Kylen Schulte and Crystal Turner (who is also known as Crystal Beck) are a Utah couple who were reported missing on August 16, 2021, then found murdered on August 18 near their camp site in Moab, Utah.
According to Fox News, authorities were investigating a connection between the murders of Turner and Schulte and the disappearance of Gabby Petito, a New York woman who vanished while on a cross-country “van life” road trip with her boyfriend Brian Laundrie. Police in Florida say Laundrie returned to his parents’ home in North Port, Florida, without Petito and won’t speak with investigators. Authorities named Laundrie as a “person of interest” in Petito’s disappearance. He has since disappeared.
“We’re looking at everything, I mean, anything and everything that was suspicious around that time or we’re not ruling anything out at this time,” a spokesperson for the Grand County Sheriff’s Office told Fox News. “So we’re just investigating the information as it comes in.”
However, the Grand County Sheriff said in a one-sentence September 17 press release that the cases are not connected.
“It has been determined that the Gabby Petito missing person case is not related to the double-homicide case involving Crystal Turner and Kylen Schulte,” the press release said.
Petito and Laundrie passed through Moab a few days before Schulte and Turner disappeared, and they were in a domestic altercation at a community co-op where Schulte worked.
A witness reported seeing a “male had been observed to have assaulted the female” near the Moonflower Community Cooperative on August 12, according to News Nation Now. Those people were Petito and Laundrie, although when police arrived to investigate, they found a more complicated story that also involved an alleged assault by Petito against Laundrie, according to the police report.
Charles Jones, supervisory resident agent in Wyoming for the FBI, said in a September 19, 2021, press conference, “I would like to extend sincere and heartfelt condolences to Gabby’s family.”
“FBI personnel in coordination with our partners…have been conducting investigative activity… earlier today human remains were recovered consistent with the description of Gabrielle, Gabby, Petito,” he said.
Full forensic identification is not yet complete. “The cause of death has not yet been determined at this time.” Authorities were searching a Wyoming area named Spread Creek camping area when the body was found. Jones described it as a “rugged area.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Schulte & Turner Were Found Shot to Death Near a Camp Site After Being Last Seen in a Tavern
Schulte, 24, and Turner, 38, were last seen at Woody’s Tavern in Moab, Utah, on August 13, police said.
Five days later, they were found dead in a creek near their camp site in the South Mesa area of La Sal Loop Road.
In a later press release, the Sheriff’s Department revealed that the cause of death of the women was determined to be gunshot wounds.
2. Schulte Told a Friend About a ‘Creepy Man’ Around the Women’s Camp Site
The search warrant in the case revealed that authorities sought to search a van belonging to Turner and Schulte, which was left at a McDonald’s restaurant where Turner worked.
The search warrant revealed the two women were found “partially undressed with multiple gunshot wounds all over their bodies.” The Moab Times-Independent gave further details, saying the women were found “undressed from the waist down,” and one “had on a bra that was raised to expose her breasts,” according to the search warrant.
A friend reported that Schulte sent a text that said “if something happened to them, that they were murdered” and a “creepy man” was around their camp who they found intimidating, the search warrant said.
The Daily Beast spoke with a friend of the couple, Kayla Borza, who was one of the last people to see the two women alive.
“We were just having a great time, having a couple drinks, and all they said was there was a creep [staying] next to them,” Borza told The Daily Beast. “And that was it.”
A journal and Bible were among items recovered from the van.
More than $30,000 has been raised to help Schulte’s dad with funeral expenses and costs related to traveling to and staying in Moab. “We have reinstated receiving donations as we learn more about this horrific crime it is apparent the costs that Kylen’s dad will incur are not going to stop anytime soon,” a GoFundMe page says. “The details of this heinous and horrific act have resulted in more time needed in Moab. More travel costs. More lost wages. And more support needed. Sean-Paul Schulte has been the beneficiary of this fund and is currently the boots on the ground for Kylen and Crystal in the fight for justice. We thank you for your ongoing support, love and prayers.”
3. Schulte’s Dad Has Been Critical of Authorities
Schulte’s dad, Sean-Paul Schulte, who is from Montana, has posted a series of angry comments on Facebook. One read:
One thing is on my mind
WHERE THE HELL IS THE FBI?
I FOR ONE HAVE NOT SEEN ONE SINGLE PERSON. I HAVE NOT BEEN QUESTIONED BY THE FBI. I Don’t SEE OR HERE THEM??
THE GRAND CO SHERIFF IS IN CHARGE??
ARE THEY PUTTING CLUES IN A FBI DATA BASE???
IDK. AND IF I Don’t KNOW. WHO THE HELL DOES?
On September 13, he wrote, “If I had DNA I would search every data base you all suggest. I am a father in a park looking for local clues by local folks. Yes two other missing girls look like Crys. I get it. Yes one passed through Moab!!! I get that. I repeat. I am one person. A father in a park. I do not work for the FBI. Moab. I am here. Come look into these eyes. Kylen’s eyes. Tell me your clue.”
He set up a table he is calling a “clue booth” to get tips about the murder. As of September 18, the clue booth was still open.
The frustration with the handling of the case began even before the women were found dead. According to The Daily Beast, the women’s bodies were discovered by a family friend, Cindy Sue Hunter, who “felt compelled to mount her own search for the pair after becoming frustrated by what she considered a lack of progress by police.”
Hunter told the outlet Sean-Paul Schulte “was begging” police to help find his daughter and daughter-in-law, but turned to friends for help.
Police have shared condolences and reassurances to the community on social media.
“All of us at the Moab City Police Department are deeply saddened by the tragic deaths of Kylen Schulte and Crystal Beck,” Moab police wrote in a statement on Facebook. “We understand that our community has questions and that many of you don’t feel safe given the terrible circumstances of this crime. Please understand, this is an active investigation being led by detectives with the Grand County Sheriff’s Office.”
They added, “All active investigations are sensitive, and the premature or inappropriate release of information can have devastating results – including making it difficult or impossible to successfully prosecute the case. We continue to receive requests for information from the public and media. As the investigation is active, and we are not involved in the investigation, we cannot and will not provide any comment. We encourage those with questions about the case or tips for investigators to contact the Grand County Sheriff’s Office at 435-259-8115. We extend sincere condolences to Kylen and Crystal’s families and friends. Our hearts and thoughts are with you during this difficult time.”
4. Petito & Laundrie Were in a Domestic Argument in Moab
According to CBS News, Moab, Utah, police responded to a “dispute” between Petito and Laundrie on August 12. Police say both, including witnesses, say that Petito slapped Laundrie during an argument and Laundrie “grabbed her face and pushed her back.”
CBS News reported that the couple said they loved each other and didn’t want charges to be filed, so they weren’t; Laundrie told police the road trip caused arguments and “emotional strain” on the couple, the network reported.
Police released body cam footage from the encounter, which you can watch above.
Cindy Sue Hunter, the family friend who found the bodies of Schulte and Turner, wrote on her Facebook page of Laundrie and Petito, “Has Woody’s verified that they were at the bar the 13th?? That would be so flipping weird, folks are already tripping over all the speculations and presented facts as it is, how can a person get away with withholding the where abouts of a person when they were the last person with them? This lady is missing, he was with her, how can anyone begin a search when he’s withholding evidence as to her last known location????? How is that even legal??? I don’t understand. Please, someone who knows law, can you explain this to me…..”
In late August, she wrote, “I truly am so sorry to all of you that have lost and been touched by the loss of these beautiful souls. Thank you all. And please Stay safe.”
5. Police Asked Laundrie to ‘Call Us to Arrange a Conversation’
The police chief in North Port, Florida, where Laundrie lives, took the unusual step on September 15, 2021, of tweeting at Laundrie and his lawyer and asking them to speak with authorities about Petito’s disappearance.
Chief Todd Garrison tweeted at Laundrie and his lawyer, “Mr. Steven Bertolino, esq. the @NorthPortPolice needs your help in finding Gabby Petito. Please call us to arrange a conversation with Brian Laundrie. Two people left on a trip and one person returned! #wheresgabby #FindGabby #fbitampa #gabbypetito.”
Laundrie has not commented, although his family did release a statement, which provoked a sharply worded response from Petito’s family, who urged Laundrie to answer key questions in the case.
According to CBS News, Laundrie’s family released this statement: “On behalf of the Laundrie family, it is our hope that the search for Miss Petito is successful and that Miss Petito is reunited with her family. On the advice of counsel, the Laundrie family is remaining in the background at this juncture and will have no further comment.”
Petito’s family then released their own statement, according to CBS: “Brian is refusing to tell Gabby’s family where he last saw her. Brian is also refusing to explain why he left Gabby all alone and drove her van to Florida. These are critical questions that require immediate answers.”