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Family Mourns Woman Found Dead Inside Suitcase In Knoxville Shed

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - The family of a woman found dead inside a suitcase in a shed behind a home in the city's Knoxville neighborhood says they're still trying to process what happened.

"She didn't deserve to be chopped up and thrown away," said her father Drexel Connelly.

Connelly says his daughter, 38-year-old Crystal Leshner was one of the most loving people. He said she was a woman who had a laugh that was hard to forget.

"Her laugh. Oh my gosh it was so obnoxious," said sister Kacey Gola.

Crystal Leshner
(Photo: provided)

Three of Leshner's sisters stood beside their dad on Monday near the shed where her body was found, sharing the horrific details of what happened to her. Gola said the family got the call right after dinner Saturday night.

"Hours progressed and we found out she had been chopped up and stuffed inside of a suitcase and placed inside of that shed," said Gola.

Investigators say Leshner was wrapped in plastic and folded in a fetal position inside the suitcase. The medical examiner found several cuts on her body and ruled her death a homicide. Police say the suspect is 26-year-old Montel Reed of Pittsburgh, Leshner's boyfriend.

montel reed
(Photo: Allegheny County Jail)

"We've only known they were dating for a little bit. We didn't know how long it was. We've never met him. We've seen pictures and she's talked about him like he's a normal guy and she was in love with him," said sister Chanel Warner.

"She had been beaten up by the same boyfriend a week before she died. My brother picker her up and removed her from the situation but went back," said Gola.

Leshner lived in the back of the home on Reifert Street. Detectives say Reed lived in the basement of the house, and Leshner's family says Reed's sister and mom lived in the home.

During questioning, police say Reed eventually confessed to the murder, telling police he stabbed her multiple times during a domestic dispute on Dec. 27 inside the space Leshner was renting. Investigators say Reed hid her body in a storage area inside of her living space the next day, before moving it to the shed last Wednesday.

"No family should ever have to go through this," said Connelly.

Reed faces several charges including criminal homicide. He's currently in the Allegheny County Jail.

Officers say they arrested Reed four times in 2021 for domestic-related assaults involving Leshner.

Reed was recently charged with simple assault early last month. He was released from jail a few weeks later, then arrested again on Jan. 6 for an outstanding warrant for an assault, one week before at the same home where Leshner's body was found. Reed told investigators the assault that took place before Leshner's body was found was between him and another man and they both suffered stab wounds.

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