PUEBLO, Colo. -- February marks a difficult anniversary for the family of Kelsie Schelling, the pregnant Denver woman who disappeared in Pueblo five years ago.
Schelling would have celebrated her 27th birthday on February 18. Instead, her mom, Laura Saxton, wrote a heartfelt Facebook message where she talked about the moments their family has missed out on.
In her post, Saxton said, "Her birthdays would look very different now. She would be a mommy with a 4-year-old wanting to help her open her gifts and blow out the candles on her cake."
Earlier this month, her mom stood on the steps of the State Capitol for Colorado Missing Persons Day. Saxton organized the event in hopes of bringing awareness to cases like her daughter's. Schelling's body and the remains of her unborn baby have not been found.
"I’ve always known that what I wanted is to bring Kelsie home and that’s what is going to bring me peace," said Saxton.
Days later, she would mark the anniversary of her daughter's disappearance with a vigil at the Pueblo Walmart where she was last seen alive.
"I hope we don’t have to be here next year but I said that last year, and now... here we are again," said Saxton.
The past year has brought progress for Schelling's case. As her mom stood in the Walmart parking lot, the man who is accused of killing her daughter is finally in jail.
Donthe Lucas, Schelling's ex-boyfriend, was charged with first degree murder in December and he appeared in court last month. Schelling was eight weeks pregnant when she drove from Denver to Pueblo to meet with him, that was five years ago.
"The five year mark, I mean... they’re all hard — every day is hard — but somebody said half a decade and that really struck me, even though it’s the same as five years, it’s like half a decade [that] she’s been gone. How have I survived for half a decade without her?" said Saxton.
It's been a long road just getting to the point where police were able to make an arrest. From all indications, that court process will likely be a lengthy one.
Reflecting on the past year, Saxton said the case gained traction after the Colorado Bureau of Investigations stepped in. During the spring, police excavated the backyard of the home where Lucas' grandmother used to live and dug up a nearby field.
"The Colorado Bureau of Investigations has been involved in that and trying to assist with that case and you’re right, some good progress has been made on that and that’s what we’re after," said CBI Director John Camper.
The family is still offering a $50,000 reward for information about the location of Schelling and her unborn baby.