Mitchell woman victim of homicide; fiance arrested and questionedCrystal Schulz's disappearance leads to search, finding of body, standoff with fiance Kent Davidson
By: Chris Mueller, The Daily Republic
CHAMBERLAIN -- After days of searching by law enforcement, a missing Mitchell woman was found dead Thursday inside a shed on a farm south of Chamberlain.
Authorities have identified the deceased woman as 26-year-old Crystal Ann Schulz, according to a joint news release issued Friday morning by South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley and Brule County State's Attorney David Natvig.
Shortly after 5 p.m. Thursday, the state Attorney General's Office issued a news release asking for the public’s help in locating 36-year-old Kent Gene Davidson for “questioning regarding a homicide investigation.” A news release issued Friday by The Mitchell Police Division identifies Davidson as Schulz’s boyfriend. Each of their Facebook pages say they were engaged.
Davidson, of Mitchell, was arrested Thursday night following a standoff with law enforcement in Sioux Falls.
The investigation into the homicide is ongoing and “additional charges are anticipated," the news release adds.
It was learned Friday that Davidson had been wanted for the last five months, since he walked away from a South Dakota Department of Corrections transitional facility in Rapid City in October.
Late in the day Friday, no charges had been filed in connection with Schulz’s death and Davidson remained in custody at the Minnehaha County Jail for the parole violation.
BODY FOUND NEAR CHAMBERLAIN
The deceased woman’s mother, Agnes Clements, and her 17-year-old brother, Austin Schulz, lived in a home on the farmstead where the body was found, located about 10 miles south of Chamberlain at 25712 345th Ave., according to several neighbors who spoke Friday with The Daily Republic. That location was later confirmed by Sara Rabern, spokeswoman for the state Attorney General’s Office.
The farm appeared deserted Friday morning. The house, located just a short distance from the road, is surrounded by several farm buildings of various sizes, but none was taped off and no law enforcement was in the area.
Authorities have not said which of the buildings Schulz’s body was found in.
Natalie Ketelhut lives with her husband, Jim, and 14-year-old daughter, Laurel, on a farm directly south of where Schulz’s body was found.
“I’ve been here 19 years and we’ve never locked our doors,” Natalie Ketelhut said. “Last night (Thursday), we locked our doors.”
On Thursday morning, numerous law enforcement vehicles could be seen at the farmstead where Schulz’s body was eventually found, Ketelhut said.
Her daughter was “pretty freaked out,” and was afraid to leave the house, Ketelhut said.
“We have to remember we’re not invisible out here in the country,” she said. “Things do happen where you live.”
SEARCH FOR DAVIDSON
Schulz was reported missing on Tuesday by one of her employers, according to the Mitchell Police Division’s news release. Schulz had not gone to work for two days and had not had any contact with family members, the release says.
“Mitchell Police Division officers attempted to contact Schulz at her residence and were unable to locate or contact her,” the release says.
On Tuesday, the release says, officers searched a residence at 1021 E. Second Ave. in Mitchell, where Schulz and Davidson lived together, and spoke with neighbors, but were unable to locate or contact her, or locate her vehicle.
At that point, the Mitchell Police Division “issued an ‘attempt to locate’ notice to all law enforcement agencies in South Dakota regarding Schulz.”
The notice alerted law enforcement in the state, but did not officially list Schulz as a missing person, according to Mitchell Police Detective Lt. Don Everson.
At first, Everson said, the circumstances weren’t suspicious and did not warrant listing Schulz as a missing person.
“We received additional information after the first phone call that led us to do more,” Everson said.
Officers with the Mitchell Police Division searched Schulz’s residence again on Wednesday and “attempted to contact her and tried to locate her and her boyfriend (Davidson),” the release says.
Everson declined to say what information led to the additional search.
After the second search of Schulz’s Mitchell residence, an officer made an entry officially listing Schulz as a missing person in the National Crime Information Center, a national database for tracking crime-related information, the release says.
“There was no indication that Crystal had been to the residence,” Everson said, “or that either her or her boyfriend had been to the residence since (the Mitchell Police Division) first received this report of her being missing.”
According to Marsha Schulz, Crystal Schulz’s aunt, Davidson was driving her niece’s white, 2005 Chrysler Sebring when he was being sought for questioning. Nicole Walker, a clerk at Super America in Chamberlain, said Friday that another clerk had seen Davidson on Tuesday driving Schulz’s car and using her credit card at the gas station.
By 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Davidson had been located at the apartment of an acquaintance in the 500 block of 16th Street in Sioux Falls, according to multiple news sources.
A lengthy standoff began once state Division of Criminal Investigation agents, Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office personnel and the Sioux Falls Police Department SWAT Team surrounded the apartment complex.
The Associated Press reports Davidson was arrested at about 10:15 p.m. after crisis negotiators -- who had been speaking with Davidson on the telephone during the standoff -- convinced him to give up peacefully.
Though authorities considered Davidson “armed and dangerous,” they were unsure if he actually had a weapon during the standoff, the AP says.
Davidson has a lengthy criminal record and has served time in prison in South Dakota, first for a five-year sentence he received after pleading guilty to forgery in Tripp County in August 2010. He was given another five-year sentence after pleading guilty to one count of second-degree escape on Sept. 6, 2011, after walking away from a minimum-security unit at the State Penitentiary in Sioux Falls. That sentence was to be served concurrently, or at the same time, as his forgery sentence.
Davidson also has multiple convictions in North Dakota, with three felony convictions and at least 18 misdemeanor convictions.