Crime

Suspects in murder near Lake Lowell held without bail

Clockwise from top left: Jayson Woods, Kelly Schneider, Daniel Henkel and Kevin Tracy
Clockwise from top left: Jayson Woods, Kelly Schneider, Daniel Henkel and Kevin Tracy

The four men accused in the robbery and beating death of Nampa resident Steven Nelson were ordered held without bail during separate video arraignments Monday afternoon in Canyon County Magistrate Court.

Kelly B. Schneider, 22, of Nampa, is accused of meeting Nelson, 49, at another location early Friday and having him drive to a deserted spot at the Gott’s Point area at Lake Lowell. Schneider allegedly then pushed Nelson to the ground and kicked him multiple times, seriously injuring the man.

“He was the one who kicked Mr. Nelson again and again with steel-toed boots,” said Chris Boyd, a deputy Canyon County prosecutor.

Schneider took a wallet, car keys and the car belonging to Nelson, who was seriously injured and who died a few hours later at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise, Boyd said. Schneider also took all of Nelson’s clothes, leaving him barefoot and naked as Schneider and his three co-defendants drove off.

Jayson C. Woods, 28, of Nampa, is accused of helping Schneider as he robbed and beat Nelson. Two other suspects — Kevin R. Tracy, 21, of Nampa, and Daniel A. Henkel, 23, of Wilder — are accused of hiding nearby in case Nelson put up a struggle and Schneider needed more muscle.

Schneider, Boyd said, had lured other victims and beat them “many, many times before.” He called the beating of Nelson “particularly brutal.”

Authorities stopped short of calling Nelson’s beating a hate crime, but they are investigating whether Schneider targeted other victims specifically because of their sexuality, Canyon County Sheriff Kieran Donahue said.

All four defendants were appointed public defenders.

When asked by Magistrate Gary DeMeyer whether he understood the first-degree murder charge against him, Woods replied “I understand that, but I don’t agree with it.”

Schneider, Henkel and Tracy are also charged with first-degree murder.

All four defendants are also charged with robbery. Additionally, Schneider is charged with grand theft and criminal posseession of a financial card.

Woods, who allegedly placed the Internet ad offering sexual services that Nelson responded to, is charged with taking the earnings of a prostitute.

Henkel is also charged with criminal possession of a financial card.

Boyd said no decision has been made on whether his office will seek the death penalty against any of the four defendants.

All four are scheduled to return to court May 13 for a preliminary hearing.

Before the assailants left the scene, Boyd said, they forced Nelson to give them the PIN for his debit card, which was later used to remove cash at an ATM.

The first calls to law enforcement about the incident came in early Friday morning from residents in the Gott’s Point area at Lake Lowell. Callers were concerned about a naked man walking around the neighborhood and knocking on doors.

Before he died, Donahue said, Nelson provided a detailed description of one of the suspects and of the events that left him battered, naked and robbed of his possessions — including his car, a 2006 Chevrolet Impala.

Donahue said Nelson had used the Internet site Backpage.com to seek out a sexual encounter. Investigators determined that Nelson had arranged to meet one of the suspects and planned to pay the suspect for sex.

The sheriff’s office has received a “number of tips” since a call was put out seeking information on other people who may have been victimized by Schneider and the others, Donahue said.

Victims will not be charged with solicitation, he said.

John Sowell: 208-377-6423, @IDS_Sowell

Erin Fenner contributed.

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