New memorial set in stone

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A new memorial to slain 9-year-old Krystal Steadman was erected Friday afternoon with enough steel and concrete to remain standing for a long time.

Two welded train rails - secured in more than a cubic yard of cement - hold the structure in place. A five-foot cross is attached to the outside of the rails and covered with about 10 layers of weather-resistant paint.

A Vietnam veteran and member of the Vietnam Veteran's Motorcycle Club who goes by the name Packer constructed the cross with help to replace a memorial stolen from the Highway 50 site in October.

"I'm happy with it," he said Friday afternoon. Donated cement and labor were used to secure the cross and a plaque at its base. "This is the proper way to finish this."

The memorial was set in place 15 feet behind a guardrail to prevent interference with traffic and snow-clearing equipment. It is near the site where Krystal's body was found on March 20, one day after she was abducted from a South Lake Tahoe apartment complex and murdered.

Thomas Soria Sr. and and his son, Thomas Jr., were charged with murder. Soria Jr. has pleaded guilty and is serving a life sentence without parole. His father has yet to face a jury after pleading innocent.

The first "permanent" memorial placed by Packer and friends was three miles above Carson City, put there to replace a temporary memorial that had been removed for the onset of winter.

When it was stolen, Packer looked to the public for help with materials and construction of the new one. Since then, a blitz of offers and donations poured in. Packer quickly put together a team to construct and place the cross with a placard commemorating Krystal's life.

"We wanted to make sure it was in good spot, so it didn't endanger drivers," Packer said. NDOT officials gave the motorcycle club the go-ahead on the site, and construction commenced Friday. "It will be good. It will stand a long time behind the guardrail."

An undisclosed amount of money given to the club by concerned residents will be presented to Krystal's family this Christmas. "It's what we said we were going to do when we were collecting the money," Packer said. "John (Krystal's father) gave his blessing. He said he had no problem with us doing it."

The new cross will be dedicated today from 12:30 p.m. to 1 p.m. The public is invited to attend at the roadside where construction took place.

Fellow club members Sparky, Bluto and Lon took part in Friday's construction.

"Packer asked us (the club) about doing this, so we decided to take it on," Sparky said. "We did it with pure intentions and somebody came up here and stole it.

"We originally came out here with a bag of cement and good hearts."

The bikers stood guard during the night to ensure that no vandals approached the cross while the cement was drying.

Krystal Steadman's mother, Elizabeth Bucknell, and sister Sonja Klempner are expected to be at today's dedication.

Area businesses that aided in the memorial include:

- Ponderosa Stamp and Engraving

- A metalworker known to Packer as Darrell

- Copeland Lumber

- Capital City Concrete

- Tamarack Construction


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