The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Suspect in newlywed deaths at Utah campsite died by suicide, officials say

Kylen Schulte, left, and Crystal Turner are shown in a photo at a vigil in Moab, Utah, on Aug. 22. (Nic Naylor/KUTV/AP)
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In August, Kylen Schulte and Crystal Turner, newlyweds who frequently camped around Moab, Utah, were found shot dead in the La Sal Mountains near their campsite. Days before, they had told friends that a “creepy guy” had been bothering them at the site and that they planned to move.

The killings put the Utah community of 5,300 on edge, but at the time, law enforcement officials shared little about their investigation.

Now, the Grand County Sheriff’s Office says Adam Pinkusiewicz, a man who had worked at the same McDonald’s as Turner, has been identified as a suspect. According to Sheriff Steven White’s announcement Wednesday, Pinkusiewicz died by suicide sometime after Schulte and Turner were found dead.

Pinkusiewicz was in the La Sal Mountains and Moab when the homicides took place, and he later described the killings to “another party” while providing “specific details that were known only to investigators,” according to the announcement. The sheriff’s office said he left the state soon after the women were killed.

The bodies of Schulte and Turner were discovered three weeks before Gabby Petito went missing and was later found dead in the Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming, a 7½-hour drive north of Moab. On Aug. 12, only a day before Schulte and Turner were last seen in public, Petito and her boyfriend were spotted bickering outside the natural foods store in Moab where Schulte worked. Petito’s boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, who died by suicide, claimed responsibility for Petito’s death in writings, according to the FBI.

A 22-year-old and her boyfriend set out on a cross-country road trip in their van. Now, she’s missing.

Charlie Mercier told The Washington Post that he worked with Schulte at the Moonflower Community Cooperative but did not know her well. “She was always smiling and happy,” Mercier said, explaining that Schulte was working at the market when he started there a year ago.

“We were all just very sad about losing Kylen,” he said, reacting to the news that Pinkusiewicz had been named as a suspect. “It’s all just stupid and senseless and it simply wants to make me cry. It’s a sad evening.”

Schulte, 24, and Turner, 38, were married in April in Arkansas, where Turner was from. Bridget Calvert, Schulte’s aunt, told The Post in August that the couple was “a single unit.”

Newlyweds told friends about a ‘creepy guy’ at their Utah campsite. Five days later, they were found shot dead.

“Kylen always had this kindness and sweetness and love,” Calvert added. “… With Crystal, she had someone she could enjoy that with.”

The women were last seen in public on Aug. 13 at a local bar, where they talked about a man who had been giving them trouble at their campsite — someone Calvert described as “a weirdo, creepy guy,” The Post reported at the time.

Three days later, Turner didn’t show up to work at McDonalds. Two days after that, on Aug. 18, Schulte’s and Turner’s bodies were found.

It’s unclear whether Pinkusiewicz worked at McDonald’s at the same time as Turner, or whether the two knew each other. The sheriff’s office said Wednesday that Pinkusiewicz was one of many people of interest in the case.

The sheriff’s office says the investigation into the deaths of Turner and Schulte will continue, despite the fact that Pinkusiewicz is no longer alive. As of now, investigators are asking anyone with more information about Pinkusiewicz or his 2007 Toyota Yaris to contact them.

Meryl Kornfield and Katie Shepherd contributed to this report.