Murdered woman abused by killer

Melissa Dunlap took this photo of Holly Schick-Lewis and Michael Buckles at a wedding at the Darby Community Center recently.

When Kimberly Kelly read that Michael Buckles had murdered his girlfriend on Jan. 6 near Darby and then took his own life, the California woman instantly recognized the name of the man who she says stalked and terrorized her for 19 years, forcing her to wear bulletproof armor and keep a gun in her daughter’s diaper bag.

Buckles, 53, fatally shot his live-in girlfriend, Holly Schick-Lewis, 50, at the home they shared near Lake Como before shooting himself.

According to a restraining order request filed by Schick-Lewis, Buckles had physically assaulted and threatened the woman in the months leading up to the shooting.

The story sounded all too familiar to Kelly.

Kimberly Kelly first met Buckles in 1995, when he took a San Diego Search and Rescue training session that she was leading for the San Diego County Sheriff’s Office. The two spoke after class and became friendly, but Kelly said the relationship quickly took a dark turn.

“I house-sat for him when he would go on vacation, but other than that there was no personal relationship, just teammates and friends,” she said. “But he began showing up unannounced at my work. There would be candy taped to the door of my car, and there would be gifts waiting for me. He would call me at work and then tell me he was getting mad because I wasn’t returning his calls. I told him I wasn’t allowed to make personal calls at work, and he went and bought prepaid phone cards and told me I could call him with those. I came home one day and he was washing and waxing my car. I came home one day and he was feeding my dog meat balls. He started sending cards that were very creepy and threatening. One card said that ‘like it or not, he was going to make me happy.’ I told him to stop, and it only escalated.”

In an interview, Kelly said she confronted Buckles one day.

“I told him that I didn’t want anything to do with him any more,” she said. “I returned the house key that he had given me to house-sit, and I found that there were pictures of me all over his house that he had stolen from my house. At that point I said, ‘Give me back my things and I never want to see you again.’ So he called and falsified a report to San Diego PD saying that I had burglarized his house.”

She filed a stalking/harassment order against Buckles.

“The detective came out and she said hello to me and asked if I had cut my hair different,” Kelly recalled. “I told her I had never been there before. Apparently, Michael had stalked a previous woman named Kimberly, and she was the same height and weight as me, and the detective thought that I was coming back to file another report.”

Kelly was granted a restraining order in early 1996, but Buckles kept harassing her. She lived in constant fear because of the bizarre messages that Buckles would send her.

“I wore Kevlar for every waking moment, save time in the shower,” she said. “A tracer on my phone. A dog in the house. A Sig Sauer in the classic Pooh baby bag, next to the tiny diapers and scented wipes and hand-embroidered burp cloths. I cut my hair and colored my hair.”

The restraining order was only good for three years, she said.

“Unfortunately, in the court’s eyes, ‘permanent’ only means three years, and he was back almost immediately,” she wrote in a blog post about the stalking. “In every corner, in every professional report, in every sage’s advice, the directive was not to renew the protective order. ‘He doesn’t know where you are now; if you go to court, you’ll have to tell him,’ and my ultimate favorite, ‘eventually, if you just disappear, he’ll forget about you.’ ”

But Kelly said Buckles didn’t forget, and kept stalking her – even when he moved to Montana.

In 2004, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle interviewed Buckles about his dog, which specialized in locating dead bodies.

On Buckles’ Facebook page, he posted several updates on how he was getting treatment for a brain tumor, including chemotherapy, “cyber knife” surgery and radiation therapy.

On Holly Schick-Lewis’ Facebook page, she posted a photo of Lake Como in December of last year, just a few weeks after Buckles had been arrested for physically assaulting her and a few weeks before her death at his hands.

“This is where I live now,” she wrote. “Below the majestic Lake, Howling Wolves by the light of the moon. Soaring bald eagles. It is here in which I am given a blessed place to heal.”

The postings haunt Kimberly Kelly.

Kelly said she had no idea how Schick-Lewis and Buckles got together, but she wishes she could have warned the woman.

“What I don’t want to have happen is for people to say that this is just a domestic violence case between two people,” she said. “They had only been together for four months. How do you generate that much anger in four months?”

Kelly said she was saddened to hear about Schick-Lewis’ death.

“He ruined a lot of people’s lives, and he ruined Holly’s life.”

Reach reporter David Erickson at 363-3300 or david.erickson@ravallirepublic.com.

Reporter David Erickson can be reached at david.erickson@ravallirepublic.com.