KINGSTON – Steven Schulz was a man known to make friends and keep them laughing.
That’s what people close to Schulz, 23, remembered after an Illinois Conservation Police officer found his body in the north branch of the Kishwaukee River at 1:08 p.m. Wednesday.
“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. A DeKalb County Sheriff’s deputy on patrol found Schulz’s Ford pickup truck about 2:40 a.m. Monday near state Route 72 and Glidden Road in rural Kingston. About 20 searchers scoured the river within .5 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 5 hours of searching Wednesday, the conservation officer in a kayak found Schulz’s body about .25 mile north of the Glidden Road bridge, about 40 to 50 feet off shore, shortly after 1 p.m.
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.
DeKalb County Coroner Dennis Miller pronounced Schulz dead near the river Wednesday, but Sheriff Roger Scott declined to say if there were any obvious wounds on his body. A cause of death was not given, but an autopsy was scheduled for 10 a.m. today.
“We’re very certain it’s him, but the investigation is still ongoing,” Scott said.
Glidden Road between state Route 72 and River Lane was closed until about 9 p.m. Wednesday, and the road might be closed periodically after that during the 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 2 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 and 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.