DENVER – Kelsie Schelling’s mother says she was encouraged when investigators dug up the backyard of a home last week to search for new clues in her daughter’s disappearance, but says the search “didn’t yield the results” the family was hoping for.
Schelling’s mother, Laura Saxton, gave her first sit-down interview to Denver7 about the renewed effort by law enforcement to bring closure to the case.
Schelling, pregnant, heads to Pueblo but never returns
Schelling, 21, was 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 meet up with 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.
Last week, investigators with the Pueblo Police Department and Colorado Bureau of Investigation served a search warrant at a home in Pueblo that used to belong to Donthe Lucas’s grandmother – a home Lucas often stayed at.
Schelling’s mother talks new leads, emotions with Denver7
“This was a pretty big step on their part…a pretty big excavation they did,” Saxton told Denver7.
She and others have long thought Lucas, who was Schelling’s boyfriend and the father of her unborn child, had something to do with Schelling’s disappearance. He was once charged with the fraudulent use of her credit card after she disappeared, but the charges were dropped.
Last Friday, the investigators announced they had found new evidence during their dig, but did not specify what it was – only saying it wasn’t Schelling’s body.
Saxton says Pueblo police notified her ahead of the search, and asked that she and other family members be in Pueblo during the search in case anything turned up.
“We went into it with really high hopes,” Saxton said, though she added that she believes they should have looked at the home sooner.
She says a neighbor of the home authorities were searching let her and other family members stay there during the daytime of the two-day search.
Saxton told Denver7 that the investigations team walked her through the dig, which brought her “comfort” in seeing how hard crews were working.
“As far as items that were found, I don’t know what those were. I don’t know that they’ll tell us what those were,” she said. “But hopefully those items will be something that will help move the investigation along.”
But ultimately, investigators did not find exactly what Saxton was looking for – her daughter.
“Unfortunately, it didn’t yield the results that we were hoping for,” Saxton said. “We were hoping we would get to bring Kelsie home, so it’s been really hard in the aftermath dealing with that.”
Lucas’s grandmother no longer lives at the home investigators searched last week, and Saxton says that despite the new developments in the case, she thinks some people who might know about her daughter’s disappearance might still be afraid to talk to police about what they know.
“I still believe that somebody knows something and they’re just afraid to come forward. But I just feel like there’s a lot of fear there for people,” Saxton said. “I just keep hoping that someone will have a heart and do the right thing.”
But she says she is encouraged the Pueblo Police Department – with new investigators on the case – is taking a new look at Schelling’s disappearance with help from CBI. She had previously been critical of the way the police department handled the case initially, and has herself campaigned extensively for help finding her daughter.
“I think we’re at the very least showing that we’re not going to give up, and we might get knocked down many, many times over, but we’re always going to get back up and keep fighting for Kelsie and the baby,” Saxton said.
Still, after being missing for four years, Saxton admits that the likelihood of her daughter being found alive wane more and more each day.
“I can’t really imagine the rest of my life without her, but that’s something I’m having to come to terms with,” Saxton said. “So I hope, at the very least, we get to bring her and the baby home and give them a proper burial.”
Schelling’s family has long offered a reward for information leading investigators to their daughter or to an arrest and conviction of someone in her disappearance – upping the reward to $100,000 in February and organizing a Colorado Missing Persons Day event at the state Capitol on Feb. 3.
The reward still stands at $50,000.
Pueblo police say the investigation into the 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.