UPDATE April 13, 2017: A spokesman for the Pueblo Police Department confirms they are following up on a tip in the disappearance of Kelsie Schelling, last seen in 2013, KOAA reports.
It was supposed to be an exciting new chapter for Kelsie Schelling. She had just found out she was pregnant with her first child. But instead the young mother-to-be would end up the subject of a tragic mystery.
Kelsie Schelling was over the moon. She had just seen her unborn child on an ultrasound, and she sent that photo to her on-again/off-again boyfriend. Hours later she vanished.
Kelsie's mother Laura Saxton can barely hold back the tears. Her beloved daughter disappeared less than two weeks before her 22nd birthday on February 4, 2013.
Kelsie had eyes for only one man: 6-foot-8-inch-tall basketball star Donthe Lucas. They had met in junior college. Kelsie's mother says she was never a big fan of the basketball forward.
"He probably didn't want to be in a steady relationship, but yet he didn't want to let her go and he didn't want somebody else to have her either," said Saxton.
Then geography threw a roadblock on the road to romance: Donthe transferred to a college in Kansas. Kelsie went the other direction, to a college in Southern California.
"They were done at that point," said Saxton. "I was glad she was moving on to other things."
But California was too expensive, so Kelsie returned to Denver and went to work at a local store.
"Shortly before she was going to move back, they started communicating again via text and Facebook and talking on the phone and all that," said Saxton.
She says Kelsie and Donthe got back together, and then the unexpected happened: Kelsie got pregnant.
"He was on his holiday break so that's when they were together in Denver spending time together," said Saxton. "According to Kelsie he was very upset about the pregnancy."
"Like one day he was kind of maybe a little bit better with it, and then the next day he was not OK with it," said Saxton. "It was kind of a roller-coaster, and so I would ask her 'Do you think Donthe's going to be involved or not involved?' And she was like 'Well, I'm about 98-percent sure he's not going to be involved.'"
On the morning of February 4, 2013, Kelsie went to the doctor for an ultrasound. Kelsie was so excited she texted the picture of the sonogram to her mom, and even shared it with Donthe and his mother.
"She had said 'Everything's good, my due date is September 13th, and the doctor said everything looks good,' and she was happy and everything, and unfortunately I never got to talk to her again," said Kelsie's mother Laura Saxton.
Kelsie's parents say Donthe texted Kelsie asking her to meet him that night. She left work at 8:41 p.m. When Kelsie's friends and her mother didn't hear from her the next day, they panicked. Saxton filed a missing-persons report with Denver Police.
"When we finally filed the missing-persons report I called Donthe right away to ask him if he knew where she was, and he had said that he had seen her and that they got in a fight," said Saxton. "I said 'We can't find her,' I said she's missing."
"And he's like 'OK.' I mean no alarm, no nothing, just 'Oh OK, yeah if I hear anything I'll let you know,' and then shortly after that I hear back from him, and he's like 'Well, Kelsie just called me from a private number, she said she lost her phone and that she'll be getting a hold of you soon.' And after that never really heard anything more from him."
Kelsie's dad, Doug Schelling, says he frantically texted her.
"I got a text message back, it says 'I'm not feeling good, I'm laying on the couch, I'll talk to you tomorrow,'" said Doug Schelling. "Her friends also they kind of, after we put everything together, we kind of realized that hey, that doesn't even sound like Kelsie after we look at it.
"And we all kind of realized that somebody else must have had her phone and was texting us back just to pacify us."
Schelling says three other people were already under the police microscope. It was Kelsie's own parents, and her brother.
"We got interrogated in downtown Denver when Kelsie was missing, and they took me in, and they took my son in and Laura in and they were good, I mean they were really good here in Denver. I mean it was unbelievable, they flat-out just was blaming me, 'You did it didn't you?' And I was like 'No I didn't,' you know, and I tell you what, it was tough on me."
But Kelsie didn't go missing in Denver. She was two hours and 115 miles away in Pueblo, Colorado, Donthe's hometown.
When investigators realized that Kelsie didn't disappear in Denver, but 115 miles away in Donthe's home town of Pueblo, the parents were off the hook -- and Donthe was in the hot seat.
"We believe that she was killed," said Pueblo Police Captain Eric Bravo, the detective in charge of Kelsie Schelling's case.
"There was some tension with Donthe," said Bravo. "I think this pregnancy probably played into that."
"I think she came to Pueblo and met Donthe, I believe there was some argument that escalated between the two," said Bravo. "I believe that she was killed. I believe Donthe is responsible. He's certainly a person of interest at this point."
Police say surveillance videos back up that claim, although Donthe Lucas has never been arrested or charged in connection with Kelsie Schelling's disappearance.
Donthe told cops he asked Kelsie to meet at their so-called "special place" just down the street from his house. He said that she wasn't feeling well, so he took her to a hospital, and then to a Walmart store, where they sat and talked.
But surveillance video from that Walmart seems to contradict Donthe's story.
It shows Kelsie's car pulling into a parking spot around noon. Donthe is seen getting out of car and walking away. He's the only one seen getting out of the car. Then at 7:19 the next morning, the camera catches a tall, thin, unidentified man in a gray hooded sweatshirt walking to Kelsie's car. Cops can't make out his face. He gets in without hesitation and drives off.
"They're not definitive that it is him, there are some characteristics that I feel are unique to him, they're not of a quality where you can make out a face," said Capt. Bravo.
Kelsie's car sat in the parking lot for more than 18 hours, and the video shows that no one else got in or out.
Where did the man in the hoodie take Kelsie's car? Eight days later cops found it abandoned in the parking lot of a different hospital, ironically on Valentine's Day. But there was no sign of Kelsie.
A bank surveillance camera one day after Kelsie vanished captures Donthe Lucas at a drive-thru ATM withdrawing $400 from Kelsie's account.
The video was enough for cops to arrest Donthe Lucas on a charge of identity theft. Donthe was in custody for allegedly stealing Kelsie's cash, but cops really wanted to know, Where was Kelsie?
Donthe told police that he brought Kelsie to Parkview Medical Center because she wasn't feeling well. He says that she was inside for about two hours and when she came out, she was no longer pregnant. A couple of problems with that story: Hospital officials say they have no record of Kelsie being there, and security cameras back that up.
"I think he tries to come up with stories to lay the foundation that maybe she lost the baby and she was upset, she left town," said Capt. Bravo. Does Bravo think Donthe was lying? "Absolutely, yeah."
During interrogation, Donthe did seem sure of one thing, claiming he might not be the father of Kelsie's child. Donthe actually questions whether he was the father of Kelsie's baby.
The identity theft charge was dropped because it was revealed that Kelsie had given Donthe permission to use her debit card, and even gave him her personal identification number.
Kelsie Schelling is constantly on Pueblo Police Captain Eric Bravo's mind. Does he think there's any possibility that Kelsie is alive?
"I don't think so, no," said Bravo.
Who is the man in the hooded sweatshirt seen on Walmart parking lot surveillance video? If police can determine that, they may be able to finally be able to solve the mysterious disappearance of Kelsie Schelling.
The family is so convinced Donthe played a hand in getting rid of Kelsie that at one point they even filed a civil wrongful death lawsuit against him.
And they're not alone. Pueblo Police say they also suspect Donthe may have killed Kelsie. Currently Kelsie's boyfriend at the time, Donthe Lucas, a former high school basketball phenomenon, is considered a strong person of interest. So Crime Watch Daily went to Colorado to try to get his side of the story.
"We know he's the last person that was with her, last person to see her alive, the last person to talk to her," said Pueblo Police Capt. Eric Bravo. "I believe he did kill Kelsie."
Police say the Walmart surveillance video shows Donthe parking Kelsie's car at around 12 noon the day after she arrived in Pueblo to meet him. But then, an image from another Walmart camera shows a different car that cops say belongs to Donthe's mother, Sara Lucas, presumably waiting to pick Donthe up, at 12:08 p.m., according to the time stamp in the video.
Does Bravo think she had something to do with Kelsie's disappearance?
"I can't discount that at this point," said Bravo.
No charges have ever been filed against her related to this investigation.
Kelsie's car was ultimately found several days later at a different hospital parking lot almost three and a half miles from the Walmart.
What Kelsie's parents say cops found inside the car at the hospital is bizarre: Peanuts were littered all over the seat; Kelsie's beloved tie-dyed teddy bear was gone, as were her rosary beads.
Despite what appears to be a mountain of circumstantial evidence, cops have never arrested Donthe in connection with her disappearance.
The seemingly slow wheels of justice in this case have sparked angry protests in Pueblo, Colorado, with marchers carrying signs and demanding cops arrest Donthe.
But Captain Eric Bravo says justice delayed doesn't necessarily mean justice denied.
"The case is very complex. At this point we haven't located Kelsie's body, that's a major hurdle. It's a puzzle to put together," said Bravo. "All those pieces need to come together to form a picture to explain what happened, and we need to be able to put that case together to get a conviction in court."
"At this point he knows he's a person of interest," said Bravo. "We may have only more shot at him, and we won't bring him in until we have enough to arrest him."
Crime Watch Daily tried to contact Donthe, but we couldn't reach him. So we went to his house looking for answers. We found Donthe leaving the home he shares with his mother. But he drove off without speaking a word.
"They've looked at our property, there's nothing to say my son did anything wrong. What is their motivation?" Sara Lucas said.
It's been four years since Kelsie vanished.
"I'll keep searching," said Kelsie's mother Laura. "I haven't found her yet, so I have to keep searching for her, because I can't live the rest of my life like this, I just can't. Some people might think it's silly after four years to keep going out and searching for her, but I couldn't stop if I wanted to. I couldn't."
Laura Saxton says the reward is being increased for the entire month of February from $50,000 to $100,000, telling Crime Watch Daily that "the terms of the reward are for the direct return or location of Kelsie. We have to find Kelsie in order for the reward to be given."