Boyfriend, his roommate questioned in Art Institute of Dallas student's death

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by By SCOTT GOLDSTEIN / The Dallas Morning News sgoldstein@dallasnews.com

wfaa.com

Posted on September 19, 2009 at 12:00 AM

Updated Monday, Oct 19 at 6:19 PM

Two Art Institute of Dallas students are among potential suspects in the stabbing death last week of a 20-year-old classmate whose body was found in her Lake Highlands apartment, according to police documents.

Samantha Michelle Nance was discovered in her bedroom by her roommate the morning of Sept. 11.

In the hours after she was found, Dallas police homicide detectives searched the apartment where her boyfriend, Nathan Shuck, 20, lives with Daniel Willyam, 26, according to a search-warrant affidavit.

Police confiscated numerous items from the apartment, some of which appeared to have dried blood on them, according to police records.

Investigators are waiting for DNA analysis and comparison to be completed on those items, as well as items found at the scene of the slaying. The analysis could be completed within a week.

But the men are not the only possible suspects; police have said they are talking to anyone who had contact with Nance in the hours before she was last seen.

"Our investigation is not limited to just two individuals," homicide Sgt. Eddie Douglas said. "We are opened to all possibilities, which can lead to many directions. We don't know really what the end result will be."

Willyam answered the door of his North Dallas apartment Friday evening and said he told police he did not know anything about the case. He declined to comment further about the investigation.

Shuck was not at home at the time. Reached by phone, he declined to comment.

It is unclear how long Shuck had been dating Nance, who graduated from Italy High School in 2007 and was studying media arts and animation. Shuck graduated from Coppell High School in 2007, according to his MySpace page.

Detectives have spoken to both men, though police officials generally will not comment on specifics regarding interviews with suspects.

A spokeswoman for the Art Institute of Dallas declined to comment on the case.

"We are reserving comment until such time as we've been notified by the Dallas Police Department or pending the outcome of the investigation," Jackie Muller said.

'Nervous, evasive'

According to the affidavit, Dallas police first spoke to Shuck the evening of Sept. 11.

"Shuck was observed to be very nervous, sometimes evasive in his answers and getting his story mixed up," the affidavit said.

Shuck also appeared to have fresh scratches on his body and, when asked whether he owned knives, he said he had more than a dozen in a locked box in the bedroom of his apartment.

Initially, he gave written consent to a search of his apartment but apparently changed his mind during the search, prompting investigators to pursue the search warrant.

Police have said from the beginning that they think Nance probably knew her killer. There was no sign of forced entry at her apartment in the 9000 block of Markville Drive, near Greenville Avenue and Forest Lane.

"It's a strong possibility that it was someone she knew who committed the offense," Douglas said.

Hometown rattled

The violent ending to Nance's life has rattled her small hometown of Italy, Texas.

Friends there knew her as Shelley and often spotted her bouncing on her backyard trampoline.

Former teachers recall a girl who was small in stature, generally quiet in class and often seemed to be at peace in her own little world.

She was known for fantastic artistic creations and a "brilliant, shy smile," said her ninth-grade biology teacher, Marjorie Bridge.

In her senior yearbook, each student chose a favorite quotation. Nance's choice, friends say, was spot on: "You laugh because I'm different, I laugh because you're all the same."

In the town of about 2,100 people, some leave for the big city, but many stay behind.

"She was living her dream," said Monica Boyd, who taught Nance's Sunday school.

Bridge, who taught Nance and her two older sisters, said she is faced with the challenge of explaining the news to her students.

"I do tell them they have to be careful," Bridge said. "The rest of the world is not safe like Italy, Texas."

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