Families search for answers in unsolved murders and disappearances

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - Five women. Five tragic stories. 11 News Anchor Dianne Derby met with five Colorado women who share a bond they never hoped for. Their children have been murdered or are missing. They want to share their stories to make sure the rest of us never forget.

When Dianne first sat down with the group two years ago, some had already been waiting for years, in some cases decades, for their cases to be solved.

Since then, some cases have had major developments. Others have remained cold. In one case, one mom died without ever getting an answer about the disappearance of her baby boy.

Dianne says when you sit with this group of moms, you can feel the pain in the room. Each one has a missing or murdered child, except for one who is now taking her mother’s place at the table.

"Hopefully in heaven, she knows the answers," said Linnea Abeyta as her eyes filled with tears.

Linnea's mom, Bernice, didn’t get that answer before she died in February of this year. She never knew what happened to her infant son Christopher. He disappeared from his crib at his Colorado Springs home more than three decades ago. No suspects have ever been named.

Bernice had fought for 30 years to look for Christopher every single day, and we were really hoping she'd be able to find out the answers before she left.

Two days before Bernice passed away, Laura Saxton told her goodbye.

"Before I went to leave I kissed her on the hand and told her that I loved her and she raised her eyebrows, so I know she heard me," Laura recalled the last time she met with Bernice.

Laura, Bernice, Elaine, Pam and Renee came to know each other through the mutual pain of a lost child.

Laura's daughter, Kelsie Schelling, vanished nearly five years ago. She was heading from Denver to Pueblo to see her boyfriend Donthe Lucas. Kelsie had just found out she was pregnant. Lucas is the only named person of interest in the case, which until this year, had gone cold. In April new leads prompted investigators to dig up the backyard of the boyfriend’s former home in Pueblo.

"You hope for something to happen," said Laura. "And then when it happens, it's like it hits so hard and fast and you're just a nervous wreck."

Laura says investigators found some items but they would not tell her what. Then earlier in November, investigators searched several areas in Pueblo, using bloodhounds and heavy equipment. Nothing was found.

"We are going to be going through our fifth holiday season without Kelsie and her baby," Laura said, holding back tears near one of the dig sites investigators were searching at in early November. "I can't tell you what torture that is, I can barely stand the thought of going through another Christmas without her."

Holidays are a time families get together. Holidays are nearly unbearable for all of these women.

"You live with this constant cloud or heartbreak always, and it is just a part of our life now, that's who we are," Elaine Hall said sitting at the 11 News desk, tears streaming down her cheeks.

The last time Elaine saw her 13-year-old-son, Dylan Redwine, was right before Thanksgiving in 2012. He was leaving for a court-ordered visit to his father's home outside Durango. Soon after he got there, he disappeared. Seven months later some of his remains were found in a remote part of the San Juan National Forest.

"Dylan is scattered all over that mountain somewhere," said Elaine.

In July of this year, Dylan's father Mark Redwine was arrested in Washington state. Now Mark is facing charges for Dylan's death.

"It is a relief but it doesn't change much of anything," said Elaine in reference to Mark's arrest. "My son is still not with us and we still have to learn to live without him."

Pam Kinslow has been living without her son, Tommy, for 12 years.
Her 20-year-old son was shot to death outside their Colorado Springs home.

"To find the person who did it," said Pam hoping for some closure her in her son's death. "We don't know who that is or where to begin on that."

Springs police tell 11 News they think Tommy may have confronted a stranger committing a crime in the neighborhood as he arrived home from work. It was around 1:45 in the morning. A few months later, one man was arrested.

"At the beginning, they were able to make the arrest with him because he had told friends details that hadn't been released to anybody," said Pam.

Pam goes on to say the charge was dismissed because the DNA evidence in Tommy's death did not match.

Pam struggles with the fact her son's case has not received national attention.

"There are certain cases the FBI steps in and they offer a reward," explained Pam. "I don't know what makes that person more special than Tommy."

Behind the tears is a mom determined to find her son's killer, a message to the public.

"If I knew who did it like you know, I can't say I wouldn't go after them myself," said Pam.

Rene Jackson knows her daughter's killer. Christopher Waide was sentenced to 48 years in prison for Lea Porter's murder in 2014. He told police she attacked him and he choked her to death, then put her body in a dumpster in Westminster.

Investigators searched a landfill for 40 days. They never found her body, but they did find some of her things all stuffed into one pillowcase.

"They got the clothes he described putting back on her, they got her handbag, her wallet, this little ring that I gave her the Christmas before she was murdered," said Rene.

Rene thinks Waide had help getting rid of the body.

"I feel he is protecting one or more people," Rene mentioned.

Rene says until he gives up an exact location, she'll never stop looking for her daughter.

"We still search, just like Laura does for Kelsie," said Rene.

It's the only option for these women as they hold on to hope that their cases will somehow be solved.

"It is the most horrific, humbling, horrifying experience that any person could ever imagine," Elaine said sitting around the 11 News desk.

If you have any information on any of the above crimes contact your local police department.

Specifically, if you have information on the Abeyta or Kinslow case contact Colorado Springs police at 719-444-7000.

If you have information on the Schelling case, call Pueblo Police at 719-553-2538.

In the Porter case, call Westminster police at 303-658-4360.

In the Redwine case, contact the La Plata County Sheriff at 970-247-1157.