Kylen Schulte: Life Is not Easy
Kylen Schulte (24) was discouraged and recovering from an abusive relationship when her dad Sean-Paul convinced her to shift with him from Montana to Moab, Utah in 2019. She later credited this move with saving her life. Kylen’s aunt Bridget Calvert characterizes Kylen as “a true free spirit that lived for the pleasure in her heart, not the hatred in the world” but Kylen’s life had already been damaged by tragedy. In 2015, her 15-year-old brother Mackeon ‘Mackey’ Schulte was accidentally shot to death in Billings, Montana by his close friend Seth Culver, 17.
Around 2.30 am on May 15, Mackeon knocked on Culver’s bedroom window, attempting to wake him. Culver startled and fired a single shot through the window. The casualty was judged to be a ‘justifiable homicide’. The Schulte family supported their son’s murderer, who was said to be ravaged. Schulte’s mum Valerie said the shooting was an accident. “You can’t let your feelings get away from what’s prudent and lawful”.
Kylen’s dad Sean-Paul hugged Culver at Mackeon’s funeral and sent him a message advising him not to throw his life away out of guilt. “Mackey loved you … be strong as u can, study and do pushups.”
Sean-Paul and Kylen were on a hike in 2019 when they met Crystal Turner (38), sometimes referred to as Crystal Beck. Though 14 years older and a foot shorter than Kylen, the two women bonded over their love of the outdoors. Soon, love flourished. On April 20, 2021, they wedded in a treehouse in Crystal’s home state of Arkansas.
By August, they were residing in their camper van in the La Sal Mountains in Utah, a famous tourist location near the Arches National Park. Kylen worked at the Moonflower Community Cooperative in Moab, where she was lauded for her work ethic. Crystal worked at Mcdonald’s but she was scheming to start a new job at Trailhead Public House across the street from the Moonflower. By all accounts, they were well-liked, in love, and had a decent life together.
“Their love just shined bright,” Sean-Paul said. “You couldn’t help but look at them and go, ‘Wow, what’s going on with these two?’ One tall, young and elegant, one short and a little bit older, leathered up and toughened up. One cares about flowers and butterflies and the other cares about Harleys and medium-rare steaks.”
Both victims were last noticed alive on August 13, 2021, at a bar called Woody’s Tavern around 9.30 pm. No one reached them or followed them out of the bar according to observers. They are also captured in security footage, in which they seem relaxed, talking and chuckling with a female friend before coming back to the table where they were sitting with a small group. Nonetheless, Kylen told friends at this meeting that a “creepy man” had been roaming close to their campsite and harassing them.
To other friends, Kylen texted a tongue-in-cheek warning that if something occurred to them, they were killed by this creepy man. Bridget Calvert verified this. “They said they were going to pack up and move their campsite, that he was still creeping them out.” A friend of the couple, Kayla Borza, who was one of the final people to see the two women alive, said: “We were just having a tremendous time, having a couple of drinks, and all they said was there was a creep [staying] next to them. And that was it.”
The following day, Kylen and Crystal failed to turn up for work. On August 18, 2021, after the couple had been out of connection for three days, local woman Cindy Sue Hunter received a call from Sean-Paul, who now resided back in Montana, begging for help finding Kylen and Crystal. He too had heard the creeper story. Cindy Sue drove around the region, growing increasingly concerned. She was still on the phone with Sean-Paul when she discovered Kylen’s remains in a creek.
Cindy Sue feared for her safety and left the scene. Crystal’s remains were found later, very close to Kylen’s. Both women had many gunshot wounds on their backs, sides, and/or chests. Police have stated that there was no clue of forcible sexual attack but they were both undressed from the waist down. One of the women was wearing a bra that had been pushed up to expose her breasts.
The couple had three vehicles: a 1987 black Ford Econoline van, a silver Kia Sorento, and a Harley Davidson. All three were accounted for, along with a camping tent and a makeshift pet shelter. Their rabbit Ruth was unharmed. The Harley Davidson was still parked in town. Inside the van was a journal full of newspaper clippings, notes, phone numbers, mail, and payment receipts.
There was also a Bible, a broken black Samsung Galaxy 8, and drug paraphernalia, including an electronic scale, a glass weed pipe, and a plastic carton with cannabis residue. Nothing initially seemed to have been stolen. The first statement made by the Grand County Sheriff’s Office stated there was no current threat to the public. This was met with some criticism. Locals thought this stance was encouraged by tourism, as opposed to any known facts in the case.
Blood, shell casings, bullet fragments, and video evidence from nearby properties were collected. A tip mentioned firearms that were stolen just weeks before Kylen Schulte and Crystal Turner were killed. One of those weapons is pretty unusual and could match the unique bullet casings discovered at the scene of the crime. “It’s a silver-colored 9 mm bullet,” Sean-Paul said.
“It’s a very specific ammo.” Four casings were also discovered, according to a search warrant from the Grand County Sheriff’s Office. An incident report from the Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office verified that a 9 mm Turkish-made pistol was reported stolen, along with a Turkish-made shotgun and bolt-action hunting rifle.
On August 19th, police checked the couple’s van, still parked at McDonald’s. According to the search warrant, the vehicle was “unlawfully acquired” and “has been used or is possessed to be utilized to commit or hide the commission of an offense” or “evidence of illegal conduct”. Another search warrant disclosed that investigators requested data from AT&T regarding a specific phone number belonging to one or both of the victims, which was never recovered.
Recently, in March this year, a private investigator claimed that police had received an audio recording from near the crime scene in which gunshots and cries can be heard. According to the PI, the audio was recorded at 11:35 a.m. on August 14, 2021, the morning after Kylen and Crystal were last noticed alive at Woody’s bar. Police admitted the audio existed and that gunshots could be heard (they did not confirm screams). They verified the date but would not disclose the time.
Hours before the corpses were discovered, a Sheriff’s Deputy made a traffic stop of a car displaying an Ohio license plate. This man acted erratically enough to attract suspicion. He had made disliked advances toward women in the past, on one circumstance presenting a red rose to a cashier at the Moonflower Cooperative where Kylen worked. He said he’d just met Kylen once briefly and refuted being involved in their deaths.
The man said he frequently slept outdoors and gave the location. Authorities discovered two blankets and a jacket stained with a substance that seemed to be blood. A forensic analysis determined that the evidence was irrelevant to the murders. Police suspected that the man had untreated mental health problems. He was later cleared and is no longer considered a suspect. Authorities have recognized many persons of interest but the Grand County Sheriff’s Office doesn’t seem to have a solid suspect. The audio recordings may alter this, however.
They were murdered by Brian Laundrie: Kylen and Crystal are frequently mentioned in another ‘van life’ murder victim, Gabby Petito. On August 12, 2021, one day before Kylen and Crystal were last noticed alive, Laundrie attacked Petito in front of the Moonflower. Kylen and Crystal witnessed this confrontation but another observer called 9-1-1. Officers recognized the van near the entrance to Arches National Park and conducted a traffic stop. As we know, Laundrie later strangled Petito, but founded on electronic transmission evidence, investigators have assumed that neither Petito nor Laundrie was involved in the killings.
They were murdered because of the shooting of Mackeon: Though it’s another awful coincidence that both Kylen and her brother Mackeon perished due to gun violence, it’s possibly not all that uncommon in the United States due to numerous factors. While I’m not completely sure that all was forgiven between the Schulte and Culver families despite their best intentions, no evidence relates the killings of Kylen and Crystal to MacKeon’s death.
They were murdered due to drugs: A phone belonging to one of the victims was missing. An electronic scale and pipe were recovered, along with a minor amount of cannabis. There were also some pills discovered in the van but they were mostly ibuprofen and amoxicillin. There is no indication that they took harder drugs or were involved in any sort of serious criminality.
They were murdered in a robbery gone wrong: Nothing is missing from any of their vehicles other than a cellphone. Kylen and Crystal’s camp was on a distant side road. The women were also shot mostly in the back, suggesting that they were running away and possibly posed little danger to the murderer. It’s hard to imagine a robber killing two women for a phone that possibly wasn’t worth much, but it does happen and it can’t be completely discounted due to the missing handset.
They were murdered by someone they knew: Kylen sent texts about the creeper and discussed him in public. Perhaps the women were murdered by someone close to them who knew where they’d be camping that night. The creeper would’ve been a convenient cover. Kylen was previously in an abusive connection with a man; I’m not confident if he was ruled out, but this was years before the killings. Overall, there seems to be little known motive for this theory.
They were murdered in a homophobic attack: Kylen and Crystal were openly in a same-sex relationship. The cleared suspect was probed about his emotions toward gay people, so police have considered the likelihood. The couple shared pictures on Instagram using the tags #vanlife and #wifelife, which could have made them prey to a bigoted stranger. Again, no proof to support this – just a theory.
They were murdered by an opportunist stranger: They may have been chosen as victims based on a random encounter or the remoteness of their campsite rather than their individuality. It’s probable that they were observed at Woody’s or elsewhere and trailed discreetly. At one time, police announced they think the suspect left the area following the killings so possibly isn’t local.
They were murdered by the creeper: It isn’t obvious whether the suspect police interviewed was the creepy guy the victims reported to their friends. There was only ever circumstantial proof against the Moonflower worker with the Ohio plates. If this was the person they feared, he’s possibly not the murderer – just a creepy guy. If Kylen and Crystal encountered a different creepy guy, he is yet to be recognized. The intention may have been sexual despite no evidence of the forcible sexual assault.
Kylen had already overcome an abusive connection and the untimely death of her brother. Crystal had likely endured battles of her own. Despite this, they seem to have left an optimistic impression on those around them. Tragically, they met such a terrible end, even more, tragic if their case is forgotten. “We are asking that anyone that would have been in the South Mesa area between the dates of August 13th, August 14th, and 15th, contact our office with anything they may have noticed or heard,” the sheriff’s office has stated. Sean-Paul is also looking for data regarding any vehicles seen coming off forestry road 4651 in the La Sal mountains around the time of the killing.