Sherri Winans
Whatcom Community College
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I wrote this piece in January of 1996, seven months after Krystal DeVries was killed on our campus.  It was published in WCC's newspaper, The Horizon.

Remembering Krystal

Where were you on the afternoon Krystal was murdered? Most of us can remember. I was in Building C, busily preparing for the end-of-the-quarter meeting of the English 100 reading panel—I was in the library duplicating some materials when I heard shouting. I rushed into the hallway to see one of my colleagues hysterically screaming for someone to call 911. Minutes earlier, there had been an altercation out in front of the building, Krystal had tried to get away, shots had been fired. On June 15, 1995, Krystal DeVries Way, a Whatcom student, was shot and killed in front of the college by her husband.

The next thing I knew I was outside, bent over her body. I wanted to help, but she was gone.

Recently, while thumbing through magazines at an overly crowded doctor's office, I stumbled across a story too much like Krystal's. Kristin Lardner, a promising art student at the Museum School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was shot and killed as she tried to walk away from her ex-boyfriend. The story I read was an excerpt from a book by Kristin's father, George Lardner, Jr., a Washington Post journalist, who had not even known that Kristin's boyfriend had threatened her or that she had had to get a restraining order.

Painful as it may be, we must continue to tell and hear stories like Kristin's and Krystal's. We at Whatcom need to remember Krystal not only because she was part of our community and her friends and family will never get over her loss and need our support.

We need to remember Krystal because there are those among us who live, like Krystal and Kristin must have, in constant fear, a kind of fear that is particularly isolating. And isolation in situations like these increases the chance that someone will be seriously harmed—emotionally and physically—and even killed.

Last June, as I was trying to come to grips with Krystal's death, I went to see one of my students at her workplace. She had written an essay earlier in the quarter about her own experience in a violent relationship and had confided in me that she was scared: her ex-boyfriend, who was in jail because he had beaten and threatened her, was soon to be released. During our brief conversation about Krystal's death and its impact on us, she fixed her tear-filled eyes on me and whispered, "It could have been me."

I think of her, and of others who have told me similar stories, when I remember Krystal. We must continue to remember.

A copy of George Lardner's The Stalking of Kristin: A Father Investigates the Murder of his Daughter is available in our library.

Copyright 2001 Sherri Winans
All Rights Reserved

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Funded through the U.S. Dept. of Education, Title III Grant PO31A980143
Sherri Winans, Whatcom Community College, Bellingham, WA
1999-2015