Anarae Schunk broke off her relationship with felon Shavelle Chavez-Nelson almost a year ago. But she still feared him, still felt he was “almost watching over her, always kind of knew where she was,” her best friend said Wednesday.
Still, Schunk, a 20-year-old University of Minnesota student, went with Chavez-Nelson on Saturday to Nina’s Grill in Burnsville, where he is accused of killing a man in the parking lot shortly before 2 a.m. Sunday.
Schunk hasn’t been seen since video surveillance recorded her entering the bar with him.
She wanted to try to get back $5,000 she had lent to her former boyfriend while they were romantically involved, said Sarah Chacos, Schunk’s friend since the two met in a 10th-grade algebra class at Burnsville High School.
“I will say the way they were going to get it back was very dangerous for her,” Chacos said. She declined to elaborate on what they were planning to do.
Getting the money back “was a big pride issue for her,” she said. “She felt like he had betrayed her so much, and she felt like Shavelle underestimated her. It’s really complicated.”
Phone, bank records no help
Schunk’s cellphone was turned off at 9:14 p.m. Saturday, her brother Owen said. It can’t be tracked unless it’s on, but the family has learned that in the handful of calls she made or received before it was turned off, one number appeared 33 times, he said.
There has been no activity through her bank or credit card accounts. The family is hoping that Schunk is hiding for fear of Chavez-Nelson or his associates and will eventually be found. Her loved ones have put up fliers at bus stations, bus stops and other places she liked to go.
She didn’t drive and took public transportation from her family’s home in Burnsville to the university until a month ago, when she moved into the University Commons student housing near campus, her brother said. Her most frequent bus stops were at the Mall of America and the transit station between Hwy. 13 and Diffley Road in Eagan. She spent time at the Caribou Coffee at Hwy. 13 and Cliff Road and at the billiards parlor across the street.
Chavez-Nelson, 31, of Eagan, was arrested Tuesday near Shannon Parkway and County Road 46 after he left a residence in Rosemount. He was being held in the Dakota County jail under the name Anthony Lee Nelson. State records from the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension show that he has a lengthy criminal record and uses at least 10 names and aliases.
He is expected to be charged Thursday in the shooting death of Palagor Obang Jobi, 23, of Savage.
Burnsville police said Wednesday night they had found a dark-colored, four-door 1983 Buick LeSabre Limited that investigators believe Chavez-Nelson used to flee the homicide scene. They did not say, however, whether the vehicle provided any clues to Schunk’s disappearance.
Chavez-Nelson is not cooperating with authorities about the homicide or Schunk’s disappearance.
“The suspect is not talking [about] anything,” Burnsville police Sgt. Rory Bochniak said. “There’s nothing there.”
Fifteen to 20 officers were on foot Wednesday, searching several areas for Schunk. Bochniak would not say where the searches were.
“We don’t want the public showing up, so we’re not going to give those areas out,” he said.
Math whiz and idealist
Schunk began dating Chavez-Nelson while he was still on supervised release, but she broke it off last Thanksgiving after she learned he was living with another woman and had a child with her.
Schunk was one of three speakers at her high school graduation. She played tenor sax in the high school marching band and was a math and chess whiz. She was majoring in sociology because she was “always interested in how people are, tendencies and patterns and socio-economic things,” Owen Schunk said.
Friends and family members spoke of her as an extremely intelligent, with-it young woman. She often befriended social outcasts, although felons weren’t usually part of her social circle.
Chavez-Nelson was released from prison on Dec. 12, 2011, after serving time for first-degree aggravated robbery. He was on supervised release until May 25 and is on probation until May 2014 for a misdemeanor conviction for driving with a suspended license and giving false information to police in Dakota County, according to state records.
He has convictions for drug sales and possession of a weapon by an ineligible person.
“The answer I got from her was always the same,” said Owen Schunk, 29, of Apple Valley. “She feels like she could help him. She’s kind of that caring person. She had an opportunity to help him, help him turn his life around.”
Owen Schunk said the family learned from friends after his sister’s disappearance that she had been in contact with Chavez-Nelson “multiple times” recently. Chacos said it was because she wanted her money back.
“None of her family and friends approved of [him],” she said.
Schunk’s disappearance is the latest in a string in the Twin Cities area. Mandy Matula, 24, of Eden Prairie, was last seen May 1 with an ex-boyfriend, who later fatally shot himself. Her family continues to search for her. Kira Steger, 30, of St. Paul, disappeared Feb. 21. Her husband, Jeffrey Trevino, is on trial for murder in her death. Danielle Jelinek, 27, of Oakdale, went missing in December. Her body was found in a pond in Chisago County.