Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Murder of Krystal Dawn Steadman

"Are You an Angel?"

On March 28, 2000, Mrs. Elizabeth Steadman walked into the Sierra Community Church in Lake Tahoe, Calif. It would prove to be one of the most difficult days of her life. She did not want to be there, however circumstances beyond her control had brought her there. She quietly took her seat at the front of the congregation and pulled a tissue from her purse. Today was not a day for enlightening sermons — it was a day for Mrs. Steadman, along with her friends and family, to mourn the loss of her daughter, nine-year-old Krystal Dawn Steadman.

Krystal Dawn Steadman
Krystal Dawn Steadman

According to reports by both the Nevada Appeal and the Tahoe Daily Tribune, several people broke into tears as the service opened with a video showing pictures of Krystal as she grew up. There were images of her learning to ride a bike, sledding and dressed as a pumpkin for Halloween. Following the video, several people took to the podium and shared their own stories about the precocious fourth-grader. One of the girl's teachers at Meyers Elementary School, Susan Earnest, read a handful of letters and a poem another student wrote for Krystal and said, "I loved her most of all because she so easily and so openly loved others."

Another to speak was Jennifer Welker, a friend of Krystal's sister. She spoke fondly of the child and read a letter that her eight-year-old niece Khloe wrote to Steadman after her death. "I wonder if God made your soul into an angel," Welker read. "Are you an angel? Check yes or no."

Krystal's sister, Sonya Klempner, said she had been trying to teach her sister the cha-cha. Grandfather Leslie Bucknell, who traveled from Florida, talked about Krystal's tremendous energy. "I know her school chums, teachers and family all thought of her as a little human dynamo," Bucknell said. "I know she gave me a run for my money."

As the service came to an end, Krystal's friends and family lit candles for her and dozens of people gave her mother cards of sympathy and offered condolences. Krystal's death was hard for everyone to accept. Just nine days earlier the bubbly nine-year-old had been busy playing with friends and working on a campaign for her elementary schools student body elections. She was highly motivated and enjoyed spending her time playing soccer and singing in her schools choir.

Krystal had the entire world at her fingertips, but it all came crashing down around her on March 19, 2000. Her death was no tragic accident or simple misfortune. She was murdered in cold blood in one of the most sadistic and horrifying manners humanly possible. Why? All for the simply satisfaction of one mans insatiable lust.

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