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Fire at former home of person of interest in Kelsie Schelling case probed as possible arson

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Posted at 3:45 PM, Jun 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-19 17:45:32-04

PUEBLO, Colo. – Authorities are investigating a fire at the former home of a person of interest in a young Denver woman’s disappearance as a possible arson, they said Monday.

Fire crews had to put out a small blaze at a home in the 5000 block of Manor Ridge Drive early Friday morning.

The home used to belong to the grandmother of Donthe Lucas, who has long been considered the prime person of interest in the 2013 disappearance of Kelsie Schelling, a 21-year-old Denver woman who was pregnant with Lucas’ child when she disappeared. Lucas lived there on and off over the years.

Crews dug through the house and backyard in April for possible evidence in the case.

But amid the ongoing investigation into Friday's fire, Pueblo Police Department spokesman Sgt. Eric Gonzales told Denver7 Monday that there was not yet any evidence that the fire was connected to the Schelling case.

“We are investigating the fire as a possible arson,” Sgt. Gonzales said. “At this point there is nothing to suggest the fire is connected to Kelsie Schelling’s case, but we are not ruling out anything until the investigation is complete.”

The police department said in April it had found evidence in connection with the case at the home, but never specified the nature of the evidence aside from saying it wasn’t a body.

On Friday, KRDO reported that Pueblo Fire Department officials said the fire was suspicious, but that investigators didn’t know if it had been set intentionally.

The spokesman for Pueblo Fire was out of the office Monday and could not return requests for further comment.

Schelling was 21 years old and eight weeks pregnant when she vanished on Feb. 4, 2013. She had her first doctor’s visit and had seen a sonogram of her baby earlier that day.

After the trip to the doctor and a shift at work, the Denver woman drove two hours south to Pueblo to visit Lucas, and has never been seen since.

Lucas was found to have parked her car at an area Walmart the day after she disappeared, and an unidentified man picked it up and eventually dropped it off again at the St. Mary-Corwin Medical Center. Police recovered the vehicle Feb. 7.

Schelling was never seen in surveillance video at either location.

Investigators discovered through text messages that Schelling and Lucas had talked to one another once she had reached Pueblo, but the messages stopped shortly after she got there.

Pueblo police say the investigation into the Schelling case remains ongoing and that they are looking for tips related to the case. To submit anonymous tips in the case, contact Pueblo Crime Stoppers at 542-STOP or go to their website. You can also contact the Colorado Bureau of Investigation at 303-239-4300.