The living room of Robert and Jessica Landry’s Lancaster home looks like most other living rooms, with family pictures adorning tables and walls. But on one wall, there’s a shrine of sorts, covered with pictures of a teenager smiling, making silly faces or posing with friends. In the center of it all sits a green urn filled with ashes of Sierra Landry, who was just 18 years old when she was shot last year in a yard, allegedly by her ex-boyfriend. Now, they’re taking steps to prevent another family from suffering what they have.
They are pushing what they call “Sierra’s Law,” which targets teen dating violence. Sierra was a bright and popular “all-American” teenager, they said, until she was 17 and started dating Tanner Crolley, 18, who is charged in Sierra’s shooting death. Her grades fell, and she dropped out of high school. “She started secluding herself,” Jessica Landry said. “She would always come up with excuses (not to spend time with us).”Hours, then days, then weeks would go by when Sierra would disappear with Crolley, Robert Landry said.
The Landrys did all they could to separate the pair, but Crolley was controlling and abusive, and Sierra couldn’t find a way to stay away, Jessica Landry said. She was so full of love for everyone, Robert Landry said, that she thought she could fix Crolley, could make him better. “This one, she couldn’t fix,” Robert Landry said.
When they did manage to see Sierra, Jessica Landry said, she began to notice bruises, small at first, then gradually bigger and bigger. Sierra would tell them she fell or ran into things.“I told her it’s not right,” Jessica Landry said. “As strong-willed as you are, why would you let somebody do that to you?”
Over the year that Sierra and Crolley’s relationship lasted, Sierra left him multiple times, the Landrys said. She’d get fed up and come home, but Crolley would harass her and the family over the phone and through social media. He’d drive by their house and show up wherever Sierra went, they said. Eventually, she’d go back to him, sure that this time, they’d be able to work it out. A few weeks before her death, though, Sierra had finally, truly had enough, they said. She had come home to her parents and her little brothers and was spending time with her friends. She getting her life back on track. She avoided Crolley, and she called her parents every few hours to check in and let them know she was safe.
On Monday, Dec. 30, a few days after the family celebrated Christmas together, Sierra said she was going to hang out with a friend.A few hours later, the friend’s mother called Jessica Landry to ask whether she’d seen Sierra. Sierra had gone somewhere with Crolley and didn’t meet up with her friend when she was supposed to. “Another friend called us and said Tanner had called him and said he’d shot Sierra and left her in the yard,” Jessica Landry said the woman told her. The Landrys thought it must just be a rumor, that it was too awful to be true.
After a series of 911 calls, the police contacted the Landrys and told them to “sit tight.” That was not possible, Jessica Landry said. She, her husband and other family members started driving, canvassing the community, looking for Sierra, looking for Crolley, looking for anything that might help them discover if anything had happened.
Robert Landry found a police car and followed it to what turned out to be the crime scene.“Everything just goes so numb, so dark,” Robert Landry said.Sierra was shot once, in the head, outside a home on John Everall Road.Police arrested Crolley at a store near the home where Sierra was shot. He had called his mother to pick him up, the Landrys said, but police were waiting. He was charged with murder and use of a deadly weapon. He’s being held in jail; a judge denied him bond again last week.Now, a cross with pink and white flowers sits across the street, cemented into the ground by Robert Landry, who said his family struggles every day with the question of why.