Family calls for stronger action against domestic violence after daughter is killed

PITTSBURGH — With a bright smile and a passion for animals, Crystal Leschner was a giver.

“She was one of those people who when they hugged you it wasn’t just a hug, but she would literally jump into you like a body bump. You felt it in more ways than one,” said Deborah Duca, Crystal’s mother.

But that warmth and light was gone on Dec. 27 2021.

“To hear that your daughter was placed in a bag inside a suitcase in a shed in Pittsburgh weather which was subzero temperatures in a fetal position. How do you handle that? He took everything from her,” Duca said.

“He” is Montel Reed, 26. Police charged him with Crystal’s murder, but it wasn’t his first time behind bars. In seven months of dating, Reed was charged four times with domestic violence.

“The old saying we don’t know what goes on behind closed doors if it gets this bad we should. Maybe we could save a life,” Duca said.

That’s this family’s goal. They are petitioning the state to make domestic violence crimes an automatic felony which comes with stricter penalties. It’s a law in 38 other states.

“It’s a very gray area, it varies state to state if weapons are involved, physical fight with hands, we are just hoping to strengthen those laws because it’s not a gray area,” said Alexia Connelly, Crystal’s sister.

Outside the law, they want a state run domestic violence registry too. A public list of repeat offenders who can take classes to get off the list after a number of years. The reason for the fight always comes back to Crystal.

“It’s a way of maybe comforting her now because she didn’t call and we’ve always been there,” Duca said.

If you are interested in learning more or signing the petition you can follow this link

Here are some resources for domestic violence if you are in need of help.

24/7 Hotline: 800-791-4000