Courtney LeClair read the last text message her daughter, 21-year-old Kayla Kulow, sent her.
“She says, ‘Ok I love you too. I hope you sleep well, but also mama, make sure to stay hydrated. Always be safe. Enjoy the weather. Take pretty pictures of the sunset for me. What are you guys doing for Sunday the 4h because tomorrows the 3rd,’” LeClair said while reading from her phone.
The text was sent July 2 at 10:59 p.m.
About nine hours later, Kulow was mysteriously dropped off at Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup with a gunshot wound to her head, according to court documents. Kulow died in the hospital on July 8.
A two-month investigation led to the arrest of Kulow’s boyfriend, 23-year-old Edward Jerome Donelan. According to court documents, Donelan initially told investigators gang members shot Kulow. He had previously told a medic at Good Samaritan Hospital on July 2: “I just got home and found her like this,” according to court documents.
A friend of Donelan later told detectives that Donelan confessed to shooting Kulow, according to court documents.
Donelan, who is facing a second-degree murder charge, made his first appearance in court on Thursday. A judge issued a $1,000,000 bond, citing Donelan’s criminal history (five felony convictions, five active warrants and 12 total warrants) and previous lack of compliance with his probation restrictions.
LeClair, Kulow’s father, family members and friends attended the court appearance on Thursday. LeClair said she was happy with the bond amount, citing safety concerns for herself and others if Donelan were to be released.
“I don’t ever want him to be able to do this to another girl. Not ever,” LeClair said.
LeClair described Kulow as her best friend, who was fun, caring and “full of life.”
“You know how kids go through that phase where they can’t stand you? Well, we were finally starting to be friends again and mend some of the past,” LeClair said. “And she was a good mom. Better than I could’ve ever been.”
Kulow was raising her 2-year-old daughter, who is now being raised by LeClair and the mother of the baby’s father. LeClair said she’s been trying to stay strong for her granddaughter.
“It’s really hard. Everywhere I turn in the house, she’s there. Every time I wake up, I wait for her to come up the stairs and say good morning,” LeClair said. “And then all the little stuff on the side with rumors, it just makes it that much harder.”
LeClair has also been texting her daughter’s old phone, explaining, “I still message her because it makes me feel better, you know? I’m paying to keep her phone on. I know it sounds so stupid, but it makes me feel like she’s still there, you know?”
The last text LeClair sent to her daughter’s phone was Thursday, three hours before Donelan’s first court appearance. She wrote: “Hey baby girl, things are coming together. And we are so much closer to making him pay. I love you and I miss you so much.”
“I wanted her to know I’m doing everything I can,” LeClair said. “I’m doing everything I can to make sure (Donelan) pays for this.”
Donelan pled not guilty. His next court appearance is Oct. 6. His jury trial is Nov. 3.
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