Kolby Kulhanek’s mom, Susan Kulhanek, is determined to find justice for her deceased son. Thanks to her advocacy on TikTok, videos calling for justice for Kolby Kulhanek have garnered over 5 million views. Susan opines that Kolby was murdered sometime in October 2018 before deputies recovered his body near a dirt pit. 

Kulhanek’s headstone contains some of his best memories, including photos of his time with his daughter, Jazmine Kulhanek. Kolby was an accomplished welder, having learned the skill from his father and grandfather. 

He was a beloved member of the Lumberton community who lost his life in tragic and mysterious circumstances. Here is his story. 

Kolby’s car was found several days after his disappearance

Kolby Kulhanek was last seen on 12th October 2018 by his family. His brother said he last talked to Kolby as he washed his blue Audi in the yard.

Kulhanek failure to return home that night didn’t alarm his family: they assumed that Kolby had spent the night at a friend’s house. However, concern about his whereabouts grew when he failed to answer his calls.

Initially, Harden County investigators didn’t suspect foul play. The family described him as a pleasant person and hoped he was safe somewhere.

“He is a really good kid, likeable guy,” Kolby’s brothers told 12News. “He was always cutting jokes. We want you to come home; we love and miss you. I fear the worst. I’m hoping he’s somewhere.”

Kolby’s car was located several days after his disappearance. His mom said his keys and one of his shoes were found nearly 100 yards away. “The placement of the stuff that’s been found, it doesn’t make sense,” Kolby’s brother, Kevin Kulhanek, said. “We don’t [know] if it’s foul play or if he’s missing, we just don’t know.”

Preliminary reports stated that Kolby had probably passed away due to drowning

Texas Equusearch, a search and rescue organization that had conducted thousands of missing persons operations, led efforts to find the 25-year-old. Locals also joined the search efforts, using ATVs, boats, and drones to cover the vast search area. 

“It’s a big blessing for us to have all of the support,” Kevin told 12News. “Friends, family and neighbors coming out here and helping us it’s unbelievable.”

A volunteer named Richard Gollihare said that he helped because he would want people to do the same if a loved one went missing. 

“I have a 12-year-old son and if it were my son or family member I’d want people to come out and help too,” Richard said. “It’s the least I can do, I don’t have a boat or ATV so I figured I can walk and at least help on foot.”

A County Sheriff’s Department helicopter spotted Kolby’s body on 23rd October 2018, 11 days after his disappearance. Kolby’s headstone features an image of the aircraft: it was piloted by a person dear to the family. “We ask everyone just to keep our family in their prayers,” Kolby’s father said. 

Hardin County Justice of the Peace Charles Brewer told KFDM that Kolby’s sinuses had watery fluids, suggesting possible drowning. Brewer said there were no visible wounds on Kolby’s body and decomposition indicated Kulhanek spent about a week in water. 

The Beaumont Enterprise obtained reports stating that authorities would release the cause of death ‘pending toxicology and police investigations,’ processes expected to take six to eight weeks. 

“We are investigating this as a questionable death situation,” Hardin County Sheriff’s Maj. Dennis Allen told The Beaumont Enterprise. “We still have a lot to do and the investigation is ongoing. We are letting the facts lead us.”

Kulhanek’s family reportedly hired a private investigation firm to investigate Kolby’s death

The investigation into Kolby’s death has made little progress since 2018, even in the hands of a private investigation firm. In November 2018, a Facebook page dubbed Corruption in Hardin County, TX, alleged that the Kulhaneks had hired a private investigation firm.

“The family of Kolby Kulhanek is not backing down from finding the truth about the death of Kolby,” the post read. “They have hired a private investigation firm. We hope anyone who has answers comes forward to help the family.”

The same post cast doubt on the integrity and efficiency of the PI firm: “We are skeptical of the investigation firm they hired because the owner of that firm, we are told, had been previously reported for lying and/or deceiving a grieving mother when her daughter was murdered in Hardin County.”

Kulhanek’s family believes Kolby was murdered and will likely keep fighting for justice. 

Facebook user Kyle Copeland stated he would explore all avenues to find Kolby’s killer

After the announcement of Kolby’s death, Facebook user Kyle Copeland stated he would go to extreme lengths to find justice for his friend. Kyle, who referred to himself as ‘Adolf,’ said that he was ‘coming with a vengeance for my brother.’ “I’m kicking doors till I find answers,” Kyle added. 

In a subsequent comment, Kyle stated that he had duct-taped two people driving to Kountze. “Won’t be long and I shall have some answers,” Kyle wrote. The post suggested that Kyle would torture the two people he’d duct-taped and transported to Kountze. 

Kyle then posted a comment implying that he would avenge Kolby’s death by murdering the person responsible. 

Corruption in Hardin County, TXcompiled Copeland’s posts and gave commentary about them. It drew a response from Kyle, who suggested that the affection he felt for Kolby pushed him to dangerous extremes. “What you need to believe is you wished you had a brother like me,” he said. 

It’s unclear whether Kyle knocked down doors and duct-taped people to find Kolby’s alleged killer, or they were empty threats posted to garner attention on social media.