Dead Mitchell woman's fiance was a wanted escapeeMan Crystal Schulz shared Mitchell house with had long criminal record, had walked away from Rapid City prison
By: Tom Lawrence, The Daily Republic
Crystal Schulz was a trusting, friendly woman who was quick with a smile, according to a family member, a friend and some co-workers.
“I don’t think she had an enemy in the world,” said Shannon Bartscher, the manager of the Casey’s General Store in Mitchell, one of two places in Mitchell where Schulz worked.
But the man Schulz apparently fell in love with, and shared her home with, Kent Davidson, was a wanted criminal with a long record of arrests and convictions in South and North Dakota. He is now in custody and is being questioned in connection with her death.
Schulz, 26, was a Mitchell native and a 2005 Mitchell High School graduate.
Her body was found Thursday in a shed in rural Chamberlain, three days after her family became alarmed when she seemed to have vanished. She died Monday, according to a death notice submitted to The Daily Republic.
Few details on her death, which has been labeled a homicide, have been released by authorities. No one has been charged for the death.
Davidson,The Daily Republic learned Friday, had been a wanted man the last five months, since he walked away from a South Dakota Department of Corrections transitional facility in Rapid City in October.
FAMILY, FRIENDS STUNNED
Schulz’s aunt, Marsha Schulz, of Chester, said she was stunned by the news that Crystal was dead, even after the family had been concerned about her since Monday after her brother became alarmed when she wasn’t at a family home in Chamberlain.
“Austin came home, and Crystal’s shoes were in the house,” Marsha said Friday, referring to Crystal Schulz’s brother. “Something wasn’t right.”
Crystal Schulz almost always showed up for work, or for other commitments, her aunt said. When she didn’t, she called.
But on Monday, she seemed to have vanished, which made her brother, and her mother Agnes “Aggie” Clements, very apprehensive.
“That’s when alarm clocks were flying,” Marsha said. “She would call. She would always call. Agnes knew something was wrong.”
After more than two days of searching for her, authorities discovered her body in a shed on a farm place 10 miles south of Chamberlain on Thursday morning.
Marsha Schulz, who was still speaking of her niece in the present tense Friday, said she hopes the family learns what happened to cause her death.
“It’s just not right,” Marsha Schulz said.
She said Crystal was a “very upbeat little girl” who was a joy to be around. She loved cats, the color orange and country singer Kenny Chesney.
“Kenny Chesney, oh she loved him,” Marsha said. “I am so glad she got to see him in concert.”
Marsha Schulz babysat her niece years ago, and when she lived in Mount Vernon they spent a lot of time together. After Marsha moved to Chester, she saw her less often, Marsha said.
There are two photos of Crystal Schulz in the 2005 Mitchell High School annual. In addition to her senior photo is a picture of her throwing the discus for the MHS track team.
Marsha Schulz said she was aware Crystal was working two jobs, and didn’t mind that at all.
”She’s a little workaholic,” she said. “She’s always grinning.”
Eric Klooz, executive director of the Abbott House in Mitchell, said Schulz started work there on May 5, 2011. The Abbott House is a private charity that provides residential treatment services to girls between the age of 7 and 17.
She was a teaching counselor who worked with girls in the intake unit, Klooz said.
“She was great. She was good staff,” he said. “She was dependable and on time and good with the kids.”
When she didn’t come to work Monday and Tuesday, and no one had heard from her, the Mitchell Police Division was called.
“Her mom was checking in a lot,” Klooz said. “You always hope it was something else, or something came up, or they decided to go somewhere else. You just don’t think something like this is going to happen.”
He said he had no inkling of anything being wrong prior to the disappearance.
“I did not know of anything,” Klooz said. “Nothing had come up.”
The staff was told Thursday of her death, he said, and residents were told Friday morning once therapists and unit directors were available to go to classrooms and break the news.
“It was difficult for a lot of the kids. Since she was in the intake unit, she knew most of them,” Klooz said. “But kids are resilient. We’ll work through it.”
Bartscher said she hired Crystal Schulz at Casey’s about eight months ago. They got along from the start.
“I loved her like a sister,” she said. “Here we’re all family anyway.”
Bartscher said Schulz never missed a day of work. She worked weekends, since she also worked at the Abbott House, but she never seemed tired or grumpy.
“She liked to work. She wasn’t afraid to work,” Bartscher said. “She was one of those employees you would love to have.”
She had met Davidson, and said he seemed pleasant. Schulz never indicated the couple were having any problems, Bartscher said.
Marsha Schulz had never met Davidson, but said her family members had, and they liked him.
“Aggie had met him, Austin had met him,” she said. “He came off as a very nice gentleman. We all thought Crystal finally found her perfect soul mate.”
LIVED TOGETHER IN MITCHELL
The couple lived at 1021 E. Second Ave., a block from Longfellow Elementary School. The house was quiet Friday, but a welcome sign was still posted on a wall near the front door.
Tim Hartman, who lives across the street at 1016 E. Second Ave., said Schulz’s parents lived in the house before they moved to Chamberlain. Their daughter then was the primary occupant, Hartman said, but he saw Davidson appear a few months ago.
This week, he didn’t see either one of them, he said. But Hartman said police officers were at the house, and a Mitchell Police Division memo said the house was searched twice and she was listed as a missing person on a national database.
The police were also looking for Davidson, and for Schulz’s car, the memo states.
The couple had been involved since last fall.
A Dec. 2 post on Crystal Schulz’s Facebook page says this: “he asked and i said YES..... i love you kent Davidson.” On his Facebook page, Davidson lists Oct. 28, 2012, as their anniversary date. That was 17 days after he disappeared from the Rapid City DOC unit.
Just after 5 p.m. Thursday, the state Attorney General's Office issued a news release calling for the public’s help in locating Davidson, 36, for questioning in a Brule County homicide.
Davidson grew up in North Dakota, according to his Facebook page, which lists him as having attended Beach High School. According to Dickinson High School records, he attended DHS for his freshman and sophomore years, and part of his junior year from 1991 to 1994. He did not finish his junior year and left the school in February 1994, according to school records.
He also lived in Winner, Shepherd, Mont., Jamestown, N.D., and other places, according to an online search of known addresses for him.
Davidson states that he is a “Former Shift Supervisor at Ruby Tuesday of Bismarck” on his Facebook page, and also said he studied at Bismarck State College.
Davidson had another, darker side.
He was given a five-year sentence after pleading guilty to forgery in Tripp County in August 2010. Two other charges for third-degree burglary were dropped.
He also had two speeding ticket convictions and one for driving without wearing a seat belt.
On April 25, 2011, Davidson walked away from Unit C, a minimum-security unit at the State Penitentiary in Sioux Falls. He was caught in Sioux Falls and returned to custody three days later.
Davidson was charged with one count of first-degree escape, two counts of second-degree escape, and as a habitual criminal for the escape. Three of the four charges were dismissed after he pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree escape on Sept. 6, 2011.
He was given a five-year sentence to run concurrently with his sentence on the forgery conviction.
But on Sept. 14, 2012, Davidson was deemed eligible for the Department of Corrections’ Community Transition Program. He was transferred from the Sioux Falls prison to the Black Hills Correctional Transition Center in Rapid City, a minimum-security facility that just opened in May 2012 and offers work release and other options for many of its 200 or more inmates.
Davidson faced at least two more years on parole, according to Mandy Nielsen, a DOC corrections specialist. His earliest release date was April 28, 2014, but he would remain on a suspended sentence for two more years, Nielsen said.
On Oct. 11, 2012, he disappeared from parole supervision.
“He is an absconder,” Nielsen said.
He was listed as fleeing, or absconding, from the facility, and a warrant was issued for his arrest. That warrant was served when he surrendered Thursday night in Sioux Falls after a standoff with police, and he is being held in the Minnehaha County Jail, according to a county corrections officer.
Davidson has multiple convictions in North Dakota, with three felony convictions, on charges of theft, forgery and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, as well as 18 misdemeanor convictions on charges ranging from shoplifting to contempt of court to forgery.
A friend of Crystal Schulz’s who requested anonymity said Friday that Schulz did not know about Davidson’s criminal past.
When he was being sought Thursday, authorities said he was “considered armed and dangerous.”
Davidson has several tattoos, including a skull, roses and dagger on his upper left arm; a skull, scorpion, the letters “ELR,” a heart and the word “forever” on his right arm; and a scorpion on the back of his neck.
He was spotted at a residence in the 500 block of West 16th Street late Thursday afternoon in Sioux Falls. Soon the apartment was surrounded by state Division of Criminal Investigation agents, with assistance from Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office personnel and the Sioux Falls Police Department SWAT Team.
He surrendered shortly after 10 p.m. Thursday.
According to Marsha Schulz, Davidson was driving her niece’s white, 2005 Chrysler Sebring when he was being sought for questioning. He was held on a warrant for violating parole and was only listed as someone who was wanted for questioning in the homicide.
Marsha Schulz said she believes Davidson killed her niece.
“I just hope he says why,” she said. “Give the family some closure. Why?”
Marsha Schulz said her heart went out to Crystal’s mother and brother. Aggie Clements and her two children were very close, Marsha Schulz said. She said she wasn’t certain of the relationship Crystal Schulz had with her father.
The family has asked for donations to a memorial fund at any branch of the Fulton State Bank.