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Teen's disappearance, death remain unsolved

| Saturday, July 6, 2013, 1:16 a.m.
Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
Jeanie Krimm and her granddaughter Jayda Kimberlie Rose Howard are surrounded by friends and family recalling happier times at the gravesite of Kimberlie Rose Krimm, Jayda's aunt and namesake, whose body was discovered near McKeesport and Versailles Cemetery on July 6, 1998.
Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
Tim Campbell Jr., a childhood friend of Kimberlie Krimm, keeps her memory close through a tattoo with the inscription found on her grave marker. He was among family and friends gathered to provide support for Kimberlie's mother Jeanie Krimm on the 15th anniversary of her daughter's disappearance.

It's been 15 years since the remains of Kimberlie Krimm were discovered on a hillside overlooking McKeesport and Versailles Cemetery, but the memory of the unsolved case remains a poignant one for her family and the community.

The 14-year-old last was seen alive by family when she left her McKeesport home on June 30, 1998, to visit a friend and go to a nearby store to buy hair coloring. When she didn't return home, she was reported missing. The girl's decomposing body was discovered six days later by a Duquesne Light contractor near an area of the cemetery that was a popular shortcut for those walking or running local errands.

Though it officially remains a mystery how the girl died, her mother, Jeanie Krimm, believes she was murdered. No one was ever charged in connection with the girl's death.

As the years pass, Krimm said recently, “I still hold out hope (that the case will be solved) but that hope fades as time passes. More than likely I'm going to go to my grave not knowing who killed Kimmie.”

Krimm noted her daughter would have turned 30 this year. Instead of celebrating a landmark birthday, however, she said she and other family members instead will have to go one more year coping with a tragedy that lacks closure.

“I never got a chance to see her have a job or raise a family,” Krimm said. “I'm mad and I'm hurt.”

Investigators never officially classified the death as a homicide because the body was in an advanced state of decay when it was found, something officials have attributed to weather conditions.

Krimm said she still thinks about how things could have played out differently. Not everyone — including her daughter — carried cell phones in that era. A call for help could have made a difference.

Operating under a theory that her daughter may have mouthed off to someone who in turn assaulted her, Krimm also wishes, if that is what happpened, that the assailant would have just let the incident go instead of responding with deadly force.

Though she's thought about a lot of what-if scenarios, Krimm said she holds out hope that the investigation will lead to an arrest.

McKeesport Magisterial District Judge Eugene Riazzi, who was a McKeesport police detective at the time, described the investigation as “one of those cases that I personally can never forget.”

“I pray there will be resolution for what really happened out there and that the person who did it is held responsible,” Riazzi said.

The district judge said the case will never be closed but the hope of solving it now most likely rests on someone coming forth and making a statement to authorities.

“It's the family more than anyone who has to endure the suffering,” Riazzi said. “They have to endure the lack of closure.”

Tom Greene, now assistant chief of the McKeesport police department, said the case is hard to forget because the victim was so young.

Greene said he thinks investigators followed all leads as far as they could take them.

“Everything that could have been done was done,” Greene said. “There really wasn't much to go on.”

Krimm said she puts much of her energy nowadays into trying to prevent violence and help victims of violence recover. She's active on social media and jokes about preaching from her soapbox.

“My job now is to try to comfort other mothers who are going through this,” she said. “It does get easier with time.”

Krimm said she doesn't have all of the answers to stopping violent crime, but said teens need to think before they act. She said young people often escalate violent behavior by posting images of booze, drugs and money on Facebook.

“Too many of us mothers are grieving over our babies being put in body bags,” she said. “This violence has to stop.”

Anyone with information about the case should call McKeesport police at 412-675-5015 or Allegheny County police at 412-473-3000. Callers can remain anonymous.

Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1966, or

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