Family and friends of a Fremont woman who was killed in Chesapeake, Va., are trying to raise the money to bring her body home for burial.
Stacey F. Velder, 40, was found dead in her home Sunday by officers from the Chesapeake Police Department. The officers went to a mobile home park after the victim's mother in Fremont called and asked them to check on her.
An autopsy Monday led investigators to declare Velder's death a homicide, said Officer Kelly O'Sullivan, a spokeswoman for Chesapeake police. The cause of death has not been released.
A 43-year-old man who lived with Velder is in custody as “a person of interest” in the case, O'Sullivan said. Christopher W. Schultz was arrested Sunday in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, on suspicion of vehicle theft and is being held in the Henry County Jail.
Pam Velder, the victim's mother, said her daughter moved to Chesapeake in November, intending to marry Schultz. The couple knew each other as teenagers in Fremont and had recently reconnected over the Internet, she said.
“I had a bad feeling about Stacey going away with him,” Pam Velder said. “But you just can't talk your kids out of what they want to do.
“I began to worry when my communication with Stacey broke down. She would call me every day and then there was just nothing.”
Stacey Velder graduated from Fremont High School and worked several jobs as a single mother of one, her mother said. In her spare time, she loved to snoop through thrift stores and go fishing.
“She loved fishing so much that if she couldn't find someone to go with her, she'd go fishing by herself,” Pam Velder said.
For the past three years, Stacey Velder worked as a waitress at Mac's Cafe in Fremont. Owner Craig Corn said she was an excellent employee.
“Stacey was a vibrant, lively, lovely person who was so good with the customers,” Corn said. “There are so many employees and customers here that are very saddened by her loss.”
Corn said customers have been coming by the cafe at 1755 N. Bell St. to make donations toward funeral expenses.
Donations also are being accepted in the name of Pamela Velder at all Bank of the West locations and at Irv's Deli and More at 345 N. Main St. in Fremont.
Clarissa Gourley, a friend of the Velder family, set up a fund at www.gofundme.com that had raised over $800 as of Tuesday afternoon.
Pam Velder said she's grateful and overwhelmed by the support.
“I am on a fixed income and don't have a lot of money,” she said. “We'll take all the help we can get. We just want to bring her home as soon as possible.”
Besides her mother, Stacey Velder is survived by her son Coby Velder, sister Mandi Velder and nephew Hunter Velder, all of Fremont.