Original Air Date 10.13.2018
In This Episode
Who is Kristal Reisinger? Hear from some of the people who knew her best.
Rodney Ervin: 00:00 I thought a lot of things but what you just said, for me you hit it, making people fall in love with Kristal once they learn her story. Just looking at the pictures of Tara Grinstead, looking at her it's like, "Wow, what a beautiful person," and then you read her bio and you read the stuff about her. I didn't think of it this way which really excites me in a sense, because Kristal was just a dynamic person. Yeah, she had problems, and this, and that, and the other, but she was a beautiful, loving ... You're obviously aware of, with a beautiful daughter. I mean wow.
Rodney Ervin: 01:05 I really like the idea about bringing her story forward and people falling in love with her. I think that's what's going to really get people. Boy, I can see this. Wow. Well, I think you're the team to do it, Meredith and everybody else. I just really look forward to what you're doing.
Meredith: 01:34 Up and Vanished presents a bonus episode series. This is Insight.
Meredith: 02:19 This is Amy, Rodney's daughter, and essentially, Kristal's sister.
Amy: 02:23 Kristal, over a decade ago, dated my brother at the time and they had a fairly long relationship, I mean a couple of years I think, and then they broke it off. My parents sort of took her in as another child, basically. She was just in our life ever since.
Meredith: 02:45 Here's Mikey, Kristal's best friend from college back in Gunnison.
Mikey: 02:49 She got As in college, always As, and she partied. Me, I would take notes, sit in our dorm for hours just studying and studying and studying. I'd get Bs. She would just not even do homework and she would get straight As. She was very, very smart. She used to teach some classes at Western State, some tarot classes and spiritual classes at our old school. She taught some independent classes for it. People could get credit, which was kind of cool.
Meredith: 03:19 If you're hearing some jingling noises, that's just Mikey playing with his keys.
Mikey: 03:23 After she had her baby, it was like pulling teeth to get her to go out, which I totally understand because the Kristal that evolved after she had her kid, she blossomed into a very ... didn't really drink. She was vegan, vegetarian, all this other stuff. And then she was getting so into it that she would give me a guilt trip for drinking and eating meat. I'm like, "Girl."
Mikey: 03:49 When I first met her, she had no piercings, blonde hair, pink flowers in her hair. And then it evolved to all these tattoos and colored hair, and then it transitioned to this hippy style of her. She'd wear just fabrics and cloaks over her hair, just very mountain town, hippie girl.
Mikey: 04:10 The last time I talked to her, I was working on one of my deco stuff at the club and she called me and sounded different on the phone. She sounded really happy. It was kind of like a ... not like a goodbye, but just, "hey, I love you." "Hi Mikey. How are you?" I'm like, "Good. I'm making an alien spacecraft. Elvis is going to come out of it onstage." She's like, "You would." She just wanted to see how I was doing. She's like, "I know I haven't talked to you for a little while," because it was a couple months. She just was saying, "I love you." I'm like, "I love you too."
Mikey: 04:45 I was like, "I'm going to call you right back." I was like, "I'll call you right back after I'm done with this project. I have spray paint all over my hands." But yeah, that was the last time I talked to her.
Eli: 04:57 She was the kind of person that would be misunderstood. To get a mental image of her, you can imagine a tattooed blonde girl, long dreadlocks, tattooed, lots of piercings, gauged out ears, very outgoing personality, very sweet girl but just on her looks alone I think she had a hard time finding a job of course. Having a hard time fitting in, people taking her seriously, and I think she really wanted that. But if you got to know her, she was incredibly intelligent, really smart, super deep, really sensitive, very high morals, very high morals.
Eli: 05:52 Even though she liked to party when I met her, she was in no way a troublemaker. She just loved to laugh and have a good time, and she did that a lot. We had been together for a couple of years and we were at a pawn shop. She just picked up a guitar and started playing Stevie Nicks. Blew me away. I had no idea she could even play a guitar. She never played during our first two years together and all of a sudden, she just picks up a guitar and starts playing some Stevie Nicks. I was like, "Man, you play guitar?" She was always blowing me away like that. She had so many talents, so many more talents I'm sure I didn't even get to see yet.
Meredith: 06:36 Yes. That is Kasha singing in the background.
Amy: 06:40 She was kind of a nomad because she never had one house, so she was always traveling around. That's why she knows people in Denver. She knows people everywhere.
Jenny: 06:57 I met Kristal in 2006 in Gunnison. I had transferred my sophomore year of college here. That was her second year. She was one of the first people I had met.
Meredith: 07:11 This is Jenny. You may remember her from a previous episode.
Jenny: 07:17 We hit it off, her, Mikey, and I and Lucas and Sonny and Derek. Crestone, poor mountain town, time stops and it was kind of similar in Gunnison. It's a very middle of nowhere town. It was a college town. She left to move to Denver. Mikey did the same. Denver, me moving back from there, is a very small city and it's a ... You see a lot of the same people. There's a lot of homelessness. It's very easy, if you have issues with sobriety, to get sucked in. And that had happened to her.
Jenny: 07:58 And then when she got pregnant, she had totally reversed it, eating organically and doing really great, happy with Elijah and getting ready to have his kid. I couldn't wait to meet Akasha. She was sober. She looked so good. You could just tell she was on the right path. But it was kind of worrisome for me to hear how much she was detaching. She never really expressed where her demons came from. I don't think she wanted to come off as weak. But we knew. We all knew each other's stories, and we didn't judge each other.
Angela: 08:49 We had very similar lives. In the sense that her mom was schizophrenic. My mom was schizophrenic. My parents were very well-off. My dad built his own business. It became very successful. I was fortunate enough that my mom was able to get on some very good meds. She's stabilized. Kristal was not lucky. Her mom was institutionalized. Kristal was pretty much on her own for a long time. She and I connected in that way and we talked about that a lot. That's how we formed our relationship. It was really hard for a kid to see their mom like that. But she wasn't around it like I was around it because her mom was institutionalized from it, and her mom was mean.
Angela: 09:44 Some people, it makes them mean. Other people like my mom, her visions were of God. She would speak to God and that kind of thing. We connected that way, and we developed kind of a mother/daughter relationship.
Danielle: 10:19 I knew she was from Gunnison. I met her exactly 10 years ago in Denver.
Meredith: 10:24 You may remember Danielle from episode three. She was a roommate of Kristal's in Denver when they were in their young 20s. Here she remembers some of the things Kristal told her about her early life.
Danielle: 10:36 She told me she was also a ward of the state, and it was funny because we would literally be laughing about her experience, like she said, about having her birthday party in jail. She truly felt, she said, in the most oddest situation of being in jail she felt connected with and truly felt loved when they gave her a birthday party because I think from growing up, it was a little bit maybe a little bit more rough.
Danielle: 11:03 The first thing that got me about Kristal was her laugh. She did have that laughter, that very positive Buddha laughter. I'll telling you that ... Seriously, that's what it is, giant belly laughter. I'm laughing because I can hear it in my damn head, like the, it comes through.
Danielle: 11:22 I needed a roommate situation, and so I moved to downtown Denver. I met her coincidentally. Her and her boyfriend, they just bought an apartment off of Colfax and Lafayette. It was this old Victorian apartment. We were paying like 800 bucks. It had five bedrooms in it. It was gothic style. It was pretty cool. It was huge. It was massive. It had wood floors that creaked. They were old. We believed it was haunted. We did have some interesting experiences there.
Danielle: 11:57 I think she was very rebellious. She was a rebellious teenager, which that's what I think we all had in common. We had that rebellion in common. Kristal was all about the free lifestyle, never could stay in a place at one time. I don't think we ended up in that apartment too long. Even living in that apartment, she was still trying to find a place to live. We would be at a place and she's still looking for a place. Gypsy soul, for sure.
Danielle: 12:29 Kristal was working at the Hard Rock Café on the 16th Street Mall. We liked to observe it. We loved people watching, that's what it was. She's a Scorpio and Scorpios are incredibly intuitive. We'd walk down the street, so it's kind of like a game we would play. We would walk down the streets and she would just stop somebody and she would just read and just be like, "This is what I feel about you." Their reaction would be like, "That's kind of spot on." Yeah, she definitely opened up my world to that as well.
Danielle: 13:06 But we were always into that. We were always into going into that little world. I know during that time it was impactual. She did it with me. She did it with me, but I'm trying to think of something in particular she said. The things that she said, I couldn't interpret at my age, but now I fully understand now. Yeah, it was pretty spot on. I always resonated with anything that Kristal said. I really did think she was very intuitive, very intuitive.
Danielle: 13:40 One thing she said was I wasn't awake. I didn't know what she meant by that. She was right because I wasn't awake during that time. I think she always knew what was going on in my head. Scorpios always go through births and transformations and they go through hardcore rebirths and transformations. There is a beautiful darkness about a Scorpio too. I think she was a little tapped into some of that darkness a little bit as well as some of that light. The last time I spoke to her, she said that she was trying to get in alignment. So she must have entered a period of darkness, which can happen sometimes when you're so tapped into those realms, and I think she was.
Danielle: 14:36 We met up for lunch. That's probably the best I've ever seen her because she was ready to be a mother and she wanted to be a mother. She was dedicated to being a mom. It changed her life like Olivia changed mine. I know that. She seemed like a very happy pregnant woman. We were eating Thai food. We went out for Thai. I'm trying to describe her presence when she's happy. I mean it will make you instantly smile. It's just very joyous.
Danielle: 15:11 When we would reconnect, we would always go back to what's it like being a mom. She was so ready and wanted to be a mom. I mean when she had her daughter and when she was pregnant, I think that's the most happiest I ever saw her. Yeah, she was hitting me up all the time. Yeah. More so on Facebook because her number changed constantly. I have seven different Kristal numbers.
Meredith: 15:36 We've heard that, that she didn't have the best luck with cell phones.
Danielle: 15:39 No. No. No, she didn't.
Danielle: 15:43 We had lunch and then she resurfaced again, but that's when she ... It was in those messages. She said she wasn't feeling in alignment. And then I think a couple months later, Kristal disappeared. I don't remember who posted it, but I saw her picture and I was like, what? I called the police to ask what information they had. He was like, "When you knew Kristal was she using drugs?" When we had lunch, she was glowing. She seemed like she had a direction and then when I talked to the cops, they made it sound like she was just this drug-addicted woman now that just took off.
Danielle: 16:30 They said she had an apartment and they investigated the apartment and it didn't look like it ... It wasn't ransacked. But the cops told me they basically just made it sound like she left her daughter and took off. It didn't sound right to me. It sounded a bit off. They treated her like she was a bum. My gut told me that's exactly gut reaction. She's just partying, just left her kid and yeah, they pretty ... It's the typical, that's Colorado. It's more slow cowboy attitude out here. It's a little judgmental.
Danielle: 17:09 I feel like she's brought you guys here, I really do. Just not having any answers, what you're doing is you're providing a lot of healing yourself.
AJ: 17:19 Kristal, she called me Adge or AJ. But she'd call me Adge all the time, AJ ran together.
Meredith: 17:37 I also spoke to Danielle and Kristal's friend, AJ. They were all in the same crew of friends in Denver. AJ is the one who got that strange friend request from Kristal after Kristal had already gone missing.
AJ: 17:49 When I met her, I was probably about 23, 24. We were all early 20s. We all were pierced, tattooed, kind of alternative. I think that's just what really drew us all together.
Meredith: 18:06 How would you describe Kristal?
AJ: 18:09 Free spirit. She was just always into spirituality and into healing people and into positive energy and positive things. Light, she'd always talked about the light. She was always just right there. Yeah, we all were there for each other. We were each other's backbone and each other's strength. There's not a day that goes by that I don't think about her. Her smile, her laugh, her voice, you could seriously hear her laugh a mile away and exactly know who it was. It was contagious, absolutely contagious.
AJ: 18:46 She was friends with everybody. She loved everybody, even strangers. She was friends with everybody. There wasn't anyone that she wouldn't give the shirt off her back to. Super enlightening all the time. I always call her Kristal clear. That was my thing of calling her because every time she talked, everything was clear as crystal. You could see through anything, that she made so much sense about everything. "Go talk to Kristal clear. She'll help you." She's very smart. She's great.
AJ: 19:23 Five and a half, six years ago was probably the last time I saw her and actually got to hang out with her in the same room. Was happy like she always was. She was super happy. I just knew that if she's missing, something bad happened because she's too strong of a person to run from anything. She's not just going to go up and disappear unless there was something that was really bothering her and she wanted to go for a weekend. Disappear that long especially without talking to someone, even a week or a month, that's unlike her.
Meredith: 20:04 I sat down with the Ervins, Rodney, Debbie, and their daughter, Amy. I wanted to hear a little bit more about Kasha and Kristal's relationship.
Debbie: 20:13 If Kristal had still been around, I could see Kasha would have been one of those given a lot of freedom and room to roam. But she was well-loved and Kasha knew ... You can tell when somebody knows they're loved. It's hard not to give your kids, as they're getting old enough to eat, little treats and, "Oh, have some M&M's," and want to give them those sugary things. Kristal was very adamant.
Amy: 20:41 Yeah, she was.
Debbie: 20:41 She did not eat meat. Kasha wasn't allowed to have meat. To this day, well, she's a little bit spoiled now, but it was fruits and vegetables and a lot of noodles.
Amy: 20:52 She'll take a bowl of blueberries over a lollipop-
Debbie: 20:56 A candy bar any day.
Amy: 20:57 ... any day. She just won't even eat it. It's just not of interest to her. She eats so healthy and doesn't think anything of it.
Debbie: 21:03 The first Easter when she wasn't an infant, so maybe a year and a half, I wanted to give her an Easter basket. They were staying with us at that time. I said, "Is it okay if I put something in there?" "She can a few M&M's, but that's it." I could not load it up with chocolate bunnies and all the little junk that you always load kids up with on Easter. She got to have a few and that was it. She was very health-conscious when it came to her.
Amy: 21:33 Very.
Debbie: 21:33 Just the quality of what Kasha ate and it wasn't just any fruits and vegetables. It was organic fruits and vegetables and only certain juices and stuff like that.
Amy: 21:45 Kasha never refused. Some of our nieces and nephews, it's like ...
Debbie: 21:48 Wouldn't touch a green vegetable.
Amy: 21:49 Kasha, it's like, "I'll try that. I'll try this. I'll try everything." She'll try a little bit of everything, which perhaps is just unique to being a child, but I think her mom-
Debbie: 21:59 When that's the way you're brought up.
Amy: 21:59 ... instilled in her to enjoy good foods, so she was a lot more curious to try different good foods as opposed to our other nieces and nephews who don't even want a quesadilla. She's going to carry on Kristal's legacy.
Chris Halsne: 22:19 I mean from the very beginning, her family just wants to find her. They suspect she's dead. If she was alive, there'd be a lot of questions, but they'd be overjoyed. We didn't try to solve this case. We tried to introduce our viewers, people in Colorado, to who Kristal was. She's this person with a daughter and people who love her. Just because she lives out in the middle of nowhere doesn't mean finding her isn't important. We just wanted to people to care about her enough to care about finding her.
Chris Halsne: 23:00 People on social media are cowards. They sit behind their keyboard and they can type up nasty, mean things that they would never say to someone's face. They're just trolls. Us in the media, we see it all the time. It doesn't matter what you do, there are trolls out there trying to disparage some of the greatest people out there. It's just part of the new anonymous game of social media. But I don't know whether they're real. Are they being serious? Or are they just haters?
Chris Halsne: 23:33 Kristal may not have made all the best choices in life, but I challenge anybody to say that they've made all the best choices in life. That doesn't mean that she didn't love her daughter. That doesn't mean that she didn't want to improve her life. It's really unfair to disparage somebody who is very likely the victim of a homicide.