The city will be naming a portion of its recreational biking and walking trail after a Peabody woman who was killed in the woods outside her apartment building 17 years ago in a heinous crime.
Mayor Ted Bettencourt, city officials and family members will gather Saturday morning to dedicate a 3/4-mile spur of the Peabody Independence Greenway to Kristen Gove Crowley. The newer trail section, which is 2.8 miles in total, connects the Danvers Rail Trail to Peabody with an outlet onto Lowell Street near the Hess Express gas station.
It was at that same gas station/convenience store that the events leading up to Crowley's murder began shortly after midnight on June 2, 1996.
John Keegan and Timothy Dykens, who were drinking earlier that night at the Golden Banana, left the strip club and stopped at the Lowell Street store where they spotted the 27-year-old Crowley buying groceries.
The two men followed her to the Ledgewood Condominiums nearby where she lived with her husband -- the couple was married just 18 months earlier -- and dragged Crowley from her car and into the woods.
Keegan and Dykens then attempted to rape Crowley and eventually beat her to death.
Both men were convicted on murder charges. Keegan, in fact, was up for parole last year but was denied on the grounds that he was unrepentant and has never taken responsibility for his actions that night.
“Kristen’s life and the tragic circumstances surrounding her death left a deep impact on so many people,” said Bettencourt in an announcement. “We wanted to create a place where Kristen’s family, friends and members of our community could honor the memory of Kristen’s life.”
“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 heart of so many,” he said.
The entrance to the trail spur will also include a bench and a plaque with Crowley's name inscribed on it.
Bettencourt said $50,000 in Community Preservation Act funds paid for both the bench and some construction for the new path, while Northeast Nursery donated the labor for landscaping in and around the Crowley memorial.
The majority of the trail work was actually done for free by the Iron Horse Preservation Society in exchange for the old rail ties along the corridor. The Nevada-based nonprofit has done similar work in Danvers, Wenham and Topsfield and there's now a 7.6-mile trail from Topsfield to Peabody to show for it.
The dedication is scheduled for June 15 at 11 a.m. at the trail opening, which is under the I-95 overpass and next to the gas station at 545 Lowell St. The public is welcome to attend.