By Alan Burke
---- — PEABODY — More than 17 years ago, Kristen Crowley was the victim of one of the most savage murders in recent Peabody history.
On Saturday at 11 a.m., the city will remember her, dedicating a new section of the city’s bike path and walkway near the Hess Station at 545 Lowell Street in her name. Her mother, Susan Gove Ramunda, is among the friends and relatives expected to attend.
The section to be dedicated is a spur of a citywide pathway called the Independence Greenway. The spur ends in Danvers. A new bench along the path will have a plaque with Crowley’s name.
“We wanted to create a place where Kristen’s family, friends and members of our community could honor the memory of Kristen’s life,” said Mayor Ted Bettencourt. “We hope the dedication of this portion of the Independence Greenway in Kristen’s name will reflect the very special place she still holds in the hearts of so many.”
Crowley, 27, died in the early hours of June 2, 1996, the victim of a brutal attempted rape and murder. Two men who had been drinking at the Golden Banana, a strip club on Route 1, spotted her at what was then the Mobil Mart on Lowell Street and followed her. They dragged her into the woods near her home at the Ledgewood Condominiums and bludgeoned her to death with a 45-pound rock.
Timothy Dykens was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison with no parole. John Keegan pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after serving 15 years. He had his first parole hearing in 2011 and was denied release.
Police Capt. Dennis Bonaiuto, a detective at the time, remembers the impact of the crime citywide.
“There certainly was an enormous level of fear,” he said, notwithstanding the fact that the killers were quickly apprehended. “The randomness of this made it shocking.”
Crowley was at an outer door to her condo and about to enter with a bag of groceries when the killers dragged her away.
“They may have been lying in wait, and she had no opportunity to see them. ... She fought heroically,” Bonaiuto said.
Bonaiuto was among several Peabody detectives who assisted in an investigation led by the State Police.
“There was certainly a sense of loss across the entire city, that such a young person was taken from us and from her friends and family. ... It was very sad,” he said.
“It was outrageous,” said Bill Power, a member of the Community Preservation Committee, which financed the new bike spur with a $50,000 donation. He remembers being incensed at the idea that the killers had brazenly stalked an unwary Crowley as she purchased groceries. “That was beyond belief. ... It did have a big impact on the city. People were horrified.”
The public is invited to attend the ceremony. Northeast Nursery of Peabody donated landscaping in and around the Crowley memorial bench.