Kimberly Dianne La Vine
27 Years Old

January 2, 1958 to March 9, 1985

Kimberly was our third child and first girl. At the time of her birth in Peterborough, NH, she had two brothers, Michael and Joel, and later acquired two additional sisters and one brother, Nancy, Shannon and Robert.

Kim was a great joy to both her parents, but her father became particularly attached to her as a baby because of her exceptionally agreeable disposition when compared to her two older brothers at the same age.

Very early in life, Kim demonstrated a high degree of independence without being in any way defiant or disrespectful of parental authority. In preparation for her first day of Kindergarten in Laconia, NH, Kim's mother took her on a walking trip to her school. When the big day finally arrived, her mother took her hand and stated to escort her on the way to her new adventure. Looking at her mother in astonishment, Kim asked, "Where are you going, Mommy? I want to go by myself; you have shown me the way!"

Having spent three years of high school in Dover, NH, Kim was forced to move at the start of her senior year. Her dad had accepted the position of high school principal in Wrentham, MA and it was imperative that the family move. Hard as this was for her to leave friends and acquaintances, she never once complained. She made the best of a difficult situation, often contending with verbal abuse because she was "unfortunate" enough to be the principal's daughter, and she graduated high in her class and a member of the National Honor Society. Kim's academic record would have made her a shoo-in for a good college or university. However, for her own reasons (and possibly out of consideration for her family's limited finances), Kim decided to enlist in the United States Air Force. Having completed training in aircraft air-conditioning and refrigeration, she volunteered for and was assigned to Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines. She later completed her four year tour of duty in North Carolina with a short stint on the island of Guam.

Again asserting her independence, she studied the job market and decided that a career in accounting could prove profitable. She enrolled at the University of Southeastern MA at Dartmouth and through the GI Bill, part-time jobs, participation in the Air Force Reserve, and a carefully managed (though meager) budget, she graduated with honors in June, 1984. It was at this university that Kim met Ed Smith, and their lives were from thereon entwined.

Kim was accepted by a government accounting agency in Seattle, WA. She and Ed left for the West Coast almost immediately after graduation. In fact, that was the last time her parents ever saw her. Though from time to time they did receive letters and phone calls keeping them abreast of her success in her new job and of her plans to return home in the summer of '85 to be married to Ed in the presence of their families.


Saturday, March 9, 1985, Kim and Ed left Seattle in their new car, motored east through the Cascades and, ultimately, crossed the Columbia River into Washington State's Grant County.

On the morning of March 10, Ed's body, throat cut, was found in a gravel pit in Beverly, not far from the Wanapum Dam, though he was not accurately identified for several days. When Kim and Ed, uncharacteristically, did not report to work on March 11, their employers notified authorities at the Kings County Sheriff's Department and a "limited" search effort was undertaken.

Fourteen days later, their car was found at an overlook high above the Columbia, and the connection was finally made to the missing pair. No trace of Kim was found during a short, inadequate search by Grant County authorities, and political efforts to involved the Air National Guard (Kim was a member) were fruitless.

In August, 1985, Kim's remains were found, purely by chance, in the sage brush not far from the spot where Ed was murdered. Four years later, Billy Ray Ballard, an inmate at the Wyoming State Penitentiary, was identified as the probable murderer by a single finger print he left on the car. Following a long hard struggle with the prosecutors in Grant County, Ballard was finally extradited to Washington State. To save himself from the death penalty, he pled guilty to both murders and was, in the presence of the Smith and LaVine families, summarily sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

back to 20

Kimberly La Vine