Memorial To Slain Children Set To Be Erected

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With the blessing of state officials, a woman is moving ahead with plans to erect a memorial to slain children next to the Supreme Court building in Carson City.

Tonja Brown said she was prompted to act because of controversy over the state's removal of a nearby roadside memorial for a slain South Lake Tahoe, Calif., girl.

Brown said she hopes the new memorial's placement near the Legislative Building and Nevada Capitol will send a message about the need to protect children.

"People need to be reminded of these horrible crimes against innocent children," the Carson City woman told the Reno Gazette-Journal. "This memorial will give people an opportunity to reflect on this very important issue and to think about children who have been victimized."

The memorial, which will feature a maple tree, bench and bronze plaque, is expected to be in place sometime this spring. Brown now is trying to raise $3,500 to pay for it.

"The plan is coming along, and I'm optimistic everything will get done pretty quickly," Brown said. "People have been very supportive of the idea."

Cindy Edwards, state buildings and grounds administrator, said officials considered several sites in the Capitol Complex before deciding on the site near the court building.

"The memorial is a good idea. And by including a tree, it helps beautify the grounds," Edwards said.

The plans surfaced after the recent removal of a memorial for murder victim Krystal Steadman along U.S. 50 west of Carson City.

An 8-high steel cross was located near the spot where Krystal's nude, battered body was found March 20, 2000. The 9-year-old girl vanished the day before from a Stateline apartment complex.

Its removal came after a Reno lawyer threatened to sue the state on behalf of an unnamed client who thought the cross violated the separation of church and state because it was on state land.

But highway officials said the main reason they ordered the cross removed was because of its size.

Several other roadside memorials to Steadman were vandalized before a group of local residents placed the cross.