A 4-foot cross made of first-growth redwood has been permanently placed on the Ben Lomond roadside where local resident Joanna “Asha” Veil, seven months pregnant, was found murdered in 2006.
The memorial stands beside the road on private, gravel portion of Love Creek Road, at the exact place Veil’s body was found by a woman walking her dog Sept. 9, 2006.
The cross is engraved with the words: “Joanna ‘Asha’ Veil and her unborn child, June 15, 1978 — Sept. 9, 2006 — Memory Eternal.”
Former Ben Lomond resident Michael Patrick McClish, 43, was convicted of double murder on Dec. 6, 2011, more than five years after the crime.
John Christianson, a Boulder Creek resident and an ordained Antiochian Orthodox minister, decided to commission and place the cross earlier this year.
“For many years, I was served by Asha Veil at Ben Lomond Market,” Christianson said. “She was a bright bulb, a warm and friendly person. With all the press and attention, nothing had been done for her as far as a memorial.”
Veil’s parents live in Poland and her sister on the East Coast, so Christianson thought it would be appropriate to honor Veil’s memory in the valley. He had the cross fashioned by Darcy Machnee of Machnee Custom Woodworking and engraved by Diana Hinds of Scoma Woodworks.
“Memory eternal — that’s like saying, ‘Never forget,’” Christianson said. “It’s our way of saying that.”
Christianson, who is also the owner of Christianson Tree Service, said he had known the McClish family for many years. His family used to visit the McClish farm in Felton for produce.
“I remember little Mike running around the goat pen; we bought goat milk from the McClish farm,” he said. “That part is really sad.”
McClish is serving two consecutive terms of life in prison without the possibility of parole and a third term of 15 years to life in Salinas Valley State Prison for the murders. During his sentencing March 29 in Santa Cruz, he denied committing murder or hurting Veil in any way.
Christianson said people who have heard about the cross have been “pleasantly informed.”
He said he had tried to contact Veil’s sister on the East Coast with little success, and he planned to call her parents in Poland with the help of a Polish translator to inform them of the memorial.
“I just want to show light in the midst of all this darkness,” Christianson said.
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