A memorial service for Steven E. Nelson will be held Saturday, May 14, at the Student Union Building at Boise State University.
The service will take place at 11 a.m. in the Barnwell Room.
Nelson, 49, was robbed and severely beaten in the early morning hours of April 29 after responding to an online ad for a sexual encounter. He died hours later at a Boise hospital. Four men accused in the attack were arrested after they were identified through information provided by Nelson before he died.
Nelson was the youngest of five children born to Mary and Edgar Nelson, according to his obituary published this week in the Statesman. He spent much of his childhood in Caldwell, but moved with his family to Fairbanks, Alaska, where he graduated from high school in 1985.
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Nelson later returned to Idaho, moving to Mountain Home. He worked in a variety of jobs, including serving as a manager at Sterner & Kline, a Boise telemarketing company. He also acted in and produced plays for the College of Southern Idaho’s New Theatre in Twin Falls and the Knock ’Em Dead theater group in Boise.
In his late 30s, Nelson moved to Twin Falls to go back to school at the College of Southern Idaho. He spent two years there, studying and working in journalism. He later transferred to the University of Idaho, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in public relations in 2011.
Nelson later served as coordinator for the university’s Vandal Connect fundraising program. Earlier this year, he took a job at Boise State University, where he oversaw fundraising operations conducted by students.
Nelson is survived by his parents and siblings Dennis Nelson, Connie Nelson-Cleverley, Donald Nelson and Eric Nelson.
His family said Nelson reached out during his life to support numerous friends and acquaintances who were down on their luck, including folks who felt ostracized due to their sexual orientation.
“It is his family’s sincere hope that the era of misguided bigotry against them will finally end, so that all sons and daughters, brothers and sisters can live and love peacefully in the full light of day,” the obituary states.
Police said Nelson met a man, later identified as Kelly B. Schneider, 22, of Nampa, at a Nampa store and they drove out to the Gott’s Point section of Lake Lowell, where they met Jayson Woods, 28, of Nampa.
Schneider and Woods then allegedly attacked Nelson, choking and kicking him and stripping him of his clothing, police said. Schneider alone is accused of kicking Nelson about 30 times with steel-toed boots, according to court documents.
They allegedly drove off in Nelson’s car, which contained his wallet and credit cards.
Nelson walked naked and barefoot a half-mile to a residence, where help was summoned. He died after being taken to Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise. The Ada County Coroner’s Office determined he died of cardiac arrest.
Two other men were also reportedly present at Gott’s Point, in case Schneider and Woods needed more muscle: Daniel A. Henkel, 23, of Wilder, and Kevin R. Tracy, 21, of Nampa.
Schneider and Henkel allegedly went to an Albertsons at 12th Street and Greenhurst Road in Nampa and used an ATM to withdraw $123 from Stevens’ bank account.
All four men are charged with first-degree murder, which carries a possible death sentence. Canyon County prosecutors have not yet decided whether they will seek the death penalty if the men are convicted.
Authorities also stopped short of calling Nelson’s beating a hate crime, but are investigating whether the suspects in this case targeted other victims specifically because of their sexuality.
Prosecutors suggested it wasn’t the first time Schneider had lured and attacked someone, and the Canyon County Sheriff’s Office asks anyone assaulted in a similar situation to call them at 208-454-7510.
The four men are scheduled to return to court for a preliminary hearing on May 13.
Schneider is being held in the Canyon County Jail, while Henkel and Woods are being housed in the Ada County Jail in Boise. Tracy is being held in the Owyhee County Jail in Murphy.
“I think it’s pretty common to separate co-defendants in cases like these,” said Joe Decker, a Canyon County spokesman.