02.09.18 Sam Strange Granted Parole...

Sam Strange 1996

Sam Strange 1996

Sam Strange was granted parole today, after almost 25 years in prison. In my heart, I knew he would get parole but I also was ready for a decision denying it. This was his third parole hearing. Today was not difficult for me. I didn’t have an anxiety-ridden stomach, as I sometimes get; I just wanted to get it done & to get through my statement without crying. I certainly failed at the not crying aspect of my statement. But I got through it & am at peace with what my sister & I said as well as the outcome.

Hearing the gruesome details of how Crissy was murdered is not difficult for me; in fact, I want to know every single detail. I want to know her last moments of life, I think I deserve to know & that I am ready to know. So much was hidden from me because I was a child when it happened, but slowly I am learning more & more about her final moments on this planet. As I listened to Sam describe his role in this crime, things I had known for some time, yet hearing him say it gave it much more weight. I knew he had watched my sister get beaten to death, that he picked up her dead body, cleaned up her blood & dumped her body like trash. But hearing him describe it made me realize just how brutal & graphic it must have been. I have never thought he was completely innocent, since again, I already knew all these things. Just hearing it & fully visualizing what that must have been like, gave me pause. I still forgive him & I stand by my statement.

He talked about some of Crissy’s conversations with him in the last two days of her life; her making fun of white people (she was Mexican), her telling him how rock music sucked & rap music was the best. That the reason they ended up in his room together was because of an Ice T rock/rap album he wanted to play for her. These details, even the graphic ones are healing to me. I stared at Sam throughout the hearing & I saw someone I feel like I know personally, because I kinda do. Through our letters, I have gotten to know his personality, his daily activities & his goals for the future. When I began reading my statement, the correctional officer assigned to our room, couldn’t believe what he was hearing. His jaw literally dropped. The woman assigned to us, as our escort, also had no idea that we were going to speak on Sam’s behalf.

I am super proud of my sister Wendy, who didn’t have to have anything written down & just spoke from the heart. The parole board said that our statements were a weighing factor on granting him parole. As they read their decision, I focused on Sam. He cried as they told him that he would finally get his freedom back. I tried to imagine how he must have felt & what he is feeling now. I am excited for him but also scared. He has so many obstacles in front of him & its not going to be easy but I think he is ready. He has accomplished so much with his time & will be a certified drug & alcohol counselor when he gets out. One organization that will be helping Sam is HealthRIGHT 360, which is one of the organizations we raised money for when my brother Bobby passed away. Very serendipitous indeed.

I think a lot of people will judge my family for our forgiveness & for speaking on Sam’s behalf. For them, I say this; this isn’t your tragedy. People tend to just see the end result & not the last 20+ years of pain & suffering. They have no idea how far we have come & the anger, frustration, rage & revenge we all felt for so many years. I feel like a piece of this devastation has been put to rest. That finally spreading Crissy’s ashes will be another aspect of closure.

I feel for Dawn’s family, who knew Sam well before all this happened & who believe Sam was the sole murderer. I am sure they are devastated & I can only hope, that they find peace & forgiveness as well. But if they don’t, that’s ok too. It’s their journey with the loss of their family member & I send them my love. I am ashamed to admit that I still have residual feelings for Dawn’s mother that I have not fully worked out. I desperately want to reach out to her, so if anyone knows an email or mailing address please let me know. I truly hope Dawn’s family is well.

Sam has a concrete plan for his return to society, as well as a support system in place. He got married last year & his wife has formed a close relationship with my dad. Sam getting paroled was inevitable & it adds to the magnitude of what 2018 will be for me personally. I hope that someday, we both get to a place where we can meet in person & I can look him in the eyes for real. There is a reason why our paths have crossed & I feel fortunate to have been given an opportunity, though a devastating one, to grow as a person. I hope I can someday see Sam fully recovered from the trauma he has experienced & that he lives the rest of his life as fully as he can.

02.08.18 Sam Strange's Third Parole Hearing...

Before you read my parole hearing statement I want you to know where I used to be, how I used to feel & how far I have come. A letter I wrote to the local paper, which was published in 1999.

Before you read my parole hearing statement I want you to know where I used to be, how I used to feel & how far I have come. A letter I wrote to the local paper, which was published in 1999.

Parole Hearing Statement:

My name is Shani Campbell & Crissy was my sister. Sam was accused, tried & sentenced for the murder of Crissy & Dawn almost 25 years ago. I feel the pain & devastation this has caused everyone involved has been explained at great length. And I don’t want to minimize that suffering just because so much time has passed. Because that misery was very real then & is still very real now, for all of us. Suffering such a tragedy, specifically for me, at such a young & compromising age, altered my entire life. And I do feel like expressing that raw reality is still very valid. That my mother’s heart will forever be broken. That my father has spent months investigating his own daughters murder. And that my sister Wendy struggles with a deep feeling of injustice. So I can only speak for myself.

I am grateful for my life. Even the traumatic parts I experienced, for it has made me the woman I am today. I forgive Sam for his involvement in my sisters murder. The last two times we were here, the parole board stated that Sam needed to show remorse for what he has done. And I believe, for the Parole Board, that involves Sam confessing to the actual killing of Crissy & Dawn, which he has never admitted to. I wanted to express to you all today, how I feel Sam has shown me remorse, personally, without outwardly admitting his guilt. Which, by the way, I do not need. I don’t seek his confession to anything in regards to my sisters death, as my forgiveness & compassion for the man who sits before you right now, is not contingent on any of those things. He could admit that he brutally beat my sister to death & I would still forgive him. I would still have compassion for him. And I would still believe in second chances.

Sam has expressed his remorse to me through allowing me into his life. Which he didn’t have to do. Through written letters for the past several years I have gotten to know Sam as a person. Which was extremely important for my own recovery. To see him no longer as a monster but as a human being. Through our correspondence I have learned more about what Sam has done to better himself while incarcerated. He has expressed his hopes & plans for the future. He has never asked anything from me nor have we ever discussed these parole hearings. I have simply shared my life, interests & thoughts with him as he did with me.

I think Sam has come very far from where he started & through some intense & less than ideal circumstances, he has improved his life vastly. I feel he has accepted his role in this crime & accepted the punishment. He has used his time in prison to the best of his ability & I believe, will come out a better man. I know Sam has a family & now a wife, who surely love & miss him. I think about Sam’s younger brother & how he also lost his sibling. How he has a chance to get his sibling back. Something I don’t have. I know how painful losing a sibling is & knowing that they could have a second chance with their relationship, makes me happy.

I respect the board & the medical professionals who can better analyze & judge someone’s ability to be successful in the real world after spending so much time in prison. But I ask, that if Sam admitting he did this crime is the one thing holding him back from his freedom, for you all to rethink that request. Because nothing will bring Crissy & Dawn back. I do believe in consequences, not necessarily the current prison system, but Sam has certainly suffered some pretty immense consequences for his actions. Years he can never recover. And believe me, I realize the irony in all of this, as my 16 year old sister Crissy & Dawn as well, lost their life so brutally & tragically- losing out on so many precious experiences. But again, nothing can change that. Their suffering is over & it’s up to us as individuals to determine how we allow this tragedy to further effect us. No matter how you play this out, it’s just not fair.

So I try to determine, how can we somehow make this terrible situation a more positive one. And for me, locking someone away for the rest of their life, isn’t a positive outcome for anyone. Perhaps it is completely foreign for anyone to understand why I would be asking the parole board to give Sam a second chance. Turning something so inherently negative, into something positive, is what I have always strived for. My suffering was lessened because I chose to make my life better, not because Sam was spending his days behind bars. I leave this decision up to the parole board but please, do not use my suffering as a reason to keep Sam here. So I ask, if you believe Sam is ready, give him a chance to make something positive of his life & perhaps be able to help others that are on the wrong path. He in turn, could quite possibly, save the lives of many people.

Thank you.

04.13.17 The last day I saw my sister alive...

When cross colors were cool...

When cross colors were cool...

When I heard Crissy’s loud rap music muffled through her closed door, I knew she was venturing out that day. Like most summer days, I had been up already for hours, laying in the sun, playing volleyball, watching TV and eating cereal that was entirely made of sugar. I was almost 14 years old and about to enter high school while Crissy had just finished her sophomore year. My mom was at work for the day and my dad was working in San Jose during the week, which was a seven hour drive round trip. I remember this day like it was two years ago. I cant say, “I can remember it like it was yesterday” because I cant even remember what I did yesterday, or the day before or even last week for that matter. Its curious how days pass so quickly and without meaning, until something catastrophic happens that makes that particular day, special. Special is probably a terrible way to describe the last day you saw your sister alive, but I do look back on that day fondly. It was the last day I would ever see my sister Crissy and the last few days of my innocence. I cherish that moment of not knowing what murder really meant to a family. I cherish that moment of seeing my sister as a whole human being rather than a person I once knew over 20 years ago. I cherish the stillness of the thick summer air, the quietness of my mind which would soon tumble into a dark downward spiral and I cherish the carefree feel that which summers were made of. Where I was once just Shannon Campbell, a silly privileged white girl with little concern for anything beyond my simple life and that, which surrounded it. To Shannon Campbell, sister of murdered teen Cristina Campbell, victim of violence and terror.


I looked out from my entirely too hot bedroom, which was made even more unpleasant because of the vaulted ceilings, huge bay window and broken air conditioner. Grass Valley summers were very hot and dry, with prickly weeds blanketing the desolate landscape of the boonies where we lived. I hardly went anywhere, especially during the summer months, with most of my friends living too far away. Where we lived, an unplanned trip to the grocery store, which took 30 minutes one way, was as exciting as it got, even for most summer days. I was half jealous and half happy that Crissy was going to “town”; that’s what you call civilization when you live in the middle of nowhere, “town”. Even though I was stuck at home with no future plans of adventures, I knew Crissy had been held up in her room the past week or so after her boyfriend broke up with her, so jealously turned to gratefulness that she was getting out. We fought relentlessly, like most siblings who were just two years apart would, but she was also my best friend, my anchor and the person who would go to the bathroom with me in public places because I was, for some reason, too scared to go alone. She would yell at me for using her make up or stepping foot into her room, unless I was performing some ridiculous dance or doing my Jim Carry “Fire Marshall Bill” impression. Her room had stayed pretty silent for that week of hibernation and I remember bringing her dinner a few times because she didn’t want to come down.


The last few weeks of her life and even the few weeks after her body was found are a blur, but that day, the day I last saw her alive is very clear. I was familiar with Dawn, one of her on again off again friends, as she had stayed at our house a few times. Yet I had never heard of Sam before and didn’t know anything about him except that he was going to pick Crissy up that day with Dawn. At this point in my life I would have been labeled a goodie two shoes, someone who didn’t break rules, thought sex was gross and certainly wouldn’t be drinking or smoking. Every time Crissy talked about sex I would gag and squeal yet also be amazed at how grown up she was compared to me, even though only two years separated us. She had started smoking cigarettes a few months prior and I just thought it was the worst thing she could do. Even though I was a brat and annoying as hell, I never once told on her and she would freely smoke around me and tell me when she was going to do something she wasn’t supposed to do. As we stood in my bedroom she proudly gloated how a boy was picking her up and how she was going to smoke weed for the first time. She grabbed a tiny bottle of alcohol my aunt had given me, purely for decoration as drinking in my opinion was just wrong, and started sipping it like the badass older sister she always lived up to be. We only stood there for several minutes before a little truck pulled up beside our property. I look back at those moments now and want to scream at her to not go, to not get into that truck. I can picture myself galloping down the staircase and out the front door, tripping on our long gravel driveway and grabbing her tightly, never letting go. It never crossed my mind that she would be dead and gone within 48 hours of that moment and that our lives would be forever altered. If only I had known. Instead of the movie worthy scene of me saving her life, she quietly yet excitingly turned away from me, grabbed her backpack and stepped out the door. I watched from my window as her tiny 4 foot 9 inch frame, dressed as always in her big long baggy “gangster” white pants and black t-shirt, walked towards a little yellow beat up truck. That same truck would eventually hold her and Dawns badly beaten dead bodies to be dumped like trash and the man driving, Sam Strange, would forever be a part of our narrative. The last thing I remember seeing was Crissy’s long brown hair, flowing in the mild summer wind, walking away from our safe home and into the presence of the man who would soon witness her violent murder and not save her life. I cannot tell you what I did the rest of that day or even what I was doing the night she was murdered. My next vivid memory was being on my knees in our dark living room 12 days later, praying as my mom spoke to police on the phone, regarding two girls’ decomposed bodies that had been found on a mountain side.