The boyfriend of a pregnant Colorado woman who vanished several years ago has been formally accused of killing her, KMGH-TV reports.
Authorities on Friday announced charges against Donthe Lucas, the boyfriend of Kelsie Schelling, who disappeared in Pueblo, Colorado, in February 2013. She has not been located but authorities are treating her disappearance as a presumed homicide.
Prosecutors have charged Lucas, 25, with first-degree murder in the case.
— Crime Watch Daily (@CrimeWatchDaily) December 1, 2017
Schelling was 21 and pregnant with Lucas’ child at the time she went missing – reportedly after traveling from her home in Denver to meet Lucas.
Police had long suspected Lucas was involved in the woman’s disappearance but had little basis to support the suspicion. The only trace of the woman was her vehicle, which was found abandoned at a hospital.
Although Schelling’s body has not yet been recovered, investigators are hopeful they will locate it soon.
“I think there is hope that we will find the body in the coming days, weeks or months,” said Dan Corsentino, a former Pueblo County sheriff, whom Kelsie’s family hired to help find the woman.
Police have already searched numerous locations this year, including Lucas’ home in April. It’s not clear what, if anything, investigators found.
The breakthrough in the case may have come from efforts by police to convince Lucas’ family members to talk.
Police in recent weeks had arrested several of his family members, including a brother and sister, on unrelated charges.
“It was difficult for law enforcement to penetrate the shroud of secrecy that existed within the Donthe Lucas family,” Corsentino said.
“I think it’s highly possible a family member or someone close to Donthe could have turned.”
At the time the charges against Lucas were announced, he was already in custody for alleged robbery and assault.
Pueblo police spokesman Capt. Kenny Rider told the television station that the agency has confidence in the charges referred to the District Attorney’s Office.
“They feel that they’re comfortable with the evidence in hand, and that we had the probable cause to move forward with the arrest and prosecution,” Rider said.
According to the Pueblo Chieftain, Schelling’s family in 2015 had sued officials alleging that police interfered in the investigation and lied about evidence. The suit also asserted that Lucas caused Schelling’s death. A judge dismissed the case last year.
But several months later, ABC’s 20/20 covered Schelling’s disappearance and renewed interest in the case.
Laura Saxton, Schelling’s mother, said on the show she will not rest until Lucas is held accountable for her daughter’s killing.
“We still have a long battle ahead of us for justice, and Kelsie has still not been found,” Saxton said. “He is still not giving her location. We will have to continue to carry on, and we have to bring her home.”
She added: “I can’t sleep at night. I hope he can’t either.”
Lucas is being held in jail without bond.
[Feature image: Faceook/Kelsie Shelling]