Brad Cournaya, 53, who is in prison for child sex trafficking, is now facing a murder charge

By KC Baker
January 11, 2021 02:45 PM
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Krista Lueth

The ex-boyfriend of a Michigan State University student who vanished in 2008 has been arrested and charged with her murder.

On November 11, 2008, Krista Lueth, 34, of Lansing, Michigan, vanished without a trace.

WLNS reports she was on her way to a greenhouse in nearby Hunter Park when she went missing.

The Lansing State Journal says she vanished after taking a bus home from a horticulture class at MSU, where she was pursuing a second bachelor's degree in horticulture.

Her family and friends told the Lansing State Journal it was unlikely that she would "drop everything and run away."

In 2009, her disappearance was ruled a homicide. Her body has never been found.

In 2014, Michigan State Police named her ex-boyfriend, Brad Cournaya, a convicted rapist, now 53, as the only suspect in her killing, WLNS and the Lansing State Journal report.

Brad Cournaya

Lueth and Cournaya had broken up when she went missing, her father told WLNS.

Lueth told her father that Cournaya repeatedly called her after the breakup, the Lansing State Journal reports.

On the night Lueth vanished, a sheriff's deputy remembers helping Cournaya when his truck broke down on U.S. 127, the Lansing State Journal reports. Months later, investigators found Lueth's phone and driver's license near where Cournaya had driven on U.S. 127, court records show.

Now, more than 12 years later, a warrant for Cournaya's arrest in connection with her disappearance and presumed death has been issued, Bill Crino, the Homicide and Major Crimes Unit Chief at the Ingham County Prosecutor's Office in Lansing confirms to PEOPLE. 

The warrant was authorized in the 55th District Court in Mason on Wednesday.

Cournaya is charged with one count of open murder, he says.

He will be arraigned in the next 7 to 14 days. A probable cause hearing will be scheduled within 21 days of his arraignment.

Cournaya is currently an inmate in the Michigan Department of Corrections.

In 2017, he was sentenced to 16 to 40 years in prison for trafficking a minor for commercial sexual activity and using a computer to commit a crime, the Lansing State Journal reports.

In court, Assistant Ingham County Prosecutor Bill Crino said Cournaya has "almost no rehabilitative potential.

"We have a defendant who stands before you here today who has a lifelong adult criminal history of violent sexual crimes against women and children," he said, the Lansing State Journal reports.

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When Cournaya was 18, he was sentenced to 10 to 15 years for breaking into a woman's home and raping her at knifepoint, online court records show.

In 2000, he pleaded guilty to second-degree child abuse and was sentenced to four to eight years in prison.

Leuth's father, Roy Leuth, offered a $100,000 reward for information about his daughter's murder, MLive reports.

He told WLNS that he would never stop looking for his daughter's killer.

"I could never give up on trying to get this person put away where he belongs," her father told WLNS.

Cournaya has not yet entered a plea. It is unclear whether he has retained an attorney who can speak on his behalf.

The assistant prosecutor did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.