News Tribune

Published: 11-16-96

Category: Front Page

Page: A1

Keywords: Crime, Arrest, Local/State, Child, Murder, Death, Suspect, Rape, Kidnap

Image: COLOR PHOTO: Cindy Allinger, 9, was found dead July 17 in a field near I-5. A suspect was arrested Friday.

Byline: Anthony K. Albert; The News Tribune

A suspect was arrested Friday night in the July slaying of a 9-year-old Lakewood girl, Cindy Allinger.

The 30-year-old man had been considered a "person of interest" in the case since shortly after the girl's disappearance July 4.

Friday, Pierce County sheriff's detectives received the DNA evidence they had been waiting for since Cindy's body was found July 17.

The evidence matched a blood sample provided by the man, said Curt Benson, sheriff's spokesman.

Friday evening, detectives armed with an arrest warrant took the man into custody at the Java Jump, an all-ages nightspot in Fife where he had been assisting a band.

The man is expected to be arraigned Monday on charges of aggravated first-degree murder, kidnapping in the first degree and rape of a child in the first degree.

The News Tribune's policy is to withhold the names of crime suspects until they are formally charged in court.

"We're pleased that this arrest will hopefully bring closure for the family," Benson said.

He acknowledged frustration in waiting for the evidence to be processed.

"I think the patience has paid off," Benson said.

Cindy, a slender 4-foot-tall girl who wore a floral-pattern dress, was last seen July 4 when she left her family's home in the Garden Court Apartments near McChord Air Force Base to play outside.

In the following days, hundreds of searchers checked lakes and woods and went door to door, looking for the child. The Federal Bureau of Investigation offered a $5,000 reward and drew a psychological profile.

But Cindy's body was found July 17 in a wooded area near Bridgeport Way Southwest and Interstate 5. The area is just three blocks northeast of Clover Creek, where searchers had concentrated their efforts.

Investigators became interested in the 30-year-old man because witnesses had seen him with the girl the day she vanished. He lived just down the street from her family.

At that time, the man insisted he had nothing to do with the girl's disappearance and was not in the neighborhood July 4.

He claimed detectives were focusing on him only because of his criminal record.

"It's my past coming up to haunt me," the man said last summer.

As a teenager, he was convicted in 1982 in Pierce County of sexual assault against a 16-year-old girl and served five years in prison. In 1990, he served five months after he pleaded guilty to assaulting a 10-year-old Olympia girl.

Friday night, Rick Lambert, who manages the Java Jump, said five detectives walked into his establishment early in the evening, shortly before the band was to start playing.

The suspect was in handcuffs and in the front seat of an unmarked police car in less than a minute, Lambert said.

The band members were "shocked" by the arrest, Lambert said, because they thought the matter had been cleared up because no arrest had been made.

Amy Blackmon, who said she has known the suspect about a year, was at the club watching her husband play bass in the band Loving Cup.

At the time of the girl's disappearance, Blackmon said, the man called her and told her that "it wasn't him and that he was a victim of circumstances."

She said that people who knew him have been disassociating themselves from him.

Blackmon remembered seeing an undercover officer at the Java Jump two months ago when the man was assisting a band.

Blackmon didn't have much to say about the man's arrest, but she said, "I hope for the parents' sake they can get this taken care of."

Rick Adamson, lead detective on the case, said the interview with the suspect lasted for just a few minutes before the man asked for his lawyer.

Adamson said he was relieved they were able to identify a suspect in the case.

Benson acknowledged for the first time Friday that the little girl had been sexually assaulted. Adamson said bodily fluids found at the crime scene matched both the suspect and the girl.

Adamson said police have continued working the case, and that more evidence may still come in to make the case even stronger.

"The bulk of the work is done," Adamson said. "It's just wrapping up loose ends now."