When 8-year-old Kristine Zimmerman went missing from a grocery store parking lot in Ocean Shores, Washington, the town was already suffering with the repercussions of Mount St. Helens’ explosion in 1980. Initially classified as a missing person investigation, the incident was quickly upgraded to a homicide after Kristine’s strangled body was discovered.
‘Unusual Suspect: Ashes to Ashes,’ a documentary on Investigation Discovery, paints a graphic picture of the horrible murder and how the subsequent police investigation brought the culprit to justice.
If you’re intrigued by this case and want to know where Kristine’s killer is right now, we’ve got you covered.
What Caused Kristine Zimmerman’s Death?
Kristine Zimmerman, 8, shared a home with her brother and her divorced mother in Ocean Shores, Washington. Kristine was a bright and outgoing little girl who excelled in school and was well-liked. Kristine’s loved ones cherished her. However, she was bored at home at the time of her murder since she was stuck due to Mount St. Helens’ eruption.
Kristine, unable to stay at home any longer, chose to see a friend on May 26, 1980. However, when her mother called a few hours later to check on the young girl, she was nowhere to be discovered. Kristine had gone to the neighbourhood bowling alley, according to her friend’s mother, but the men who worked there denied seeing her that day.
Kristine’s mother became increasingly concerned for her daughter’s safety as the hours passed, and she eventually reported her missing to the police. When the cops got involved, they started asking around and discovered that Kristine was last seen racing about in a station waggon in a local grocery store parking lot.
Since then, no one had seen the young girl, and she appeared to have gone into thin air. In the days that followed, the police searched for Kristine using every known method. Locals also got involved in the hunt and went over the surrounding areas, but to no effect.
Finally, a trail in the volcanic ash provided officials with an unusual lead, and they were able to follow the tracks to a wooded region just outside the city. Kristine’s body was discovered there, and while an examination revealed that she had been strangled to death, there were also traces of sexual abuse.
Who Killed Kristine Zimmerman and Why?
Kristine’s assassination terrified the surrounding community, who couldn’t comprehend why someone would want to harm an innocent eight-year-old girl. Despite the fact that the police conducted multiple interviews and attempted to compile a list of suspects, Kristen’s friends and family had no idea who would wish to harm her.
Furthermore, the locals provided numerous leads and recommendations, all of which proved to be dead ends, considerably slowing down the inquiry. According to the show, investigators got a significant break when local pastor Max Vollendroff’s step-daughter informed them she saw Kristine get into the car with Max on the day of the murder.
Max claimed he had nothing to do with the murder when questioned, but a polygraph test soon proved him wrong. Furthermore, when the police discovered Kristine’s hair in Max’s car, the hair of the suspect was examined and determined to be microscopically comparable to the evidence obtained from the victim’s body. Max was arrested and charged with murder when physical evidence linked him to the killing.
Is Max Vollendroff aAlive or Dead?
Max Vollendroff pleaded guilty to first-degree murder after being brought before the court. In 1980, the judge sentenced him to life in prison based on his plea. According to the episode, Max was still serving time in prison when he died in February 2012 at the age of 77. His death has yet to be determined.