Fayette County

Obama phones families of Lexington native, husband who died in Brussels attack

Justin and Stephanie Shults
Justin and Stephanie Shults

President Barack Obama on Sunday called the parents of Lexington native Stephanie Shults and her husband, Justin, who were killed in last week’s terror attacks in Brussels.

Betty Newsom of Lexington, Stephanie’s aunt, said that Obama offered his condolences but that she couldn’t speak to her sister and brother-in-law’s reaction.

The White House said Obama praised the couple as epitomizing all that was good about America, and he assured their parents that the thoughts, prayers and resolve of the nation were with them.

Carolyn and Geary Moore of Lexington were in Brussels on Sunday, Newsom said.

Carolyn Moore, Newsom’s sister, was at the airport when the attack occurred. She was headed home after visiting the couple, who had seen her off. Moore stayed in Belgium to seek answers about her missing daughter and son-in-law, whose fate was unknown for days.

“They weren’t the answers we wanted,” Newsom said. “But it is an answer, and now my sister can come home.”

Two bombs were detonated at the airport Tuesday. Not long after, a third bomb went off in a Brussels subway station. In all, 31 people were killed and 270 were wounded in attacks for which the Islamic State group claimed responsibility.

The Shultses had been living and working in Brussels for more than a year. Justin Shults was a native of Gatlinburg, Tenn., and the two met as graduate students at Vanderbilt University. Both were certified public accountants.

Newsom said she expected the Moores to return to the United States within a few days.

She said that Stephanie and Justin’s bodies could not be returned immediately and that a service wasn’t likely until that happened.

“We aren’t able to bring home Stephanie just yet, but we know that’s just her body,” she said. “Her soul and her essence is in heaven.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Michael McKay: 859-231-1324, @hlpublicsafety