GREELEY – Two and a half years ago, I took off my journalist’s hat and poured out my personal feelings, trying to make some sense of a horrendous crime that hit too close to home. It was probably one of the hardest pieces I have ever had to write, until now.
A friend I’d had since high school had been brutally murdered in what looked like a jealous rage by another man. His body was found near Pingree Park off Old Flower’s Road in the Poudre Canyon just days after he went missing. His throat was cut, nearly through to his spinal column, and his body set on fire.
It was the middle of winter and snow had fallen the night before, so his killer was convinced that a combination of the cold, snow and remote location would bury his existence forever.
That one fact has haunted me since we learned of Scott Session’s death on Feb. 12, 2020. Had that heroic snowplow driver for Larimer County not stopped to put out what he thought was a smoldering campfire, Scott’s body would likely have never been found, and the pain his family and friends have felt since that horrible night would have never gone away.
Just days after Scott was found, a woman he had been trying to develop a relationship with was also found dead, east of Greeley in a wood pile, just a few feet from a burn pit. The man who was found guilty in both Scott and Heather Frank’s deaths this week was arrested just a few miles down the road buying gas for that burn pit that he was seen using just moments earlier.
Again, had that snowplow driver not been in the right place, at the right time, with the right response, it is possible that Heather’s body would have never been found either. She would likely have ended up smoldering in that burn pit because police would still be looking for both of them, and not know of the tumultuous, 7-year, on-again, off-again violent relationship Heather had with Kevin Eastman.
So, when I think of all the witnesses, all the good men and women of the Larimer and Weld County Sheriff’s Offices, the Greeley and Fort Collins police, the prosecutors, the judge, the court clerks, and especially the 16 members of the jury who gave up nearly 4 weeks of their jobs, families and lives, I can’t thank them enough for finally bringing peace to the families and countless friends of both victims. But that snowplow driver is the one person who I can’t get off my mind.
So, as I sit here today, thrilled this is over — Eastman was sentenced to two consecutive life-without-parole sentences plus an additional 27 years, also consecutive, for killing and then tampering with the bodies and evidence in this case — I’m at peace, despite the past two and one-half years of holy terror for myself and dozens of family members and friends of Sessions’ and Frank’s looking for answers and justice.
Eastman will now rot in jail.
That is something I have wanted to say for so long but couldn’t. But there are a lot of things I’ve wanted to say during this time that I haven’t because I couldn’t.
When this all started, I chose to cover this trial on behalf of all of Scott’s and Heather’s friends and families because I know me. I am, and always have been a perfectionist. And — had I not covered it — I would have still followed every piece of evidence and every witness testimony and every cross examination, and then I would have cussed at the TV or the newspaper for not getting it exactly right. Not because they intentionally got something wrong, but because I know how reporting works, and coverage is not perfect, but I needed this coverage to be perfect.
I know I’m not perfect either, but I worked overtime to make sure my coverage was fair and accurate. If there was one thing I wanted more than anything, it was a fair trial for Eastman. That’s the way the system works, and at the end of the day, I did not want any reason to question the verdict.
But now that it’s over. Now that we all have a chance to move forward, I have some things I need to say.
Scott’s murder happened at the very beginning of COVID. None of us have been able to properly grieve his death. No service, no memorial, no nothing. His mother died just weeks after he did, so his dad and brother have had to go without being able to properly say goodbye to two members of their family. So, what Eastman did was take away Scott’s ability to be by his mom’s side as she died.
As someone who watched my own mother die in my home, I know the peace it gave me being by her side. And I’m sick that my friend of 40 years had that ripped from him and that his mother had having him by her side ripped from her!
But the one thing I have wanted to publicly say for a very long time is political, and as much as I don’t want Scott’s death to be political, I’m going to say it anyway.
We no longer have the death penalty in this state. Taking that off the table ties the hands of prosecutors when it comes to possible plea bargains. Had we still had a death penalty, this trial may have never happened, and the families of Scott and Heather may have never had to spend the last 30 months of their lives in a living hell waiting for justice, listening to lie after lie about their loved ones in the name of a “fair trial.”
While Eastman now will get three square and a roof over his head for decades to come on the taxpayer’s dime, Scott’s and Heather’s families are now planning what to do with their ashes.
It just didn’t have to be this way!
But mostly, I need everyone to know that the idea that Scott raped anyone is one of the most horrible things anyone can say — especially a man like Kevin Eastman who spent 7 years terrorizing Heather.
Scott was gentle and kind to everyone he met. His smile was infectious, and his heart was big. He meant different things to different people, but everyone who met him loved him.
We will never know why Heather didn’t go to police during that time between Scott’s death and her death, but I never believed for not even one minute that she killed Scott, an alternative theory of his killing offered up by the defense. I hurt for her family and friends as much as I hurt for Scott’s.
I also hurt for Kevin’s sister. She was doing all she could to help him find a better life. As we sat in that courtroom celebrating our win, watching the tears in her eyes knowing her brother would never be free again broke my heart. No one should ever have to go through that!
Scott’s father Stan and his brother Steve are my heroes! They kept me sane with our conversations. Their ability to forgive Eastman and trust the process through all this showed unbelievable strength I can only hope to have someday. I’m not ready to forgive just yet, but maybe with their strength to guide me, I can somehow find a way at some point.
It’s been a long two and one-half years, but we finally have the justice we so needed in this case, and peace can come to everyone involved.
But mostly … God Bless that snowplow driver! Scott’s friends and family will never be able to forget what you did!
Sherrie Peif is an investigative reporter for Complete Colorado. She has covered the double-murder of Scott Sessions and Heather Frank since their bodies were discovered. All of her reporting on the murders is available here.
Our unofficial motto at Complete Colorado is “Always free, never fake, ” but annoyingly enough, our reporters, columnists and staff all want to be paid in actual US dollars rather than our preferred currency of pats on the back and a muttered kind word. Fact is that there’s an entire staff working every day to bring you the most timely and relevant political news (updated twice daily) from around the state on Complete’s main page aggregator, as well as top-notch original reporting and commentary on Page Two.
CLICK HERE TO LADLE A LITTLE GRAVY ON THE CREW AT COMPLETE COLORADO. You’ll be giving to the Independence Institute, the not-for-profit publisher of Complete Colorado, which makes your donation tax deductible. But rest assured that your giving will go specifically to the Complete Colorado news operation. Thanks for being a Complete Colorado reader, keep coming back.