Four years later, search for Kelsie Schelling still going strong

PUEBLO, Colo. – “It scares me to death that it could go on for the rest of my life. I mean that’s a possibility I don’t want to face,” said Laura Saxton, Kelsie Schelling’s mother.

It’s been four years since Kelsie Schelling seemingly vanished. The 21-year-old disappeared February 4, 2013 after driving from Denver down to Pueblo.

She was 8-weeks pregnant at the time and was supposed to meet her boyfriend Donthe Lucas at the Walmart on Northern Avenue.

Saturday afternoon, supporters met on the four-year anniversary of her disappearance at that very Walmart to show that Kelsie has not been forgotten.

“After four years, it’s so nice to see this turnout today. It’s so nice to see that so many people still care,” said Saxton to the crowd of about 100 people. “When Kelsie went missing I didn’t think she’d be gone a week and now here we are four years later and I hope we’re not here at five.”

Saxton said when Donthe found out Kelsie was pregnant, he wasn’t happy about it.

“His reaction was not good, according to her,” said Saxton.

Donthe never showed that night at the Walmart and after over an hour of waiting, Kelsie drove over to Donthe’s house on Manor Ridge Road.

What actually happened next, only a select few know, and for now no one is talking.

But Troy Griffin, a psychic medium and detective out of Westminster, has an idea.

“It’s almost like I see and feel what happened to her,” Griffin said.

Griffin has worked on more than 100 missing persons cases all over the world and said he immediately felt a connection when he saw a photo of Kelsie.

“I really connect through the eyes, so for me it was this picture that I really connected with, and I just knew that she shouldn’t have died,” said Griffin.

Even though Griffin works on the majority of his missing persons cases pro-bono, he said he stayed away from Kelsie’s case until her mother came to him last September.

“I didn’t approach it because you get a lot of pyschics approaching these cases, a lot of people want money and answers, so I kind of stayed away,” he said. “I had a client that referred Kelsie’s mom to me.”

“Our first meeting made me know that I at least needed to explore it because I did feel like he had made a connection with her,” said Saxton. “When we first met we talked for three hours and he told me some things that really struck me and that was why I decided to go ahead and give it a chance and see if we could get somewhere and get some answers with his help.”

The day after Kelsie disappeared, her car reappeared. First, at the Canon National Bank in Pueblo where surveillance video showed it was being driven by Donthe, who then, according to bank records, removed $400 cash from Kelsie’s account.

Donthe then drives Kelsie’s car back to the Walmart where he leaves it. Surveillance video showed him walking to the back of the store where he was picked up by his mother and grandmother.

The car then sits untouched until the following morning, when surveillance video shows an unknown man walking up to it, opening the door and driving off.

Seven days later, Kelsie’s car is discovered at St. Mary Corwin’s Hospital in Pueblo. It initially seemed like a breakthrough, until it was realized there was still no trace of Kelsie.

“Once her car was found abandoned, that’s pretty much when I knew that something really horrible had to have happened because she never would have left her car,” said Saxton. “So that was a horrible day.”

As the last person to see Kelsie alive and the last known person to drive her car, Donthe quickly found his way to the top of the list Pueblo police want to talk to.

Donthe is a local boy, who attended Central High School, where he stood out as a basketball star.

He had dreams of one day playing for the NBA – dreams Griffin believes were threatened by a baby.

“I think he was influenced by his mother,” said Griffin.

When asked what kind of influence, Griffin responded, “Power, control. He was going to the basketball star. She was in low income and I think it was her way out and I think that having a girlfriend that’s pregnant would have ruined his career in her eyes.”

Saxton said Donthe had no emotional reaction when she told him Kelsie was missing.

“No alarm, no nothing. It was Kelsie and his child are missing and there was nothing,” Saxton said. “There was basically no emotional reaction whatsoever. No offers to help search, no nothing.”

Griffin believes that late February night in Pueblo, Donthe tried to talk Kelsie into an abortion, but she refused, which led to a big argument.

“The thing that I saw with Kelsie is strangulation, possibly injury to the head, argument, fear, probably an act of rage,” said Griffin. “In this particular case I felt like she was strangled. I think it started in the car, I know she was drug down the hallway.”

Saxton showed Griffin a photo of the hallway and Griffin said he immediately had a reaction.

“I could not look at the picture,” he said. “When I get a really strong hit or just feel something happened, or evil there, I can’t breathe and I hyperventilate and I almost get nauseated.”

Griffin said he believes Kelsie put up a fight.

“I asked Laura who taught Kelsie how to fight, was my specific question to her, and she said her dad taught her self-defense and she did fight back,” said Griffin.

He added she fought for her life and for her baby.

“She was so happy about the baby, she was so excited about the baby  and so looking forward to being a mom,” said Saxton.

Kelsie even had a name picked out for her child, Kadrie.

“Although we don’t know the sex of the baby we just felt like the baby deserved an identity and since that’s a name that she had really liked, we went ahead and used it,” said Saxton.

Donthe was eventually arrested for identity theft for using Kelsie’s debit card, but a month later the charges were dropped.

He was then named a “person of interest” in the case, but no arrests have ever been made relating to Kelsie’s disappearance.

“I think everybody kind of believes that there are members of the family that at the very least have knowledge, at the very least, could be accessories, but Donthe is the only one that’s ever been named a person of interest,” said Saxton.

When asked if she had a message for Donthe, Saxton said there’s a lot she’d like to say to him.

“I don’t know how he lives with this. If not for Kelsie’s sake, for the baby’s sake. Please let them come home. Please let us bring them home,” she said. “Do the right thing. I know he probably hates us as much as we hate him right now because we haven’t let up and we’re not going to. So this just needs to come to an end and he needs to love his child enough to not let his child be discarded like a piece of garbage.”

Over the years, tensions have risen between Kelsie’s family and the Pueblo Police Department.

“It’s been rough, it’s been really rough. The relationship was probably good for about a month and after that it just really started falling apart and just crumbled over time and just continued to get worse,” said Saxton.

Griffin also soon became concerned about how Kelsie’s investigation has been handled.

“This Pueblo Police Department I’m very concerned about,” Griffin said.

When asked why, he points to a police report involving Donthe’s mother, Sarah Lucas.

“She never paid the rent on time. Starting February of 2013, he started to get the rent on time and never had to call her again. Later in the year he got a notice from the electric company that the utilities were shut off, went over to the property, disgusting. They had to pull up the carpet,” Griffin said. “They pulled up the carpet in one of the bedrooms and underneath the carpet was a blood stain that didn’t soak through the pad because it’s coated, but soaked through the carpet. The landlord called the Pueblo Police Department told them that they don’t deal with that and they’re not CSI Miami, and that’s in the actual police report. So this is what I’m dealing with where I say I’m not too sure about the police department, but could you imagine being the parent and hearing that?”

“We were so angry and so frustrated,” said Saxton.

In fact, Kelsie’s parents were so angry, they filed a lawsuit against the city of Pueblo, The Pueblo police officers working on Kelsie’s case at the time and Donthe Lucas and his family.

“The police are protected by qualified immunity so yes, it was ultimately thrown out,” said Saxton.

Refusing to give up, both Griffin and Kelsie’s family tried to get the case transferred to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, but Pueblo police refused to hand it off.

“To me, they’re not doing the right thing,” said Griffin. “You’ve had almost four years to work on it. You have another agency that is willing to take it on and you won’t do it. What does it come down to? Is it because of all the bad mistakes you made? Is it the ego? Do you want that little star on your shoulder? And that’s just not right.”

“I hate to say that we’re stuck with them, because they’re not going to turn Kelsie’s case fully over to CBI,” said Saxton. “We’ve asked many times and they just said they’re not going to, so basically, we have to try to make it work with them.”

Saxton said they are trying to move forward and put the past behind them.

“We have to try to do what we can to make the relationship better and give them the chance to make up for what did and did not occur,” she said.

This year on the fourth anniversary of Kelsie’s disappearance, Pueblo police and Kelsie’s family came together in a show of solidarity.

“A lot of you I know have asked and are wondering why we’re here today with the Pueblo Police Department in a joint event, so I feel like it needs to be addressed,” Saxton said to the crowd Saturday. “Pueblo PD is and will remain the lead investigative agency on Kelsie’s case. There’s new leadership over Kelsie’s case with Captain Eric Bravo and he has promised to us his dedication to investigating Kelsie’s case and bringing it to resolution, leaving no stone unturned.”

“As hard as it is after everything we’ve been through we’re just trying to let the past go, not forgetting it, but just trying to move forward, trying to give him a chance to keep his word and do what he says he’s going to do,” said Saxton.

“The pain in their voice is not lost on us. We hear that,” said Troy Davenport, Deputy Chief of the Pueblo Police Department.

The new eyes on the case, hesitant to cast blame.

“I do not think that mistakes were made. The case was worked very hard. I do think that communication might have been better,” said Davenport.

Davenport said he believes Pueblo police can still find the truth.

“I’ve said before we’re committed to collecting the truth and evidence that supports the truth,” said Davenport.

Saxton said it’s hard to continue fighting but it’s a fight she won’t quit.

“I want the answers, but if I ever did quit I don’t know how I would live with myself. This is my child, how could I give up on her?”

The answers are out there and the family said it’s time for people to come forward.

“We know there’s somebody out there, we know there’s a few people I’m sure that know where she’s at,” said Doug Schelling, Kelsie’s father. “We’ve been fighting for awhile and it’s really wearing on us.”

Kelsie’s case has now become personal for many more than just Kelsie’s family.

“I want the Lucas family to be nervous about what I’m doing,” said Griffin.

Griffin said he believes he can see where Kelsie was taken last and may still be today.

“Google Maps just led me to a place in Pueblo Reservoir that I thought was very interesting,” he said. “I haven’t had a chance to go there yet and then it’s almost like I see through her eyes what’s around that area and so it may not be in Pueblo but I know exactly what I’m looking for.”

He said he’s not going to stop looking either.

“I will follow it through, even if it’s years,” Griffin said. “I believe justice will come in the end, someway, somehow.”

“I believe that there are people who know what happened and who know where Kelsie is and I just beg of them to please, it can be anonymous, they can call Crime Stoppers, it will never be known who they are. We can find a way to get the reward to them if they want the reward, just please bring this to an end. Four years is too long,” Saxton said.

For the month of February, in honor of what would be Kelsie’s 26th birthday, the family is now offering a $100,000 reward for Kelsie’s return or information on her location.

Pueblo police said while they are not turning the case over to CBI, they are now working alongside them and the case is not cold.

Rather, it’s very active.

FOX21 News attempted to reach Donthe and his family but they did not return any phone calls and neighbors told us they recently moved out of the area.

Anyone with information is asked to call Pueblo police or Pueblo Crime Stoppers at 719-542-7867.

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