her boyfriend and father of her unborn baby, began before she was to go to the doctor. It's obvious that whatever his plan was, he wanted it to happen on February 3, 2013, so that she would never make it to her first appointment on February 4. Kelsie refused to go to Pueblo on February 3, but unfortunately, his persistence caused her to finally make the trip after her appointment and she finished her shift at work on February 4. This was a PREMEDITATED crime and should be treated as one, when justice is finally handed down."
Lucas has neither been arrested nor charged in Schelling's disappearance. However, as seen above, police now regularly refer to him as a person of interest.
Continue for coverage of April's excavations and much more.
Update, 5:29 a.m. April 17: The Pueblo Police Department uncovered and retrieved items of potential evidentiary value during its excavation behind the former home of Donthe Lucas, a person of interest in the case of Kelsie Schelling, who disappeared in February 2013 shortly after learning she was pregnant. See our previous coverage below.
However, authorities confirm that no human remains were located during the two-day process.
According to the Pueblo Chieftain, the search of the Manor Ridge Drive home was extensive; it even included the removal of a tree. But the approximately twenty law enforcers at the scene on April 13 was cut in half the next day — and while personnel could be seen carrying away paper and plastic evidence bags containing unknown items, a spokesperson "made it clear that no body had been found."
On April 15, the Help Find Kelsie Facebook page shared a post summarizing the latest developments underneath a photo of Kelsie with her mom, Laura Saxton, as seen below.
Note that Kadrie is the name given to Schelling's child. The post reads:
The past 2 days have been grueling and emotional, ending with the outcome we did not hope for. Kelsie is still missing. There is no way for me to convey to you all the pain that I feel right now.
Sincere, heartfelt thanks goes out to the members of Pueblo PD, CBI and Parks & Rec who worked so hard on this search for Kelsie. This was a physically demanding excavation for them and we witnessed how hard they worked. Despite all the issues we have had in the past, the new leadership over Kelsie's case from PPD and active involvement from CBI is giving us hope that an effective investigation is finally taking place.
More than anything else we just want Kelsie and Kadrie home with us. We will have no peace until that day comes. Your continued love, support and encouragement helps keep our family going and we thank you for that.
Continue for our previous coverage, with additional reports, including photos and video, continuing on a second page.
Update, 5:33 a.m. April 14: There's been a major development in the search for Kelsie Jean Schelling, a Denver resident who went missing in February 2013 during a trip to Pueblo shortly after learning she was pregnant. The Pueblo Police Department spent yesterday, April 13, searching the back yard at a home formerly occupied by Donthe Lucas, the boyfriend with whom Schelling was scheduled to meet around the time of her disappearance.
In a press release, the PPD, which has been the subject of criticism from Schelling's family at various points during the four years-plus since Kelsie vanished, reveals that detectives with the agency, joined by representatives from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and the Pueblo Parks and Recreation Department, "executed a search warrant in the 5100 block of Manor Ridge Drive...where person of interest Donthe Lucas previously resided."
This isn't the first time that Lucas, a onetime basketball player at Northeastern Junior College, has been described as a person of interest. He's been the focus of suspicions from the beginning, and Schelling's parents filed a lawsuit against his family in 2015. The suit was dismissed the following year.
The PPD noted that portions of the back yard at the former Lucas home were excavated, and the photo that accompanied the release, seen at the top of this post, shows shovels, wheelbarrows and piles of dirt.
Authorities haven't offered any specifics about what they were hoping to find, saying only that "investigators were looking for any evidence that may help in the investigation, which is ongoing."
In our earlier coverage, on view below, we detail previous efforts to find Schelling, including a $100,000 reward offered during the month of February 2017. (The reward — double the previous amount — reverted to its earlier size at month's end.) And late last year, self-described psychic detective Troy Griffin conducted his own investigation in an effort documented by the ABC program Nightline.
Thus far, the reaction to the latest actions on the Help Find Kelsie Facebook page, the online gathering place for Schelling's family, friends and loved ones, has largely been limited to link-sharing, with the exception of this graphic and accompanying caption:
By the way, Kadrie is the name that's been given to the child Schelling was carrying.
Anyone with information about the case is encouraged to contact Pueblo Crime Stoppers at 719-542-STOP (7867). If a felony arrest results, tipsters could be eligible for a cash reward — and the Schelling family continues to offer its own $50,000 reward in the case.
Keep reading for more coverage.
Update, 7:05 a.m. March 1: 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.
Continue for previous coverage of the search for Kelsie Schelling, including photos and videos.
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.
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....
...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.
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....
...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:
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:
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.
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.
"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."
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:
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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