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A month on, the Moab community mourns murdered couple: Local businesses offer reward, memorial service held Friday

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Kylen Schulte and Crystal Turner Vigil

The Moab community held a vigil to mourn Kylen Schulte and Crystal Turner on Aug. 22. [Alison Harford / Moab Sun News]

It’s been a month since the murder of Kylen Schulte and Crystal Turner. The tragedy has rocked the Moab community—the couple, found murdered at their campsite in the La Sal Mountains on Aug. 18, were an integral part of their friend groups, workplaces, and their family.

Schulte’s father, Sean Paul, recalls her saying that Moab was the “greatest thing ever” when he moved to the area — she loved the freedom that people had to be whoever they wanted and to go wherever they wanted.

The tragedy of the couple’s murder, and the fact that the suspect is still at-large, have threatened that feeling of freedom for many. Moab community members are shocked and grief-stricken by the crime, even those who didn’t personally know Schulte and Turner.

Kylen worked at Moonflower Community Co-op as a cashier. The co-op wrote on Facebook that they were “heartbroken” to share the news of her death, and that her “genuine kindness, radiant energy, and tireless work ethic touched the lives of countless people and will be deeply missed.” Crystal worked at the local McDonald’s, where “she’d fire the kitchen up,” Schulte said, with her southern drawl and “spitfire pistol” personality. McDonalds staff also held a memorial for the women.

Moab resident Dane Brewer said he and his wife, Wendy Wuthrich, were not acquainted with either woman, but were so moved by the tragedy that they decided to offer $10,000 through their private lending business, Sacred Earth One, to contribute to a reward fund for information leading to the conviction of the perpetrator.

“Neither one of us knew them personally, but we’re solid members of the community and just felt that it was important to provide any support that we could to help find justice for this heinous crime,” said Brewer.

Another anonymous local business had already offered $10,000; with the Sacred Earth One contribution, the reward is at $20,000.

Brewer hopes to see new information brought forward that can help bring justice for Schulte and Turner.

“Hopefully now that the FBI is involved they can use some advanced forensics and they can move the case forward,” he said. The Federal Bureau of Investigations joined the case in late August.

Both Brewer and Wuthrich have lived in Moab for over a decade, and he said they love the diversity of political perspectives and experiences of locals and visitors who are drawn to Moab from all over the world.

“We love meeting new people and showing them all the beauty around here,” said Brewer.

Now, however, Brewer noted that the area does not feel safe, with no information about a suspect who is presumably still at large.

“Initially when the Sheriff's department announced that they had found them deceased and that the Moab community had nothing to worry about…I thought that was confusing,” Brewer said.

A press release from the Grand County Sheriff’s Office on Aug. 19 announced the department was pursuing a homicide investigation and asserted that there was “no current danger to the public in the Grand County area.”

Asked by the Moab Sun News to elaborate on that statement at the time, spokesperson Shan Hackwell said that investigators believe the killings were “an isolated incident.”

When Brewer’s daughters, who are in their 20s, recently visited, he told them that it’s not safe to be camping alone in the area. He’s deeply saddened by that, and by the pain the community is going through.

“We love this place,” said Brewer. “To see a tragedy like that happen in our community is incomprehensible.”

A memorial for the women will be held on Friday, Sept. 17 at Old City Park from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The service will be a chance for family and the Moab community to remember the lives of Schulte and Turner, Schulte said.

The service will be an opportunity for community members to tell stories about the women and to bond with each other. Pastor Cole J. Howe, from the Moab Baptist Church, will say a prayer, followed by reflections from Schulte. Paninis Plus will serve food and there will be music.

“We’re getting together to support Sean Paul and hang out and eat and share stories and commiserate together,” said Cindy Sue Hunter, a friend of the family.

To report any information that may be relevant to the South Mesa Homicide case, contact the Grand County Sheriff’s Office at 435-259-8115. Officials ask the public not to leave pertinent tips on social media.

Seekhaven Family Crisis and Resource Center offers free and confidential help and support for primary and secondary victims of sexual violence and domestic abuse. Call 435-259-2229 or visit www.seekhaven.org for more information.