People in Grand County are grieving the deaths of two local women, who authorities said died of gunshot wounds. The Grand County Sheriff’s Office has opened a homicide investigation into the murders. A spokesperson said the department is following up on leads but has not currently identified a suspect.
The bodies of Kylen Schulte and Crystal Turner were found by a friend in the La Sal Mountains outside of Moab on Aug. 18 after the couple had been missing several days.
On Sunday, Aug. 22, dozens of people attended a candlelit vigil in honor of the two women outside of Moonflower Market, where Schulte worked. Sunflowers and roses, illuminated by candles, surrounded photos of the couple.
Friends and community members expressed sorrow over the loss of Schulte and Turner, sharing stories and memories of the couple as kind, loving people, spreading joy to friends, family and acquaintances, with an unusual willingness to fully embrace who they were.
Many described the deep love between Schulte and Turner, who reportedly wed in April of this year; attendees and musicians sang “Light of Your Grace” and “I’ll Fly Away” in honor of the women.
Another sentiment expressed was a deep anxiety that the perpetrator of this crime is still at large.
“I, for one, do not feel safe,” said Cindy Hunter, who located the women’s camp in the South Mesa area of the La Sals.
The Grand County Sheriff’s Office issued a press release on Aug. 19 identifying the women and the cause of death, and announcing that the department was pursuing a homicide investigation. The release said there was “no current danger to the public in the Grand County area.”
Asked by the Moab Sun News to elaborate on that statement, sheriff spokesperson Shan Hackwell said that investigators believe the killings were “an isolated incident.”
Grand County has brought in help from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the State of Utah Bureau of Investigation, and other local law enforcement agencies in conducting the investigation into what authorities have determined to be a double homicide. The crime occurred within the Manti-La Sal National Forest, and that agency is also cooperating with the investigation.
“The Manti-La Sal National Forest is fully cooperating with the Grand County Sheriff Department’s ongoing investigation of this incident,” said Samantha Stoffregen, public affairs officer for the Manti-La Sal National Forest. “They are the lead investigators for this.”
On Tuesday, Aug. 24, the Grand County Sheriff’s Office gave a brief press conference with a review of the case so far, emphasizing that while the department has investigated three “suspicious, unattended deaths” so far this year, none of those deaths were determined to be homicides by the state medical examiner’s office.
“These incidents are not related to each other or to the double homicide,” said Hackwell.
Sheriff's Office officials say the last confirmed sighting of the couple was on Friday, Aug. 13 at Woody’s Tavern. The following Monday, the Moab City Police received a report that Turner had not come to her scheduled work shift. Officers checked at the organized Warner Lake Campground, Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Shan Hackwell said, and didn’t find them.
Meanwhile, the women’s family members had become alarmed and took to Facebook to urge friends to search the mountain. Friends searched dispersed camping areas where they thought the couple was more likely to be camped. Hunter found the women’s bodies at a site along the La Sal Loop Road, around a mile down the road from the Warner Lake turnoff.
At the press conference, Grand County Sheriff Steven White stepped forward to give brief remarks regarding public safety.
“Public safety is paramount to us,” he said. “We’ve increased patrols on the mountain. We’re doing everything we can. We did overflights with helicopters. I want the public to know we’re doing everything we can to maintain their safety.”
The community has also shown financial support for the families of the two women. A GoFundMe page set up by Schulte’s aunt had raised over $33,000 as of Wednesday, Aug. 25.
The fundraising page says Schulte’s father, Sean-Paul Schulte, wants Kylen to be laid to rest in Montana next to her brother. Money raised through the fund will go toward the cost of burial, travel expenses for Sean-Paul Schulte and also to the family of Crystal Turner. A second GoFundMe page has been set up specifically for Turner’s mother; as of Wednesday, Aug. 25, the account had reached $565 of the $5,000 goal.
Any information that may be of assistance in the case, or any concerns or observations of suspicious activity, can be reported to the sheriff’s office at 435-259-8115 or 435-259-8938.