News Tribune

Published: 07-20-96

Category: Front Page

Page: A1

Keywords: Local/State, Murder, Death, Child/Children, Cause, Crime

Image: COLOR PHOTO: Cindy Allinger

Byline: Russell Working; The News Tribune; Elaine Porterfield and Angela Galloway

As searchers bent double combing weeds and brambles for evidence, officials said Cindy Allinger died violently at a lot littered with bottles, boards, mattresses and a broken Big Wheel.

"We believe that this is the crime scene," Pierce County sheriff's Capt. Nik Dunbar said Friday.

The 9-year-old girl, who disappeared July 4, probably was killed that day, investigators said.

They attributed her death to "homicidal violence," although they refused to reveal the cause of her death.

An autopsy Friday morning used dental records to confirm the remains found Wednesday at 123rd Street Southwest were Cindy's, the Pierce County medical examiner's office said.

A friend of Cindy's family, Rosie Castro, said the girl's younger sisters had been told about her death. The 3-year-old sister can't really understand, but the 7-year-old does, Castro said.

"She knows she's in heaven," Castro said.

Castro, who has helped care for the two girls during the ordeal, said everyone is having trouble comprehending Cindy's violent death, especially Cindy's mother, Rhonda Plank.

"She is in shock, really, really bad," Castro said.

The girl's playmates are having difficulties as well, she said.

"Her friends are taking it pretty bad," Castro said. "I look at my own little girl and just cry." Funeral arraignments are not yet complete, she said.

Officials said it could compromise their hunt for the killer to offer more details about how she died. They wouldn't say whether she had been sexually assaulted.

Dunbar said investigators wanted to make sure some information remains a secret shared only by a few: the killer and those seeking to solve the crime.

The sheriff's department continued a round-the-clock surveillance of its "person of interest," a 30-year-old man who used to live in Cindy's neighborhood near McChord Air Force base. But detectives have not interviewed him since Cindy's body was found, Dunbar said.

The man has a juvenile rape record and pleaded guilty to assaulting a 10-year-old girl in Olympia in 1990.

Between 30 and 50 Search and Rescue Explorer Scouts from around the state searched the lot, at times on their hands and knees, for anything that looked out of place, Dunbar said.

"What we have found here has not brought us any closer to arrest than we were three or four days ago," Dunbar said.

Under a tree by the lot where Cindy died, people left flowers and stuffed animals - teddy bears, a gorilla wearing a mortarboard, a morose hound dog, all wrapped in plastic to protect against the rain. Cindy had loved animals, neighbors said.

Some wrote notes on fliers handed out when Cindy was still a missing child and there was still hope.

"God bless you, Cindy," stated one. Another read, "Rest in Peace, Cindy."

Neighbors were shaken by the killing. They don't live in the best of areas, they said, but no one expected this. Now some of them are talking about moving.

Nichole Simmons, who lives in the same apartment complex as Cindy's family, said the killing of a child is incomprehensible.

"A lot of the questions today are 'why?' ... The second-biggest question on my mind is 'Who?'" Simmons said.

(News Tribune reporters Elaine Porterfield and Angela Galloway contributed to this report.)