Her mugshot from a 2015 drug roundup in Cumberland County was one of the most shocking ever to be sent to the WATE 6 On Your Side newsroom. Crystal Sturgill of Crossville looked far older than her 28 years at the time of her arrest on felony narcotics charges.
Recently, one of Sturgill’s friends reached out on Facebook, saying Sturgill had worked hard to change her life. She’s now truly beating the odds.
You would never recognize her in a million years. Sturgill, now 32, looks like a typical mom hanging out with her daughter. It’s a far cry from August 2015 during the drug roundup.
Sturgill’s mugshot stood out from all the others.
“I woke up to a bunch of cops in my house and guns in my face and you know, the whole nine,” Sturgill said. “And it was just, I didn’t know what was going on.”
She was just coming off a marathon of meth and pills.
“That picture. I was up for like 20 something days. I was up for a long time, a very long time,” she remembered. “I don’t really remember them taking the picture.”
Sturgill said she kept asking what she was being charged with and was told she was being indicted for selling drugs.
“I should be dead, really. I was living a lifestyle that was so unsafe. Running from the cops and having guns and shooting at people and – I mean, I never shot anybody but I didn’t care. I was fearless and reckless and I didn’t care who I hurt, when I hurt them, or if they hurt me,” Sturgill said.
Her downward spiral, Sturgill says, gained speed when she miscarried twin boys during an abusive relationship in 2011. She was nearly six months pregnant. The babies are buried in a cemetery close to home.
“I held them, they died, and we went on from there,” Sturgill said. “But I was never the same after that. A very big part of my life was dead to me that day.”
She said the drugs were a form of escape.
“I was suffering with such bad depression after losing them like that, that when I did pills, I noticed it took, I’d be nodded off, and I wouldn’t have to deal with life in general,” she said.
Sturgill’s daughter Alexis was five at the time. Now twelve, she’s been through so much, including fallout from the mugshot she calls her mother’s “before” picture.
“I was bullied in school [because of] her before picture. Everybody was calling me a zombie since she looked exactly like me and it felt like, four days after that she come home for a four-day break and she was sober and I’ve never seen her so happy in her life,” said Alexis Presley.
Sturgill spent some jail time on that felony narcotics charge, but part of her sentence included rehab at Adult & Teen Challenge USA in Louisiana. That’s where she discovered a newfound faith in God, and started to turn her life around.
“All the girls in my pod were like, ‘What’s happening to you? You’re not cussing anymore, you’re not trying to pick fights,'” Sturgill said. “I’m reading the Bible and they were like, ‘Who are you really? What’s really going on?'”
Sturgill’s efforts landed her a job. She spends most of her time carefully cleaning First United Methodist Church in Crossville, from the pulpit to the pews, and begins many a day in prayer with her boss, Stuart Sitton, co-owner of a cleaning company called “Maid New Cleaning Services.” It’s for people like Crystal, in recovery, trying to build new lives.
“They needed employment,” Sitton said. “They needed a future, they needed hope, and we just felt the Lord leading us to open the company for that.”
Sturgill owns her past and is taking careful steps to ensure a good future for herself and her daughter. She’s now proud of her hard-won driver license. She’s overcoming one challenge at a time.
“I never thought I’d be sitting here today, right now, with my life looking the way it looks.”