Engraved on Kimmie Krimm’s marker: “When you look up into the evening sky and see the brightest star shining down on earth, pause for a moment and remember that star’s name is Kimberlie Rose Krimm.” (Lynne Glover photo, special to Tube City Almanac)
Having recently been released from the hospital, Jeanie Krimm said it was simply too much for her to plan a 20-year anniversary remembrance for her daughter, Kimberlie Rose Krimm.
Fourteen-year-old Kimberlie Krimm's body was found 20 years ago this week, on July 6, 1998, on a hillside at McKeesport & Versailles Cemetery by a utility worker.
“People talk about pain,” said Jeanie Krimm, two decades after her daughter’s death. “They don’t know pain until they lose a child. I’ll never be the same. Never.”
Part of the suffering is not really knowing what happened to Kimberlie, and how and why she died. The cause and manner of Kimmie’s death were ruled “undetermined” by the Allegheny County Coroner's Office—and it was never officially declared a homicide.
But Jeannie Krimm believes her daughter was murdered on the very day she disappeared, June 30, 1998, while walking to the store.
The "Who Killed Kimberlie Krimm" Facebook page notes that “police say all leads have been exhausted and the case now rests on someone coming forward with information.”
That’s just what former McKeesport Police Detective Eugene Riazzi, now a magisterial district judge, believes will happen.
He remembers the day Kimberlie’s body was found. “I’ll never forget it,” Riazzi said. “There were things in my career that stand out, and to this day, I remember it like yesterday.”
Jeanie Krimm said her daughter's body was found face down, with her pants around her ankles. “Which in my head, means there was sexual activity there,” she said. One of Kimberlie’s shoes was found along a shortcut path near the cemetery, and another outside the gate.
“I think that whatever happened, happened somewhere else,” Jeanie Krimm said.
But the week between Kimberlie's disappearance and the discovery of her remains was hot and humid. Temperatures hit nearly 80 degrees every day, except one. And on July 3, the high in McKeesport was 84.
“Her body was really destroyed by the elements and animals,” Jeanie Krimm said. “It was too badly decomposed to rule a homicide. That just baffles me.”
While Riazzi wouldn’t comment too much on the case itself, because it's still open, he believes that someone knows what happened, and someday, the full truth will be known.
“One of these days, it will come out,” he said. “Someone will say something to someone, and it will get out.”
The case was turned over by the McKeesport Police Department to the Allegheny County police, who took the lead in the investigation. McKeesport police did not return multiple calls to discuss the case.
“We look at cold cases as resources are available," said Allegheny County spokesperson Amie Downs. "There is always a hope that additional information will be provided.”
Anyone having tips or information on the Kimberlie Krimm case is asked to contact the Allegheny County Police Department at 412-473-1300 or 833-ALL-TIPS (833-255-8477), Downs said, but declined further comment.
Dr. Karl Williams became Allegheny County's chief medical examiner in 2007 and was not part of the Krimm investigation. “It’s pretty difficult to say natural death” was the cause, he said. “There’s no reason to die … of natural death at that age.”
Based on descriptions of Krimm's disappearance and remains, "it’s hard not to think that something happened to her untoward,” he said.
If Kimmie Krimm’s autopsy been performed in 2018 instead of 1998, would advances in technology or forensic science have made it possible to definitively say that she was murdered --- and identify a suspect?
“Probably not,” Williams said, although he noted that toxicology screenings have become more sophisticated.
Still, Jeanie Krimm can’t understand why Kimberlie’s death wasn’t ruled a homicide.
“I can’t figure that one out," she said. "The police will tell you that it’s a homicide, but legally the coroner cannot rule it a homicide. Kimberlie was definitely murdered. They can’t prove it, but I talked to police involved and they will tell you she was murdered.”
Jeanie Krimm has her own theory about what happened: “I think maybe she took short cut that was very convenient and ran into something she wasn’t supposed to see … people drinking, getting high.
"She was experimenting with alcohol and marijuana, and someone said, ‘You wanna drink? Smoke a joint?’ ‘Yeah, sure.’ And they started getting a little frisky and Kimmie didn’t want anything to do with it. She was a feisty little thing and probably fought tooth and nail. And I don’t want to be a Pollyanna, but I don’t think they didn’t want to kill her. But I think Kimmie didn’t shut up.”
Above: The shortcut where Jeanie Krimm believes her daughter was likely attacked. (Lynne Glover photo, special to Tube City Almanac)
Last week, a member of the “Who Killed Kimberlie Krimm” Facebook group posted a story about a Lancaster, Pa., man who was recently arrested for a 1992 murder of a schoolteacher. “I thought of your Kimberlie right away,” said the poster on the Facebook group.
Kimberlie Krimm’s cemetery marker, made possible through donations, was placed along the cemetery shortcut just about 20 feet below where her body was found two decades ago. “It’s more symbolic,” said Jeanie Krimm, noting that she had her daughter cremated. But, the stone marker remains a “special place” to Jeanie Krimm.
“There was a time when I called the Allegheny County detectives every single day” looking for answers, Krimm said. “It’s hard, but I faced reality. Whoever killed Kimberlie is probably dead by now.”
“I’m trying to be a little spiritual now. God only gives you as much as you can handle,” she said.
In May, Jeanie Krimm said she was thinking of having a memorial service sometime in the future for her daughter but wants to hold it in a church because “this is not a joyous thing.”
Since then, she’s been contemplating a release of lighted paper lanterns on Kimberlie’s birthday and was looking for a location for that.
“I have aged 100 years since Kimberlie died,” Jeanie Krimm said. “If I forget about her, then so does everybody else.”
“We’ll do something for her birthday on Sept. 10,” she said. “Physically and emotionally, it’s just too much right now.”
Two decades after her daughter’s death, the hurt is still fresh, Jeanie Krimm said: “I miss her.”
Lynne Glover is a freelance writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally published July 04, 2018.