Left: Rima circa, 1985
Right: Age Progressed to age 34
Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance
Missing Since: May 15, 1985
Missing From: Longview, Cowlitz County, Washington
Classification: Non-Family Abduction
Date Of Birth: November 9, 1976
Age: 8 years old
Height and Weight: 4’3″ and 45 pounds
Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian Female, Blonde hair, Blue eyes, both of Rima’s ears are pierced, she has a light colored mark across her right shoulder blade, she has a half inch scar under her chin
Clothing/Jewelry Description: A knee length coat with a belt, a pink shirt, a tan plaid skirt, a pair of white tights, dark brown clogs, Rima was wearing a rainbow colored hair barrette at the time of her 1985 abduction
NCMEC Number: 601923
Details of Disappearance
Rima was last seen in Longview, Washington on May 15th 1985. She was walking back to her residence from St. Helens Elementary School at the time of her disappearance. On her way home, Rima stopped by a neighbors home to show them an art project she made at school and continues walking. She was last seen at 27th Avenue and Beech Street. This was just two blocks away from her family’s residence at the time.
Rima never arrived home and was never seen or heard from again. Her mother, Danielle, reported her missing when she never arrived home. Investigators believe Rima was likely abducted by a non family member while she was walking home. Investigators initially believed that her stepfather, Kenneth Traxler, was involved in her disappearance.
Kenneth did give investigators an alibi for the time that Rima disappeared but investigators didn’t trust it. He told investigators that he was driving around with a local woman until he ran low on gas and returned home to find the police waiting for him. He also failed two lie detector tests in the case. Kenneth said this is likely due to him being nervous at the time. Kenneth maintained his innocence in his stepdaughters case.
He theorized that Rima had been abducted by someone who knew the special password that Danielle and he ingrained into her head since early childhood. She was well trained to not go with a stranger who couldn’t give her the password “Unicorn.”
In 1988, investigators announced that they believed Rima was deceased and felt they were extremely close to uncovering her fate. They additionally stated the investigation turned up two persons of interest in the case and that both of them were likely involved in Rima’s presumed death. They also stated the two suspects had different personalities. They said one of the suspects was strong and the other was weak. They felt the more dominant person suspected was threatening the weaker one into being quiet and controlling them.
They said the dominant person would not feel the remorse and guilt that the weaker person would feel in the case. Investigators continued to put their focus on Kenneth and another person of interest. Kenneth revealed to the media in 1992 that the second person of interest was male a friend who lived at the time was living in Kelso. He said that friend was with him during a portion of the day that Rima disappeared on.
He told the media that police suspected both he and his friend abducted Rima and possibly killed her on the same day she disappeared on. Kenneth said that investigators felt he was being tight lipped about the case because his friend had threatened to kill him if he revealed what they had done to Rima. Kenneth said the police suspected his motive for harming Rima was to retaliate against her mother. The couple had broken up several weeks before the child went missing.
The detective in 1992 said they had sufficient evidence in her disappearance but not enough to make an arrest. ￼A family acquaintance, Joseph Robert Kondro, was formally identified as being the second person of interest in the case in 1996. He was once close friends with Kenneth and was known to have been drinking with him on the day that the child was presumably abducted. Their friendship was destroyed by the investigation in 1985.
Investigators named Kondro as a suspect in the disappearance of 12 year old Kara Rudd in 1996. Kara was last seen on November 21st 1996 at Monticello Middle School in Longview. She was seen walking away from Kondro’s gold colored 1982 Pontiac Firebird. He was later arrested on suspicion of tampering with a witness in relation to Kara’s disappearance. He has a criminal record for child molestation.
According to reports, Kara never attended classes at her school that day. Her mother, Janet LaPray, reported her as missing at 5:00 pm that day when she didn’t return home. Kondro previously lived with the family and had driven Kara to school in the past according to her friends. She and her sister even referred to him as “uncle Joe.”
One day in the fall of 1996, Kondro allegedly took Kara and a friend of hers to an abandoned house on the banks of the Columbia River. He later said he planned to kill both Kara and her friend and had even picked out the spot where he would place their bodies afterwards.
Kondro met Kara and her friend near their school while he was on his way to drop off a job application. He stopped and spoke to both girls and agreed to help Kara skip class that day. He came by the school later and Kara got into his car. Several people reported seeing her do this. Kondro took Kara to the abandoned house where he raped, beat, and strangled her to death.
He put Kara’s body in his car and drove to an area off a logging road on Mount Solo. He placed Kara’s remains underneath the old shell of an abandoned Volkswagen he found in a deep ravine. When Kara was reported missing, the search began immediately and investigators spoke to Kara’s friend and she told them about Kondro.
He was questioned by investigators and they also searched his home and car. They found no physical evidence linking him to Kara’s disappearance at the time. They did notice he appeared to have lacerations on his skin that he was unable to explain after Kara’s disappearance. They appeared to have flakes of nail polish or something related to it. This could’ve gotten on him while he was struggling with Kara, who had long nails when she disappeared.
Kara remained missing for six weeks until her body was recovered. Detective Scott McDaniel decided to investigate the Mount Solo area near the Columbia River after it was reported that Kondro was known to hang out in that area. They eventually found the old Volkswagen shell which contained what was left of her body.
The shell acted as a “refrigerator” on the remains and preserved the evidence that Kondro left behind on Kara’s body. Investigators were able to match a semen sample to Kondro. He was charged with Kara’s sexual assault and murder and confessed to the crime. He was convicted and originally sentenced to death for the horrific crime.
In December of 1997, investigators also searched the Mount Solo area for Rima’s remains. They found no evidence she was there but by this time, they believed Kondro was involved in her disappearance which remained unsolved for over a decade. In 1999, he accepted a deal in which he would avoid the death penalty. He would have to confess to his involvement in Rima’s disappearance.
He told investigators that he was driving to the store for beer when he saw Rima walking on the sidewalk as she walled back home. Since he was close friends with her parents, Rima trusted him like family and jumped right into his car. He also used the password “Unicorn” which he learned from Kenneth prior to her abduction.
Kondro stated he drove Rima to a remote swimming hole on Germany Creek west of Longview. There, he raped, bludgeoned, and strangled Traxler to death. He then buried her body behind a tree and under some debris. Danielle actually went straight to him after Rima didn’t return home and asked for his help. She actually used his phone to file the missing children’s report on Rima.
In exchange for his confession, Kondro was sentenced to a 55 year prison term. Investigators searched the area that he said Rima was buried in but found no trace of her. Kondro is also a suspect in the 1982 abduction and murder of Chila Silvernails. She disappeared on Kalama, Washington while walking to catch the school bus. Her nude body was found a day after her abduction. She had been raped and strangled.
Some agencies have stated that Kondro previously dated Chila’s mother prior to her abduction and murder. Her sister has come forward and stated that this is untrue and that their mother didn’t even know him at the time. Investigators still suspect him of involvement and believe he likely had more victims due to the 11 year gap between Rima’s disappearance and Kara’s murder.
Kondro is considered one of the most sociopathic serial killers in United States history. He himself even said he was shocked someone such as himself even got a deal for the death penalty. Kondro died in prison from natural causes in 2012.
Rima’s disappearance impacted her community in various ways and she was missed by so many people. She was one of the first missing children to be featured on the milk cartons in the mid-1980s. Her mother continues to hope her daughter is possibly alive and she is reluctant to believe Kondro killed Rima. There have been sightings of her reported in New York. Her case remains unsolved and foul play is suspected.
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Longview Police Department 360-577-3157