After theft, community responds with new cross memorial for Krystal Steadman
In this case the good outweighs the bad. Someone stole a painted redwood cross placed alongside U. S. Highway 50 as a memorial for Krystal Steadman, a 9-year-old who was murdered in March. Generosity and support has come pouring out of South Shore and nearby communities to help build a new and improved memorial.
“I’m just kind of overwhelmed,” said Sonya Klempner, the 26-year-old sister of Krystal. “It’s such a warm feeling that the community is reaching out especially during the Thanksgiving holiday. (My mother) is very appreciative and thankful that everyone is showing their support.”
The cross was placed in concrete on Saturday, but by Monday afternoon employees of the Nevada Department of Transportation discovered that at some point the cross was pulled from the wet cement mix and taken.
Packer, a member of the Reno Chapter of Vietnam Veterans Motorcycle Club, crafted the cross from donated materials. Now he is organizing the construction of a another cross cut from metal and set permanently with rebar in about a yard of concrete.
“I’ve got the cross being built with metalwork,” Packer said. “A guy in Moundhouse is doing it out of railroad rails. I’m going to build a wooden cross around that. So it’s not going anywhere.”
Seven people contacted the Tahoe Daily Tribune and The Nevada Appeal Wednesday offering free metalwork and construction supplies. Packer decided to team up with one of them, John Cobrae, to get the project done.
“My daughter’s the same age as Krystal. My daughter was in her class. Being a father of a young daughter it struck a very hard chord with me,” Cobrae, a 40-year-old who owns Tamarack Construction, said. “I saw the stuffed animals and when I read about someone taking the cross it upset me. I’m in the position that I can help and want to help. I can donate the rebar, the forms, I can even donate the concrete.”
The two men plan to meet Sunday and begin to map out the new memorial. They hope to construct it on the morning of Dec. 2 with a ceremony to dedicate it around noon.
Packer, who goes by his nickname when involved in club activities, said he also contacted the man who engraved and donated a plaque placed in the center of the stolen cross so another one can be made. At this point, Packer said he needs to raise $150 to pay for a new plaque.
“It’s going to be a different type thing,” he said. “The inscription will be metal inset into concrete. So if someone decided to take the wood and metal cross we’ll still have the inscription.”
The original cross was set in place 15 feet behind the guardrail alongside U. S. Highway 50 about two miles west of U. S. Highway 395. The same area Thomas Soria Jr. admitted dropping Steadman’s body the night she was murdered.
An older memorial, a cross surrounded by a mound of stuffed animals, was removed at the end of October because it was at the edge of a highway turnout where snowplows barrel through in the winter.
Krystal was kidnapped, raped and murdered March 19. Soria Jr. pleaded guilty and was sentenced in July to life in prison without parole for playing a key role in her murder. As part of his plea, Soria Jr. agreed to testify against his father, Thomas Soria Sr., who will be tried for Krystal’s murder in January. Douglas County district attorneys are seeking the death penalty in the case.
Anyone who wants to donate money for Krystal’s new plaque should contact Packer at (775) 883-1903.
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