New leads in Kelsie Schelling case, searches start Wednesday
: Investigators say there are new leads in the Kelsie Schelling case.
Schelling's family has continued to ask for the public's help in finding their missing daughter. Kelsie was 22 when she disappeared in February of 2013 from Pueblo. She was reportedly last seen on Feb. 4 in, having traveled from Denver to see her boyfriend, Donthe Lucas, to tell him she was eight weeks pregnant with his child.
On Tuesday, The Pueblo police announced they will be conducting searches in the Pueblo area on Wednesday in connection to the case. Details about the elements of the searches were not released. The new searches were prompted by recent leads generated as part of the ongoing cold case investigation.
The searches will focus on areas near where Kelsie was last known to be in southwestern Pueblo.
“While we cannot offer any comment about this active investigation, we want the community to be aware that this case remains a priority for the Pueblo Police Department,” said Pueblo Police Chief Troy Davenport. “Our police department is committed to helping to bring justice to Kelsie and for her family.”
Law enforcement say they found new evidence during their second day digging up the backyard at a home with a connection to a missing Pueblo woman.
Sgt. Eric Gonzales with the Pueblo Police Department says a tip led them to the home on Manor Ridge Drive in a neighborhood called Regency two weeks ago. Police quietly began doing investigative work in order to gather enough evidence to obtain a search warrant, which they executed at 8 Thursday morning.
The home is the one-time home of Donthe Lucas and belonged to his grandmother. Lucas was dating 22-year-old Kelsie Schelling and expecting a child with her when Schelling vanished more than four years ago. Schelling was reportedly en route from Denver to Lucas' Pueblo home when she disappeared.
Gonzales said Thursday law enforcement were looking for any evidence that could be linked to the Schelling case and are only searching the backyard. No one in the Lucas family currently lives in the home; the former landlord of the property told 11 News he evicted the family last October because they "have not paid rent, ever."
"Right now detectives are in the backyard digging up and excavating some areas, just looking for evidence that will help us resolve the case or give us any clues or help us move forward in the investigation," Gonzales said.
On Friday, Gonzales confirmed evidence was uncovered, though he wouldn't say what.
"Through the process of digging things up and sifting dirt, they have come up with some items of evidence."
Gonzales said the items had been bagged and taken to a lab to be analyzed. He stressed the case itself was very much still ongoing.
Members of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and Pueblo Parks and Recreation have assisted police detectives with the search.
Schelling's mother, Laura Saxton, told 11 News anchor Dianne Derby in a
that she knows her daughter is dead and believes Lucas is responsible. She filed a lawsuit against Lucas' family, several police officers and the city of Pueblo claiming police botched the investigation.
In the lawsuit, Saxton states the last text message Schelling ever sent was to Donthe Lucas at 12:32 in the morning on February 5, 2013 asking where he was and quote "complaining that she had been waiting for over an hour for him."
The lawsuit alleges Lucas withdrew $400 cash from an ATM the following morning using Schelling's card, then parked her car at the Walmart on West Northern Avenue in Pueblo. Surveillance video did capture someone driving Schelling's car out of the Walmart parking lot, but it's not clear who is behind the wheel. The Walmart is located less than a mile from the Manor Ridge Drive home law enforcement are searching Thursday.
Schelling's car was eventually found a week after her disappearance at St. Mary-Corwin Medical Center, the last trace of Schelling in more than four years.
11 News asked Gonzales why police obtained the search warrant now versus several years ago.
"It's all based on leads we get information that leads us in one direction or another. Just recently this has just led us to this area. So now we are working on this area. ... [Law enforcement] are digging areas of the backyard currently. It's all focused on the backyard."
Schelling's supporters hope her family will soon get answers about what happened to their daughter.
This is a developing story and we will update as we learn more.