Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Murder of Krystal Dawn Steadman


Cross erected for Krystal
Cross erected for Krystal

On November 19, 2000, members of the Reno chapter of the Vietnam Veterans Motorcycle Club and the Legacy Motorcycle Club erected a cross in memory of Krystal Steadman along Highway 50, near where her body was found. 

Inscription on the memorial cross:
"In Loving Memory of my Sister
Krystal Dawn Steadman
August 25, 1990 - March 19, 2000"

The painted redwood cross with its metal plaque was made possible by several Carson City businesses that donated funds and material for the project. The new memorial replaced an initial memorial to Krystal, which was erected in the first days following her death — a cross surrounded by a mound of stuffed animals.

Krystal's sister, Sonya Klempner, and her boyfriend Tracy Heer were invited to help place the cross. Once the cross was secured with cement, Klempner and Heer tied four pink helium balloons to the cross. "It's just beautiful. Thank you so much," Klempner told the club members.

While the monument was unable to alleviate the constant pain Krystal's family suffered, it stood as a symbol of their love for her. However, just two days after the four-foot wooden cross was erected, it was ripped out of the ground and stolen. "I'm shocked," Sonya Klempner told the Associated Press. "I don't know what's going on anymore. Life is just crazy." 

Upon hearing of the vandalism, a member of the Reno Chapter of Vietnam Veterans Motorcycle Club, known only as "Packer," decided to craft a new memorial. During an interview with the Nevada Appeal, Packer said, "It's personal now. The cross is going to be there," he said. Not only is this a slap to little Krystal, but it's a slap in the face to all of us."

Packer kept true to his word and on December 8, 2000, along with members of the Vietnam Veteran's Motorcycle Club, he set up a new cross, constructed from two welded train rails, which were then secured in more than a cubic yard of cement. The memorial was set in place 15 feet behind a guardrail to prevent interference with traffic and snow-clearing equipment. "We wanted to make sure it was in good spot, so it didn't endanger drivers," Packer said. Nevada Department of Transportation officials gave the motorcycle club the go-ahead on the site, and construction commenced. "It will be good. It will stand a long time behind the guardrail."

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