Steadman memorial repaired, replaced, rededicated
A large metal cross, a tribute to Krystal Steadman, was welded into place Saturday as about 30 people looked on. Storm clouds boiled over the Sierra and a light, brisk breeze whipped through the canyon near the memorial, located just off Highway 50 west of Carson City.
Two years ago, the 9-year-old South Lake Tahoe girl was found nearby, her body dumped along the road after her throat had been slit. A brutal tragedy that tore at the hearts of many, the wound has been reopened repeatedly by the vandals who have damaged the memorial three times since it was first built.
Bundled against the stiff winds, Carson City resident Karen Stein watched quietly with the crowd. She shielded a small stuffed rabbit under one arm.
“I didn’t know the family personally, but I’ve been following the story and I wanted to come up here,” she said. “It’s close to the anniversary of her death and it’s almost Easter. I thought she could use a bunny.”
Stormy Stone, a 9-year-old Carson City resident with long red hair, hazel eyes and a sprinkling of freckles across her nose, brought some of her favorite toys to leave at the site.
“I wanted to come, to support the family,” she said. “This memorial is special to us.”
“I’m trying to teach her to be wary of others. Bad things do happen, even to children. People have to be sick, to do something like this,” said Katherine Lewis, Stormy’s mom.
All of the materials for the new cross have been donated, the effort organized by Gary James. A friend of Krystal’s father, John Steadman, of Tennessee, he said he will continue with this effort despite any setbacks.
“I’ve been lucky with this project every inch of the way,” James said. “Everyone has been willing to donate something and as far as I’m concerned, the Lord put me in this position. I won’t give up or quit.”
Blue Mountain Steel donated the materials and Shaw construction donated the crane that moved the 2-ton cross into position. T&H Auto Paints provided the paint and Craig Maxwell of Blue Mountain Steel crafted the heart bearing Krystal’s initials.
Thomas Soria Sr. and his 19-year-old son., Thomas Jr. were charged with sexually assaulting Krystal Steadman March 19, 2000, before cutting her throat and leaving her body by the side of the road. Soria Jr. entered a plea of guilty and is serving a life sentence without parole. His father committed suicide while in the Douglas County Jail, one day after his murder trial began.