On February 4, 2013, 21-year-old Colorado resident Kelsie Schelling drove to Pueblo to visit her boyfriend, Donthe Lucas, never to be seen or heard from again. What happened to Kelsie Schelling? Keep reading our Kelsie Schelling wiki to find out everything you need to know about her life, the events leading up to her disappearance, and the progress of the case so far.
Who Is Kelsie Schelling?
Kelsie Jean Schelling was born on February 18, 1991 in Holyoke, Colorado to Douglas and Laura Schelling (now Laura Saxton). When Kelsie was 11 years old, her parents divorced.
|About Kelsie Schelling|
|Parents||Douglas Schelling, Laura Saxton|
The mother and daughter were extremely close, “pretty inseparable, basically,” according to Saxton.
At 19 years old, Kelsie Schelling met Donthe Isiah Lucas. They were both attending Northeastern Junior College at the time. She was a freshman and he was a junior well on his way to becoming a star basketball player, with aspirations to play in the NBA someday.
Schelling planned to major in psychology and was taking general courses in the beginning of her college career. She eventually transferred to Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, California at the same time that Lucas was heading to Emporia State University in Kansas to continue his college basketball career.
But at the end of her first semester at Vanguard, Schelling returned to Colorado and rented an apartment in Denver. To make a little extra money and help pay the rent, Schelling got a job at a local store called Floor & Décor in Highlands Ranch.
Despite going in separate directions, the two managed to stay in touch with one another and continued dating long distance.
Saxton said that, over the Christmas holidays, Lucas drove the nearly 400 miles from Kansas to Denver to stay with Schelling in her apartment.
A New Addition to the Family
Things seemed to be going swimmingly for the young couple in love until about the end of January 2013, when Schelling discovered that she was pregnant. Lucas was apparently not happy about this news, presumably because he was worried that it might derail his chances at becoming a pro basketball player.
Schelling confided in her mother that Lucas would often change his mind about whether or not he wanted to keep the baby.
“He was upset. She said they were so young,” Saxton said. “She made excuses for him. She wasn’t sure he would be involved in their lives.”
Schelling, however, had no reservations about her impending parenthood.
“She was bound and determined to have that baby. She was really excited to be a mom,” Saxton added.
Despite demonstrating his mixed feelings about becoming a father at such a young age and with so much going for him, it seemed that by early February, Lucas was finally coming around to the idea. He expressed that he didn’t want his baby to grow up without a father like he did.
Schelling felt the same way, but according to Saxton, she was also prepared to raise the child as a single parent if the situation called for it.
Kelsie Drives to Pueblo, Colorado
In early February 2013, Lucas relentlessly pestered Schelling to drive to Pueblo, Colorado, where he was living at the time, so that he could see her. According to the series of text messages and e-mails he’d sent her, he wanted to discuss the pregnancy.
He wanted her to make the two-hour drive on Sunday, February 3, 2013, after she’d finished her shift at Floor & Décor. But Schelling declined because she was too exhausted from working a full day. She also had scheduled a doctor’s appointment for the next day.
So she didn’t go that night, but went to her appointment on Monday, where she got an ultrasound and the doctor confirmed that she was eight weeks pregnant. Likely excited, Schelling sent the ultrasound image to her mom, Donthe, and Donthe’s mother, all via text.
Again that day, Lucas continued to insist that she make the drive to see him, claiming that he had a special gift for her.
So, even though she’d worked the whole day, Schelling gave in and agreed to drive to meet Lucas in Pueblo that night. She allegedly left Denver at around 8:30 p.m. on Monday, February 4, 2013.
The plan was to meet Lucas in a parking lot near his grandmother’s house.
Schelling texted Lucas as soon as she arrived to let him know that she was waiting for him. She started to get agitated when he didn’t answer her for a while and kept her waiting.
Several times, he responded, “I’ll be there in a minute.” But he kept her waiting a while longer, to the point that she threatened to go back home without seeing him if he didn’t show up soon.
She wasn’t heard from after that.
Saxton tried calling her daughter several times the next day to no avail. None of her friends could reach her, either. Saxton immediately began to worry and contacted the Denver police and gave them a description of her daughter.
Schelling hadn’t told her mother or anyone else that she was going to Pueblo to meet with Lucas.
A Suspicious Video
The Denver Police Department started investigating this case almost immediately. The first thing they did was track Schelling’s cellphone data and trace it to Pueblo, where she was to meet Lucas on the evening of February 4, 2013. Unfortunately, the battery on her phone died on February 7.
Denver police started issuing bulletins using pictures of Schelling provided by her mother, in the hopes that someone who had seen her would recognize her and contact them regarding her possible whereabouts.
They also contacted the Pueblo Police Department to alert them of the situation. Pueblo police took immediate action, canvassing local shops, restaurants, and other establishments to try to find out if anyone had seen the young woman.
They collected and reviewed countless surveillance tapes from many local businesses to see if Schelling had visited any of them on that night. This is how they came across the first of the few breaks in the case.
A surveillance tape from a local Walmart showed Schelling’s car—a 2011 black Chevrolet Cruze—arriving at the parking lot a few minutes past midnight on February 5, 2013.
According to an interview Saxton gave to The Denver Post, the surveillance video shows Lucas climbing out of Schelling’s car. He can then be seen walking to the back of the vehicle right before he gets into his mother’s vehicle, which is waiting for him.
The situation gets even stranger than that.
Apparently, Schelling’s vehicle was left in the Walmart parking lot overnight. The next morning, at around 7:20 a.m., a man wearing dark sunglasses and a hoodie covering his face can be seen walking across the parking lot from behind the building. He gets into the car and then drives off.
The last text messages Schelling sent were to Lucas while she was waiting for him in that parking lot.
The following pictures from Walmart were released to local news outlets by Pueblo police to encourage anyone with information regarding the case to come forward.
Unfortunately, the photographs are a little blurry and it’s extremely difficult to identify the suspect in them.
Police Locate Kelsie Schelling’s Vehicle
Less than two weeks after Kelsie Schelling’s disappearance and the mysterious theft of her car from the Walmart parking lot, police found her vehicle in the parking lot of St. Mary-Corwin Hospital in Pueblo.
After reviewing videotape from the night Schelling allegedly went missing, they found footage that showed someone driving the vehicle to the hospital parking lot around 5:30 a.m. on February 7, 2013. The driver can be seen getting out of the vehicle and then locking it as they walk away.
Donthe Lucas’ Side of the Story
The same night that Schelling allegedly went missing, police discovered, Lucas had used her debit card at Canon National Bank in Pueblo to withdraw $400.00 cash.
On February 15, 2013, the day after Schelling’s car was found in the hospital parking lot, Pueblo police interviewed Lucas. Although he completely denied knowing what happened to Schelling, he did admit that he’d seen her the night she went missing.
Lucas told police that he drove Schelling to Parkview Medical Center in Pueblo because she said she wasn’t feeling well. He waited for her in her car while she went inside to receive treatment. He also told police that they drove to the bank together and that Schelling had given Lucas her debit card willingly so that he could take out the money for her.
After the bank, the pair allegedly headed to the Walmart parking lot where they got into an argument. She insisted that she needed to drive back to Denver that night because she had to work the next day.
There was just one problem with Lucas’ alibi: Upon conducting further investigation, the police were unable to corroborate his account of the events that took place that night.
They reviewed surveillance tapes of the medical center where Lucas claimed he took Schelling and couldn’t find any footage of her car in the parking lot or her entering the building. The hospital also didn’t have any medical records of her ever receiving treatment there.
Police also recovered footage from the Canon National Bank from that night. And while they did find footage showing Schelling’s vehicle arriving on the property, there was no sign of her in the car. Lucas appeared to be driving the car alone and he can be seen exiting the vehicle, walking into the bank, withdrawing the money from her account, and then walking back to the vehicle.
Even the footage from Walmart of Schelling’s car didn’t show that she was inside the vehicle with Lucas before he got out and left with his mother.
The whole situation seemed suspicious.
Lucas was apprehended by Pueblo police on February 15, 2013. He was not charged with murder, however. Lucas was instead held on charges of identity theft and theft of less than $500.00.
The identity theft charges were dismissed on March 25, 2013.
The Search for Kelsie Schelling
By March 2013, massive neighborhood search parties were already underway to try to find Kelsie Schelling.
With the permission of the Pueblo Walmart management team, a local private citizen even paid to have missing person posters and signs plastered around the property in case someone would recognize her and come forward with information.
Since a body hadn’t been recovered, however, police stated publicly in April that they didn’t believe a crime had been committed. Three months into the investigation, they were starting to believe that perhaps Schelling had run away or moved somewhere else.
Naturally, her family wasn’t pleased with this assertion or its implications.
They released their own public statement in response to the police: “We know that Kelsie made it to Pueblo and did meet up with Donthe. No one has seen or heard from her since. We are not satisfied with Donthe’s original account of the events leading up to Kelsie’s disappearance. We are informed that he has since refused to speak with the Pueblo Police Department.”
They went on to state that Schelling had no reason to run away and that she hadn’t contacted her family at all since she went missing, which was completely out of character for her.
It was pretty clear from the get-go that Schelling had left her apartment in Denver that morning with every intention of returning. All of her possessions were still completely intact and there was no evidence that she’d packed a bag to stay in Pueblo overnight.
Five months later, Pueblo police had changed their tune.
In September 2013, they released another statement stating that they believed foul play may have been a factor in this case.
Unfortunately, the case came to a screeching halt for about three years. Without a body, it was extremely tough to charge Lucas with murder.
CBI Officials Look into the Case
In 2016, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) got involved.
The following year, they obtained search warrants to look through Lucas’ Pueblo property on Manor Ridge Drive, and even dug up his backyard in search of Schelling’s remains.
When they failed to find what they were looking for, they started digging up open areas of Pueblo’s south side.
According to attorney Brad Laybourne, “if the police have some other damning evidence, then you don’t need the body per se or particular piece of evidence” to bring forth a murder charge.
On December 1, 2017, prosecutors charged Lucas with first-degree murder in the case of his missing girlfriend.
Preliminary Hearings Begin
In a May 2018 preliminary hearing, CBI investigator Kevin Torres testified in court that he believes Lucas strangled Schelling in his former Pueblo house.
Investigators also revealed that there was a four-hour period of time on February 5, 2013 when neither Lucas’ nor Schelling’s phones were traceable. However, they did state that between February 4 and 5, both phones were most certainly together for the majority of the time and they were able to trace some of the locations where the GPS signals overlapped.
Two officers with the Denver Police Department testified that Lucas told them conflicting stories regarding the last time he saw Schelling.
He allegedly told Officer Chad Sinnema that he last saw Schelling between 3:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. on February 5, 2013. He said he’d dropped her off after she found out she was no longer pregnant at Parkview Medical Center the night before.
Detective Ted Binet said Lucas told him that he last saw Schelling was at 10:00 a.m. on February 5. He allegedly said the pair had gotten into a fight while parked in Schelling’s car at Walmart, and Schelling kicked him out.
Police also stated in court that they believed Lucas lured his girlfriend to Pueblo after she revealed her pregnancy, and that he planned to murder her all along.
Donthe Lucas’ Trial
On August 28, 2018, Donthe Lucas pleaded not guilty to the first-degree murder charge.
A judge set the start date for the trial on April 2, 2019; it was initially expected to last about three weeks.
In a surprising twist of events, prosecutors found out that Lucas’ defense team has filed about 35 motions in court. One of them named Kelsie’s father, Douglas Schelling, as a possible suspect. They claim that he was abusive toward his daughter.
Additionally, the defense team requested that the judge omit evidence of security camera footage that showed Lucas using Kelsie Schelling’s debit card to withdraw funds from her account. They also requested that the trial be held in a different venue because this has become an extremely high profile case in Pueblo.
While it’s highly unlikely that the location of the trial will change, the judge acquiesced to prolonging the trial date to allow investigators more time to gather their evidence and build a stronger case.
The trial is now scheduled to begin on July 30, 2019; it’s expected to last a full month.
Conspiracy Theories: Is Kelsie Schelling Dead or Alive?
Pueblo is considered one of the most dangerous cities in Colorado and it also has the highest crime rate. For that reason, some people believe that Schelling may have been the victim of human trafficking, which would explain her disappearance.
During one of his initial interviews with police, Lucas also claimed that she had massive anxiety issues and was taking pills to help her deal with it. He claimed that she would sometimes take too many pills and it’s possible that she overdosed that night because she was feeling very anxious.
Schelling’s mother completely refuted that statement or the possibility that her daughter may have committed suicide. Considering so many other aspects of Lucas’ story fell apart throughout the investigation, police still have reason to believe that he had something to do with her disappearance and possible murder.
At the time of her disappearance, 5-feet-4-inch Schelling weighed 120 pounds and had long, dark hair with hazel eyes.
Schelling had a series of tattoos, including a fleur-de-lis on the right side of her torso, Roman numerals XCI on the right side of her chest, a green skeleton key with the word “Love” on the left side of her chest, a cursive inscription on the inside of her left arm, and a Chinese symbol on the back of her neck.
According to the missing persons poster on the FBI web site, she was most likely wearing a pair of brown Ugg boots with fur trim and either black yoga pants or blue jeans the night she went missing.
Kelsie Schelling still hasn’t been found, and there’s no sign of the child she was carrying at the time, but her family has created a web site and Facebook page in an effort to provide updates regarding her case.
Authorities are asking anyone with tips or information to contact agent Kevin Torres at the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, CO at (719) 250- 8690, [email protected], the Denver Police Department, the Pueblo Police Department, or the FBI ViCAP at (800) 634-4097, [email protected].