KINGSTON – A team of divers searched the North Branch of the Kishwaukee River on Thursday near where Steven Schulz’s body was found as investigators sought clues as to how he died.
Schulz, 23, of DeKalb, was found wearing a red t-shirt, dark pants and tennis shoes on Wednesday afternoon in the river, police said. He was reported missing on Monday night and was last seen Sunday.
Police found his red Ford pickup truck near the intersection of Route 72 and Glidden Road on Monday, and began searching for him Tuesday.
It is unclear if a crime was committed, but Schulz’s death was an isolated incident, DeKalb County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Gary Dumdie said Thursday.
“We’re treating it as a crime scene and investigating it as such at this point,” Dumdie said. “If we felt the residents were in danger, yes, we would let them know.“
DeKalb County Coroner Dennis Miller’s office was scheduled to conduct an autopsy Thursday. Police are waiting for Miller to make a determination as to the cause of Schulz’s death, Dumdie said. Police have declined to say whether there were obvious wounds on Schulz's body.
A team of five divers from the St. Charles Fire Department began searching the Kishwaukee about 10 a.m., Dumdie said.
Schulz's friends remembered him as a man who liked to lighten the mood.
“He was a clever kid,” said longtime friend Tony Terdina, of Sycamore. “He always wanted to have a good time and have everybody laughing.”
Schulz, of DeKalb, was reported missing by family members Monday evening, and about 20 searchers scoured the river within a half-mile of that point Tuesday using dogs, a boat and a helicopter.
Schulz was last seen Sunday, and DeKalb Police said his phone records showed he had not contacted anyone since then. Friends who spoke to Schulz on Sunday said he was on his way to Genoa to exchange guns with a man they didn’t know.
After about five hours of searching Wednesday, the conservation officer in a kayak found Schulz’s body shortly after 1 p.m. about a quarter-mile north of the Glidden Road bridge, about 40 to 50 feet off shore.
Schulz also had some recent run-ins with law enforcement. Court records show Northern Illinois University police arrested Schulz on suspicion of DUI at 2 a.m. Friday, when he had a blood-alcohol content of 0.153 percent. About a week earlier, he was sentenced to a year of court supervision for leaving the scene of a property damage crash May 4.
Glidden Road is reduced to one lane today, with officers directing traffic, for authorities' safety as they continue the death investigation, police said.
Terdina said Schulz – who friends referred to by his last name or as “Schulzy” – liked to be outdoors fishing, hunting or swimming. A 2009 graduate of Sycamore High School, he worked in maintenance for Insight Services in DeKalb.
Meanwhile, his friend Ryan Black, of Cortland, remembered Schulz as someone everyone loved who liked to hang out and have a fun time.
“He was always there for me,” Black said. “He was someone I could always count on.”
A group of students, including Schulz, ate breakfast in Sara Turner’s social studies classroom at Sycamore High School for more than two years. She knew them as the breakfast club.
“They were the goofiest, sweetest kids,” Turner said. “They would pull practical jokes on each other and me.”
Turner saw Schulz at least a dozen times since he graduated. On one occasion, Turner remembers him showing up to her classroom looking for a dusty pink slipper he had hidden in the ceiling. Although the slipper eluded him, he and Turner talked for a while.
“If he saw you, he would talk to you,” Turner said. “Schulz always had such a pure heart. The world was a more happy place and a more fun place because of Schulz.”
The elusive slipper belonged to Terdina, who said Schulz’s goofy personality meant he often hid things in ceilings. Among the other memories Terdina found himself recalling Wednesday were times when Schulz showed up to Terdina’s house in January in a Jeep without a roof or doors or the time Schulz tricked Terdina into running the Pumpkin Run 10K while they were in high school.
Sillier antics aside, Schulz also had a serious side. Terdina remembered calling friends one day looking for a ride to Delnor Hospital. When asked, Schulz said without question he’d be on his way in 10 minutes after getting off work.
“He had such a good rapport with pretty much everyone,” Terdina said. “That’s why so many people care about him.”
• Reporter Andrea Azzo contributed to this report.