Note: This story originally published on June 15, 1995 in the Idaho Statesman.
A bare bulb lit Gina Krieger’s small basement bedroom and music played softly in the background.
Her father, Daniel, brushed aside the curtained doorway to wake his 14-year-old daughter for school the morning of Feb. 28.
Gina wasn’t there.
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Her bed was stripped of blankets, and her karate sword was missing from her wall. A moist red puddle was seeping into the carpet.
Daniel was standing in Gina’s blood.
He raced up the cement stairs and phoned police.
For the moment, the pairs of bloody footprints and the blood at the back door went unnoticed.
Cassia County Sheriff’s deputies initially believed Regina Krieger known as Gina had run away from home sometime after 11 p.m. on Feb. 27.
For six weeks, rumors flew: Was Daniel involved in his daughter’s disappearance? Did the girl run away?
When Gina’s partially clothed body surfaced April 15 on the banks of the Snake River, they knew they’d been wrong.
Gina had been stabbed in the heart, and her throat had been slit.
Still, townspeople wondered aloud: Did Daniel kill his daughter?
“’How could the dad not hear what happened in his own house?”’ Sgt. Dave Tracy asked, echoing the gossip he’d heard. “In order to stop the rumors, we had Dad take a polygraph test. The results were inconclusive, because he was emotionally distraught.”
In his home this week, Daniel stared blankly at a framed photo of his daughter it was her last junior high school picture.
“I love my kids,” Daniel said softly. ”I’d give my life for my kids. I built the basement bedroom for Gina because I wanted her to be comfortable and have a home. ... I really miss her bad.”
After conducting a slew of interviews, Tracy now suspects Gina was killed by teenagers perhaps those in her circle of friends.
Tracy has narrowed his investigation to fewer than five teen-agers from Burley, Heyburn and Rupert.
“I don’t know who’s a suspect and who’s a witness,” Tracy said. “There are people out there who know. When kids do things, they talk.”
But if any kids in Burley know who killed Gina, they aren’t talking.
Daniel may never understand why his little girl is dead.
“She had the best day of her life the day she died,” Daniel said.
And it had been a long time since Gina was happy.
Two years ago, Gina began experimenting with a drug called crank.
Last year, her parents announced they were getting a divorce.
At least twice, Gina had threatened to overdose on aspirin or slit her wrists.
Feb. 27 started out as a routine school day.
In her green, wire-bound journal, Gina wrote:
“Today I found out I won’t have to drop out of school ... I’ll have to work my ass off ... Melissa gets out of juvie today. I wonder if she’ll come visit me. ... Right now, I’m really craving a smoke real bad ... I wish it was lunch. ...”
Daniel describes his daughter as a bright girl with dreams of becoming a professional singer. But her grades were slipping.
He suspects friends she met at a church youth group introduced Gina to drugs like crank.
Drug abuse coupled with her parents’ divorce weighed heavy on Gina.
“The divorce it was the hardest thing Gina had been through in her life,” Daniel said. “She was a pretty mixed up kid through all this. ... But in the last two months, she was cleaning up her act. She was back to being the old Gina, happy-go-lucky.”
That evening, she strapped on her Rollerblades and headed to Patty Maglaughlin’s 17th birthday party.
Patty and her 15-year-old sister, Melissa, were among Gina’s closest friends.
“We had a water fight we were spraying the guys and Gina got caught in the middle,” Patty recalls. “We had fun. She didn’t act upset. When she left my house that night, she was happy.”
At home, she argued with her dad about changing her curfew to 10:30 p.m. on weekends, an hour earlier.
“I went to bed, but the kids stayed up late to watch TV,” Daniel said. “Clif (her younger brother) was the last one to say goodbye to Gina.”
Weeks later on April 15, a Cassia County man and his daughter were horseback riding along the Snake River.
On the bank near their home, they saw her.
Tangled among branches, Gina’s body had swept onto the east bank of the Snake River, near the Montgomery Bridge.
No one but the killer knows how she got there.
But police have a theory:
A group of teenagers crept into Gina’s room after midnight, pierced a knife through, hashed her throat. Wrapping her body in a blanket, they left a puddle of blood on the carpet.
The drops of blood leading to the Kriegers’ back gate marks their path, Sgt. Tracy said. Finding the gate locked, they headed around the front of the house, tossed the body into a waiting get-away car and later dumped it in the Snake River.
Patty says Tracy’s theory misses the mark.
“I don’t know (who killed Gina) but I heard she didn’t get killed at her house,” Patty said. “I think she was knocked out somehow, then three days later she was killed. I kind of think it’s maybe because she was going to talk, maybe about drugs. Who knows. But it was probably drugs.”
One Rupert boy is rumored to have seen Gina’s body in a bathroom, wrapped in a blanket, before he ran in fear.
Other rumors involve her youth-group friends, who know what happened and aren’t telling, some say.
Tracy’s heard the rumors. Proving them is a bit tougher.
Pouring through Gina’s journal and her day-planner, Tracy found a phone list.
“I called every name on that list,” Tracy said. “They were all either her best friends or they’d never heard of her. The people from (the youth group) they said they barely knew her.”
Nearly four months after Gina was killed, Tracy has waded through hours of taped interviews, dozens of false tips, and too many rumors.
He’ll continue grilling the tight-lipped teen-agers he’s singled out, hoping someone will tell him the truth. “The community’s going to have to pull together to solve this one,” Tracy said.