Friend vividly remembers the day Christy Ann Fornoff was taken - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Valley And State

Friend vividly remembers the day Christy Ann Fornoff was taken

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Posted: Tuesday, May 24, 2011 1:08 pm | Updated: 5:18 pm, Fri Mar 9, 2012.

The weekend of May 11, 1984, Kristina Batchelder was looking forward to meeting her friend and former classmate Christy Ann Fornoff for one of their many roller skating outings at the Roller World rink in Tempe.

But that was the day Christy's body was found wrapped in a sheet behind a Dumpster at the Rock Point Apartments, 2045 S. McClintock Drive.

About a week later, Batchelder (now Kristina Reese) attended Christy's funeral.

Fornoff, who was a seventh-grader at Tempe's Connolly Middle School, was killed by Donald Beaty, then a 29-year-old maintenance supervisor at the apartment complex. Fornoff was collecting subscription payments for her Phoenix Gazette newspaper route two days earlier when Beaty pulled her into his apartment, sexually assaulted and suffocated her while gagging her to the point she choked on her own vomit as she called out for her mother who was helping her on her route that day. Carol Fornoff let her daughter go ahead to a building when she stopped to talk to a tenant.

Beaty, now 56, was sentenced to death for first-degree murder and sexual assault in Christy's death in July 1985, and at 10 a.m. today, he is scheduled to become the 89th person executed in Arizona since 1910 and the 23rd person in the state to die by lethal injection.

Reese, who has been calling up the Department of Corrections website for the last eight years to check on Beaty's status, said when she makes the 45-minute drive to Florence from her home in Gilbert, she'll be thinking of Christy, their friendship, hanging out at each other's houses "talking about boys," being in the same classes and roller skating about every other week to the tunes of Michael Jackson, Journey and the Village People's "Y.M.C.A."

"Christy is still very much in our hearts and on our minds," Reese said, speaking for a number of classmates affected by the tragedy. "Now that many of us have children of our own, her death takes on a whole different meaning."

Reese, who will turn 40 in July, the age Christy now would've been, described Christy as someone who "had a lot of friends." Reese also said that when the graduation was held at McKemy Middle School, where Christy attended and played French horn in the band before transferring to Connolly, classmates honored and memorialized her as they would also do during McClintock High School's 1989 commencement and later at class reunions or when other dates connected to Christy came around.

"It's been a long time," said Reese, who is married and has three children of her own, a son 12, and two daughters, ages 9 and 8. "Everything we've gotten to experience, we've included Christy in it. She should've been there. She was gone, but not forgotten. She was such a fun-loving person. Really, everyone pretty much liked her ... She touched a lot of lives."

The morning of May 10, 1984, still is seared into Reese's memory.

"I was getting ready for school and my sisters always had the radio on in the morning," Reese said. "This particular morning it was on KZZP (104.7-FM) and (deejay) Bruce Kelly was on. He had announced that she was missing as I came down the stairs to borrow something from my older sister. That was 27 years ago and I can still remember that detail and even hear Bruce Kelly's voice saying that Christy Fornoff was missing."

The next morning, the news came over the radio airwaves that Christy's body had been found behind the Dumpster at the complex. Beaty, who placed her body by the Dumpster himself and told police he found it, was arrested 10 days later after enough evidence was gathered against him.

The fear and sadness is evident in Reese's voice nearly three decades later.

"Everyone became frightened," Reese said. "We all thought if this could happen to Christy, this could happen to us. It's hard enough having to deal with the death of an adult, but when you deal with the death of a child and it's your friend, it was such a horrible thing. We were relieved when the person who did it was arrested. What has always stuck out from that time was being so young and growing up in Tempe - things like that didn't happen in Tempe then. I only imagined what fear Christy went through and how scared she was. She was such a good person.

"Back then, Christy's death helped form our opinions about the death penalty, something we should not have had to think about as kids."

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