Editor's note: For an update on the search described below, read "Kelsie Schelling Search Update: 'We Are Not Going Away and We Never Will!'" Continue for our previous coverage.
Today, November 10, authorities in Pueblo will continue their search for clues in the disappearance of Kelsie Schelling, a Denver woman who went missing more than four years ago after learning she was pregnant. The latest operation, prompted by what are described as new leads, continues increased activity in the investigation over recent months and follows an apparent attempt to burn down the home of Donthe Lucas, Schelling's boyfriend and the most frequently mentioned suspect in the case.
As we've reported, Schelling was last seen on February 4, 2013, when she was 21. About ten days after Schelling disappeared, 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 concerningly, 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.
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 her boyfriend, 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."
Donthe has never been charged in the case, but he's 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.
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."
Then, on November 7, members of the Pueblo Police Department, in the company of Saxton, held a press conference to announce a new round of searches slated for this week. Here's a video of that revelation.
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The PPD posted that the searches would be conducted by department detectives in cooperation with agents with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and other public-safety partners. Investigators were said to be targeting southwestern Pueblo areas "near where Kelsie was last known to be."
Unsurprisingly, the locations all reportedly corresponded to places near where Donthe Lucas once lived, including a creekbed. Crews deployed both heavy machinery and bloodhounds in the effort.
The police haven't revealed where today's searches will take place. Still, the folks at the Help Find Kelsie Facebook page, the online gathering spot for those devoted to this cause, are expressing gratitude for law enforcers whose efforts they once disdained.
After the press conference, one item notes, "We are so thankful for the involvement of CBI in addition to all of the new ranks at PPD from Detective all the way up to Chief." After day one, an update was anchored by this telling line: "Prayers are much needed."