Meanwhile, Cindy Sue Hunter lived in constant fear of being framed for something she didn’t do, and became an outcast in her neighborhood, she told The Daily Beast on Thursday.
Hunter, 64, found the remains of Kaelen Schulte, 24, and Crystal Beck, 38, in the La Salle Mountains four days after they disappeared last August. The two, who had earlier told friends that they had been spooked by a “creepy” man they met while camping in the area, were shot dead. The horrific double murder made national headlines and alarmed Moab’s 5,200 residents. It was an especially unbearable loss for Schulte’s parents, who had already lost their teenage son to a shooting in 2015.
She first met Hunter Schulte the following year, and became friends with her father, Sean Paul. After the two went missing, Hunter said she was frustrated by what she saw as an ill-advised search and rescue effort by law enforcement. Therefore, she went to look for women on her own.
“If I wasn’t pulled as a suspect, I think I’d be elated and overjoyed.“
Hunter started at McDonald’s where Beck worked, and where she and Schulte parked their camper van. As she told The Daily Beast at the time, “Hunter wanted to feel his energy and feel where he is.” She then drove into the mountains, and drove for several hours while “talking loudly to the girls, begging them to give me a signal.” As she made her way through the wilderness, Hunter described feeling something she couldn’t quite explain.
“When I went to run Warner Lake, I didn’t want to say I had voices in my head, but I was told ‘Go straight and faster,'” she said. “He just kept repeating. I was going toward Sand Flats Trail, and out of the corner of my eye I saw a flash of silver through the trees and saw a camping site on a hard little side road. Very easy to miss. That’s when I found their car.”
Hunter then found Schulte’s body, and ran back to her own car. The doors were closed and the police were called. When the officers arrived, they found Beck’s remains, according to Hunter.
In the aftermath, the community celebrated Hunter as a hero for locating the women and bringing some semblance of closure to their families. But her small art store was unable to withstand the epidemic, and Hunter was forced to close and leave town. Then a week after she moved to a new place, her life really turned upside down.
“They served me with an injunction last month and told me I was a suspect,” Hunter told the Daily Beast. “It frightened me so badly, I felt like I would be framed to commit this horrific murder.”
“They didn’t have any answers for us until Doug came into town.“
She remembered that three cars loaded with Representatives from the Greater County Sheriff’s Office showed up at Hunter’s new home and threw a bomb at her.
“They said my story kept changing, which it didn’t,” said Hunter, who said she took photos of the crime scene with her phone to officially document her discovery. “They said my phone was hopping there [near the murder scene]And I said, Of course I did – I told them I went up there a few times a week in the summer… They told me it was not usual for people to take pictures at crime scenes. So they thought I might be hiding something. That’s basically what they told me.”
Hunter, whose phone was seized by deputies, said she was treated “terribly,” and that she was considering suing the mayor’s office for the surreal turn of events.
“All I did was find them, and because of the way I found them, that made me suspicious,” Hunter said Thursday. “They do not believe [the] supernatural. I found them in a way not meant for them, and that made me suspect.”
Yesterday, Grand County authorities identified 45-year-old tramp Adam Pinkosevic as the alleged killer.
Pinkosevic, who died by suicide in September, worked at the same McDonald’s restaurant as Beck, according to Grand County Sheriff Stephen White. In a statement, White said Pinkosevich was “in La Salles and Moab at the time of the murders,” and fled the state shortly thereafter. “He informed another party that he had killed two women in Utah and provided specific details that were only known to investigators,” White said in a statement before his death, adding that the investigation was still open.
Since his daughter’s murder, Sean Paul Schulte has maintained a presence in Moab, running an “information booth” to receive any advice people might have. He told a local radio station he first heard Pinkusiewicz’s name “months and months ago” as “one of many people of interest,” but said investigators were unable to locate him. Pinkusiewicz was finally identified as a suspect on May 11, a few days after the reality TV star Dog the Bounty Hunter has appeared to help the detectives.
White said in his statement that investigators continue to address “critical and recent evidence discovered” in the case, including a 2007 Toyota Yaris from Pinkusiewicz, which authorities recently identified and seized. But Hunter was still shocked by the police, who said they had not yet told her she was acquitted. As a result, she finds it difficult to feel any sense of closure and is reluctant to take the mayor’s announcement at face value.
“I’m struggling with that because if I wasn’t pulled as a suspect, I think I’d be thrilled and overjoyed,” Hunter told the Daily Beast.
As it is, she said she’ll wonder how to handle it.
“They didn’t have any answers for us until Doug came to town,” Hunter continued. “We’ve all been waiting for the answers for nine months and then the dog comes into town and [suddenly] Do they know who did it? I wish it was him, that he died and we don’t have to deal with that monster anymore. But I struggle with the fact that they know [it was him]…and let’s hang out here.”
The Grand County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast’s requests for comment.
Describing Hunter last month as a “living hell,” she said she desperately hopes things will get better for her now. She said that her new neighbours, who initially welcomed her warmly, suddenly turned cold after they saw the deputies withdraw and surround her house.
“I moved on and I was supposed to start a new life,” Hunter explained. “And [when the police came]All the neighbors have seen, no one will talk to me now. Before that happened, people would come to my door, give me their phone numbers, and welcome me into the neighborhood. None of them will answer the phone or answer my calls. They no longer wave. It definitely hurt me.”