It has been a few years since you left us Krystal and I wanted to write a follow-up to your story. I have been learning a lot about SEO (Search Engine Optimization.) It is through this process I have learned that there is a lot of traffic that heads for “Krystal’s Story” on our website. It is an important story because it is in memory of but also because of how it directs the audience towards support options for domestic violence. DV has been a constant reminder throughout my career as a firearms instructor. I cannot even count how many stories from women that I have met who are living in fear of a partner who sought training. I would imagine over 50 in my career. This is how I originally met Krystal. She came to me because she was living in an abusive situation with her two young sons. It was through that meeting that we started the empowerment process through training. It was our goal to ensure she had the tools, the mindset, and the ability to get out for her family’s safety. We built her up through training, this was a process and didn’t happen overnight.

I remember vividly her growth over the years. It started with a basic Oregon/Utah Concealed carry class, transitioned to the range for live fire training, and eventually led to her becoming an NRA-certified RSO. It was here that she was able to pay this gift of empowerment to other ladies while on the range as she helped me with classes. Her growth was exponential and I was very proud of how far she had come. It seemed like her life was headed in a positive direction. Eventually, she was hired by L.C.C. to be one of their Public Safety Officers and she had a goal of going into law enforcement. This was so awesome to watch because I very much viewed her as a sister and was rooting for her to win in life. She did the same for me and always cheered for my victories.

In life, there are always ups and downs, as humans we can fall back into old habits or patterns. Who we choose as a partner can directly affect the trajectory of our lives. As much positive that she had brought into her own life. It took one person to completely alter her path, which eventually led to her death at his own hands. Throughout this entire process, I have never once mentioned his name. I never will and I always referred to him as the devil because he was evil reincarnated. He was a drug abuser, a wannabe gang-banger, and a narcissist. I am not sure how they met, but the spiral happened quickly after their meeting. It was at that point I had to distance myself from her. We were once good friends but he and I did not see eye to eye. So he kept her away. This is typical for domestic abusers, they isolate their victims from family and friends. It is a form of control. Abuse can come in many forms, it can be financial, physical, sexual, or emotional. Weak men abuse women. It can be viewed similarly to a game for them. Not long after their meeting, she lost her job at L.C.C. She lost custody of her children and seemed to be spiraling out of control. It was hard to watch from afar.

It was within a short period they were married. This continued the isolation from her family and friends. We could tell that he was sucking the life out of her. One of his issues was his insecurity, which caused him not to be trusting. It gave him the ability to sink his hooks in and control her further. It was very much like watching a slow-moving train wreck. You know what is going to happen, yet you don’t turn away. I remember the last time I saw her on this earth. I was at the local Cabela’s setting up for a Kids S.A.F.E. Foundation class when the 2 of them came in. We made eye contact, she showed no emotion and we went our separate ways. I remember the last time that we spoke I told her that “he was going to kill you.” I feel that she already knew that. It was so hard not to be able to help her. It was almost like she had accepted her fate because of all of the abuse. This is part of the cycle of abuse. The victims are held hostage because they are told that no one will want them or that they deserve this type of abuse. It is all a mind game.

Wrist with inspirational silicone bracelets.

A few months went by and I awoke to a message from a friend on Facebook. He said that in the middle of the night, Krystal and the devil had a big fight. The fight escalated and he drew her firearm, she tried to defend herself, but he took her life. She tried to make it to the next- door neighbor’s house for help but ended up dying in her arms as they waited for the ambulance to arrive. He was picked up a short time later and this is where her story goes into the next chapter. This was the first time that I had been part of the judicial system when it came to domestic violence. It was important for me to be there to advocate for her and her family. Her mother had a really difficult time, as you can imagine. This was during the COVID lockdowns and we had to watch the trial from a screen in a separate room of the court building. It was infuriating watching how smug this dude was, there was no remorse and he even tried to play it off like he acted in self-defense. That was laughable!

After a week-long trial, the verdict was in. Guilty on ALL counts!! The legal system here in Oregon is flawed and the best we could have hoped for was a Murder 2 conviction. His sentence was 25 to life with a possibility of parole after 25 years. This was maddening for all of us because we’ll have to revisit all of this anger and pain in 20 years or so just to make sure that he never sees freedom again. At his sentencing, I was able to speak and I told him that I would be at every hearing to make sure that he dies in prison. It is a promise that I will make to her and her family. I will never stop advocating for them.

I want her story to be told, out of remembrance, but also as a way to help others. Many in our country are suffering in silence. There will be signs and we all need to be on the lookout for them. The signs of abuse could be financial, physical, or emotional. It is important to always be available to help and be a shoulder to lean on. Let them know that they are not alone. In the cycle of abuse, it will seem like a very lonely experience and the victim will feel like there is no way out. Let them know there is always a way out. They just have to seek help. Many local resources help them break the cycle of abuse. There is help with every step of the process and they do not have to live in fear. In closing, this is a very emotional and raw type of writing for me. It is a way for me to process the trauma that I was subjected to throughout this situation. I appreciate you reading this story about my friend Krystal. I know that she is looking down on me, still cheering me on. I have my very own angel. Krystal, we miss you and will continue to fight in your honor for justice. For those who are struggling in silence, you matter, you are NOT alone!! There is help available. Until next time. Be safe!

National Domestic Violence Hotline