“Heart-wrenching” day for families of missing couple with Lexington ties

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ)- Wednesday, families in Lexington and Tennessee and folks around the country, keeping track of a couple missing in Brussels experienced the highest of highs and lowest of lows.

More than 24-hours had passed since anyone had heard from Stephanie and Justin Shults. They’d just dropped off Stephanie’s mother at the airport when bombs exploded, killing many and injuring even more.

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Although she was knocked down, Stephanie’s mother wasn’t hurt. Family members say neither Stephanie, a Lexington native and graduate of Transylvania University and Bryan Station High School nor Justin, whose roots run deep in Tennessee have been heard from since.

Wednesday brought shock waves for both families after one member reported hearing from the State Department the news that the couple had been found alive, without knowing the extent of their injuries or which hospital they were being treated at.

Immediately, family members say friends in Brussels began canvassing from hospital to hospital, hoping to find Stephanie and Justin. A few hours later, they’d learn their initial hopes had been falsely given.

In a second post to social media, Justin Shults’ brother indicated the family had been given information from the State Department that wasn’t “100% accurate”. Family members were devastated.

In a telephone interview with Betty Newsom, Stephanie’s aunt, the Lexington resident calls the ordeal “heart-wrenching”.

“…to first have the extreme high of hearing that they had been found only to contact my sister and find out that was incorrect information and they hadn’t been found,” she says.

Newsom also talks about the amount of friends on social media who truly care and want to see the couple come home.

“It is wonderful that so many people care and so many people are praying for them. It’s really heart-warming,” she says.

Newsom says Stephanie’s father is en route to Amsterdam. From there, he’ll get a ride to Brussels where he’ll meet with Stephanie’s mother and begin the process of searching for their daughter and son-in-law together. She says Justin Shults’ mother and step-father hope to be there in the coming days.