DENVER (CN) - The Pueblo, Colo. police department botched the investigation of the presumed murder of a 22-year-old pregnant woman and lied to her parents about evidence, her parents claim in court.
Kelsie Schelling's parents, Laura Saxton and Doug Schelling, sued the City of Pueblo and members of its police department, and Schelling's then-boyfriend, Donthe Lucas, and members of his family, on Feb. 5 in Federal Court.
Kelsie Schelling drove from Denver to a Pueblo Wal-Mart on Feb. 4, 2013 to talk about her pregnancy with her boyfriend, Lucas, a former basketball player at Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, Colo., according to the lawsuit. She has not been seen or heard from since.
Her parents claim that Schelling arrived at the Wal-Mart late that night, but Lucas was not there.
"At 12:32 a.m., in the early morning hours of Feb. 5, 2013, Kelsie sent Donthe a text message wanting to know where he was, complaining that she had been waiting for over an hour for him," the complaint states. "That was the last confirmed message that will indicate Kelsie was alive."
At 3:54 a.m., a phone call was made to Schelling's cell phone from Lucas's, from nearby, according to the lawsuit.
"The theory is that Kelsie had been murdered before this call was made and that the call was made to Kelsie's phone to locate the phone in the dark," her parents say in the complaint.
That afternoon, they say, Lucas was seen on video surveillance driving Schelling's car to withdraw $400 from her bank account, then parking the car at the Wal-Mart, where he allegedly was picked up by his mother, Sara, and grandmother, Vivian, both of them defendants.
On Feb. 6, a man was seen on video surveillance returning to the car, accompanied by family member Dawn Shay Lucas, the lawsuit states. The vehicle was found on Feb. 14 at a hospital.
The lawsuit details a number of alleged failures by the police department, including that "Pueblo police failed to retrieve evidence from the Denver Police Department to be submitted to the Colorado Crime Laboratory to obtain DNA classification required to be submitted into a national database."
When the Pueblo Police Department processed Schelling's vehicle for evidence, it allegedly claimed "the car was wiped clean, no evidence was recovered." Independent investigators hired by Schelling's parents were not convinced, and met with defendant Neal Robinson, a police detective.
"On this date, Detective Robinson confessed that he had lied to Kelsie's family about evidence found in Kelsie's car," the complaint states. "Detective Neal Robinson stated that they indeed recovered a substance from the trunk of the car that is consistent with dried bodily fluids and had also recovered two large palm prints off the front seat head rests of Kelsie's car."
Schelling's parents claim police interfered in the investigation when detectives "traveled to the residence of Donthe and Sara Lucas to advise them that a press conference was being held regarding Kelsie and that Donthe needed to go and defend himself to the media and family."
They claim that the Pueblo Police Department ignored a tip received in May 2014 about a body found in Lake Minnequa. A man whose fishing line allegedly snagged a human head and torso took Robinson to the lake to show him where the body was, but "the lake has not been searched after an individual identified a deceased person as being at the bottom of the lake."
Schelling's parents say they filed a missing person report, but no record of their daughter's disappearance has ever been logged with the Pueblo Police Department, and no case number was ever identified to them.
They seek compensation for funeral and investigation costs, and damages for wrongful death. They are represented by Lonn Heymann, of Denver.
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