Moab authorities close Kylen Schulte, Crystal Turner case, citing evidence against dead murder suspect

Investigators said Thursday that if the man was alive, they would have enough evidence to convict him.

Southern Utah authorities are no longer investigating the August 2021 killings of newlywed couple Kylen Schulte and Crystal Turner in Moab, announcing on Thursday that the case is now considered closed.

The announcement came about seven months after the Grand County Sheriff’s Office in May first publicly identified a suspect in the case: Adam Pinkusiewicz, a former employee at a McDonald’s in Moab where Turner worked.

Pinkusiewicz died by suicide about a month after newlyweds Turner, 38, and Schulte, 24, were found fatally shot near their campsite in the La Sal Mountains outside of Moab on Aug. 18, 2021, about four months after their wedding.

(Bridget Calvert) Kylen Schulte and Crystal Turner fell in love after bonding over their passion for the outdoors. Just four months after their marriage, their bodies were found in the South Mesa area of the La Sal Mountains near Moab.

When authorities first named Pinkusiewicz as a suspect, they noted his September 2021 death.

At the time, however, authorities continued to investigate. But on Thursday, citing more evidence against Pinkusiewicz, the case was formally closed.

“If he was alive, this would be a situation where we have enough to place him under arrest,” said detective Carrie Rigby, an investigator with Unified Police, “and we feel like we would be able to take him to trial and get a guilty conviction.”

The evidence

Early in the investigation, Pinkusiewicz was considered a person of interest in the double homicide, officials said. But he was not questioned by police before leaving Moab.

Pinkusiewicz died by suicide in an Iowa motel on Sept. 24, 2021, and investigators did not learn he was dead until late March 2022, officials said.

Authorities said key evidence that pointed to Pinkusiewicz included footage of a Toyota Yaris leaving the couple’s campsite hours after the killings, as well as the specialized red-tipped ammo and Glock handgun used in the crime, and sightings of a bearded man near the area.

At one point in the investigation, Grand County investigators attempted to make contact with Pinkusiewicz in another state, but the address they had been given was an old one, Rigby said. Investigators did find that a 2007 Toyota Yaris that matched the footage near the crime scene was registered to Pinkusiewicz, and that the vehicle was resold in December 2021 in Waterloo, Iowa, after his death.

Once investigators made contact with Waterloo police in March, they found that Pinkusiewicz had used the same type of ammo used in the Utah killings in his September suicide, but with a different handgun.

A note left behind by Pinkusiewicz also stated that he had been terminated from a job by “lefty liberal bosses” for not working fast enough. Investigators found that an argument took place in early August 2021 at the McDonald’s where he and Turner worked.

An unnamed manager at the time had told him to work faster, investigators said, and Pinkusiewicz responded by “getting into his manager’s face” and “making derogatory comments about their sexuality.” Other coworkers recalled that Pinkusiewicz said that he “should take [the manager] outside and kick her ass,” after the argument.

The manager was not Turner. But around the same day, Pinkusiewicz had also apparently gotten separately upset with Turner when she made herself and Schulte sandwiches at the restaurant while Turner was not in uniform, but investigators do not believe there was a public argument between the two.

At the time, McDonald’s workers were wearing masks amid COVID-19 restrictions and the two did not work the same shifts, so Turner may not have known who Pinkusiewicz was, investigators said.

The alleged confession

In May, officials announced that Pinkusiewicz was a suspect in the case because they learned he had revealed details of the case that were otherwise only known to authorities. Investigators said Thursday that Pinkusiewicz had told his significant other of the crime, whom he had contacted a few days after the killings and later traveled to visit in Waterloo on Aug. 27, 2021.

Authorities this year traveled to Waterloo to meet with Pinkusiewicz’s significant other, whom they verified was not in Utah at the time of the killings. The man immediately told investigators that he knew they were there to talk about the two people Pinkusiewicz had killed in Utah, Rigby said.

“The [significant other] said Adam had told him that he killed the two people, and that they were women,” Rigby said. “He said that he also shot them both because one of the women that was there was a woman that he worked with, and he didn’t like her because she was bossy.”

Pinkusiewicz told the man that he shot the two women in the tent — information that was only known to authorities, Rigby said. The man also told officials that he did not do anything with the information because he was scared of Pinkusiewicz, and was unaware that Pinkusiewicz had died by suicide until authorities informed him.

Closing the case

Through phone records, investigators found that Pinkusiewicz had previously looked up the area where the couple was killed. They also found he had made racist threats on his phone — one from March 18, 2021, stated that he had an “ongoing impulse” to “kill or rape people,” and that he was worried he was going to follow through with it.

The memos showed Pinkusiewicz was increasingly paranoid, tracking license plates for unknown reasons and tracking people that he had seen, Rigby said.

“In his actions, there were [signs he was homophobic]; there were comments he had made to other people that would indicate that he was homophobic; but the unfortunate part is we don’t know the whole dynamic,” Rigby said, noting that Pinkusiewicz’s significant other was male.

No DNA evidence links Pinkusiewicz to the crime scene, Rigby said — most likely because it rained at the campsite for about two days before the bodies were found, and because much of Pinkusiewicz’s personal belongings were not kept after his death.

“As far as his phone tracking, there’s nothing to say that he was stalking them,” Rigby said. “Adam and Crystal worked together; Adam knew the business where Kylen worked at so I know he had been in there. ... There’s a good chance it may have just been chance meeting that he had found them.”

(Bridget Calvert) Kylen Schulte and Crystal Turner fell in love after bonding over their passion for the outdoors. Just four months after their marriage, their bodies were found in the South Mesa area of the La Sal Mountains near Moab.

Schulte and Turner were last seen leaving Woody’s Tavern in Moab on Aug. 13, 2021. As they were camping, they complained to friends about a “creepy guy” near their campsite who intimidated them. Schulte warned her friends that “if something happens to us, we were murdered,” court filings show.

They were found dead five days later by Moab art collector Cindy Sue Hunter, who had set out on a personal search-and-rescue mission. Hunter knew Kylen Schulte’s father, because she had featured his art in her gallery. She was on the phone with him when she found the couple’s car, then one of their bodies, she said, quickly reporting the discovery to the Grand County Sheriff’s Office.

Family members have said that Schulte and Turner fell in love after bonding over their passion for the outdoors. They first met while Kylen Schulte was on a hike with her father.

Schulte was buried in Billings, Montana, where the Schultes are originally from, family said. Turner was from Arkansas. Turner’s family had planned to give the Schultes a locket with Turner’s ashes inside, Schulte’s father had said.

In the weeks after they were killed, Schulte’s father set up a clue booth in a public park in Moab, searching for potential leads in absence of public updates from authorities. It is unclear if his efforts led to investigators identifying Pinkusiewicz as a suspect, or closing the case.