Discovery of Anarae Schunk's body brings closure, sorrow

  • Article by: PAT PHEIFER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 3, 2013 - 4:54 PM

Missing U student found in grassy ditch by county mowing crew.

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Anarae Schunk, as seen in a "selfie," likely taken in a mirror. The U student had been missing since her ex-boyfriend allegedly killed a man outside a Burnsville bar.

Photo: , the Schunk family

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Within minutes of the confirmation that the body found Monday near Lonsdale, Minn., was that of missing University of Minnesota student Anarae Schunk, condolences began pouring onto a Facebook page created to help find her.

People who knew the 20-year-old woman or had children who went to school with her shared their memories. People who helped search for her or had never met her shared their condolences with her family.

“My deepest sympathies for the loss of Anarae,” Linda Wurst Rempfert posted. “She was such a smart, beautiful and caring young woman and I am so sorry she will not have a chance to carry out her life’s plans.”

Rempfert, of Savage, said by phone that her daughter went to high school and college with Schunk. She and her husband helped search for her Sunday at UMore Park in Rosemount and Monday in Apple Valley. “I just felt so helpless here,” she said. “I did want there to be closure for the family.”

Rosemount police announced about 2:30 p.m. Tuesday that the body found in a grassy ditch beside a gravel road in the 7000 block of W. 60th Street in Wheatland Township in Rice County was that of Schunk. That is about 30 miles from Rosemount, where Schunk’s trail went cold.

The body, found by county crews mowing the ditch on the south side of the road, was taken to the Hennepin County medical examiner’s office to determine the cause and manner of death. About 9 p.m. that night, police asked Schunk’s parents for her dental records.

On the afternoon of Sept. 21, Schunk’s best friend dropped her off at a Caribou Coffee in Burnsville. She was going to meet up with her ex-boyfriend, Shavelle Chavez-Nelson, to try to get back $5,000 she had loaned him while they were dating. She was seen on video surveillance going into Nina’s Grill in Burnsville that evening.

Chavez-Nelson, 31, is accused of fatally shooting a man outside the bar about 2 a.m. Sunday. Chavez-Nelson, also known as Anthony Lee Nelson, was charged last week with second-degree murder in the death of Palagor Jobi, 23, of Savage.

Nelson’s girlfriend, Ashley Conrade, 24, of Rosemount, was charged with aiding an offender for allegedly harboring him until his arrest on Sept. 24. They and others could face additional charges in Schunk’s death when the case is presented to prosecutors.

Rosemount police are seeking help from the public in the investigation. Please contact the Dakota County Sheriff’s Office tip line at 651-438-4720.

The criminal complaints in the Burnsville case said Conrade told police that after the shooting, she, Nelson and Schunk returned to her townhouse, where Schunk’s trail ended.

Tyson Schunk, Anarae Schunk’s eldest brother, said Sunday that Burnsville police told the family that investigators found his sister’s white jacket at an apartment in St. Paul and a knife connected with the case on the roof of that apartment building.

The jacket was covered in blood and had 18 to 20 holes that investigators believed could indicate stab wounds.

He and his family had pleaded Sunday for volunteers to search Lilydale Regional Park that day. On Monday, he said police apparently had found additional evidence in an industrial and farmland area of Apple Valley and at Lebanon Hills Park in Eagan. The family asked volunteers to search those areas, too, and they had been trying to set up additional searches in the following days.

Steve Matula, of Eden Prairie, whose sister, Mandy Matula, disappeared in May just before her ex-boyfriend committed suicide and who has not been found, helped the family organize those searches.

“I’m happy and sad for the family at the same time,” Matula said after learning the news that Anarae Schunk was dead.

“They’re experiencing pain, sorrow, loss,” Matula said of her family. “They want justice for Shavelle. They want him behind bars. They’re going though a lot more emotions right now than what me and my family are going through. They have that closure, but knowing it’s their daughter, it’s a whole ’nother ballgame of emotions.”

An ill-fated bond

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