The body of the woman who was attacked by three dogs before dying in a Costco parking lot has been claimed by the little family she left behind. They say they want people to know that 36-year-old Crystal Pearigen was loved.
One of the biggest questions in this case is how did this happen? Bakersfield Police say they still don’t know.
But one thing is certain: before she died a horrible death, Crystal Pearigen led a tragic life.
Jennie Greene is likely the person left in Crystal’s life who knew her best.
“All I could think about was how hard her poor little life was. And then to die like this, it’s just killed my heart. It really tore me apart,” said Jennie.
Jennie met Crystal when Crystal was just a kid and in the same class as her son. She said her life seemed to be okay, until November 20, 1997. That’s when a man walking his dog found the brutalized body of a woman near Hart Park. Detectives at the time time 17 News “Her head was severely beaten, to the point where she was not recognizable.”
Eventually, that woman was identified as 43-year-old Rhonda Pearigen, Crystal’s mother. Two men in their early twenties were arrested for the murder. That did little to help the then 16-year-old Crystal, who now seemed to be on her own. Jennie says Crystal’s grandmother took her in, but says the woman severely mistreated Crystal, who was soon removed by CPS and placed in foster care.
When she was 18 and got out of the system Crystal began to date Jennie’s son and lived with them. Not long after, Crystal got pregnant with a son, Michael. But the young romance didn’t work out. Being a single mom was a growing challenge for Crystal, especially as she began to struggle with her mental health. Jennie says that’s when Crystal asked her to go to court with her and become Michael’s guardian. Jennie did and raised Michael as her own.
Meanwhile, she says Crystal sought medical treatment and was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Initially when Michael was a baby, Crystal had visitations with him, but that slowly stopped. Jennie tried to keep tabs on Crystal, but it wasn’t always easy. The last time she saw her was about three years ago. Crystal told her she had a new boyfriend and life was good.
Just within the last few months, Jennie says she began helping 18-year-old Michael try to track down his biological mother after he decided he wanted a relationship with her. But their search wasn’t going well so far.
Just yesterday, Jennie says she heard Crystal’s name on the news after it was released by the coroner’s office in an effort to track down her family. Crystal picked up the phone, and though she already knew Crystal had been attacked by dogs, what she was told was very hard to process. “The lady the coroner’s office said that she was mauled and killed-attacked by dogs…and she said that the coroner absolutely recommended absolutely no viewing of any kind, and I said why…she said please, don’t put yourself through that, or your family.”
Crystal’s body was discovered in the Rosedale Hwy Costco parking lot on June 16 around 6 a.m. Investigators believe the attack took place a few hours earlier, and while they won’t say where the attack began, they have said they can tell it didn’t start in the Costco lot. They say three dogs were involved, two belonged to a local business owner and one was a stray.
When animal control found the three dogs, investigators say the blood stains and aggressiveness were indicators they were involved. BPD detectives say they’re still investigating how Crystal, who say appeared transient, and the dogs came in contact with each other. They say they don’t know if Crystal ended up in their yard, or if the dogs had escaped and attacked her on the street before she fled to the parking lot.
For Jennie, she says thinking about her death is a nightmare. “It’s beyond anything you can ever imagine you know what I mean? I think about the cries the screams when she tried to get away from them, all of it, you know. It just tears me up.”
After searching for his birth mother and now finding out she’s dead, Crystal’s son, Michael Keen, says he is in shock, but he feels he needs to say goodbye.
“No matter how bad the coroners office says she looks I’m gonna see her…it’s worth that one time, maybe, getting to hold her hand or something…even if it is a bad one, I’d rather have some memory than no memory at all.”
He says he is also determined to lay her to rest in a way that shows she was loved. “It’s something, that one thing I can do for her.”
BPD investigators says two out of the three dogs have been euthanized. They say the case is still under investigation.
If you’d like to help crystal’s family lay her to rest here is the link to the gofundme: Https://www.gofundme.com/to-help-my-mom-to-rest