Details of Disappearance Khristine was last seen on September 28, 1994 in Portage, Michigan. Her husband, Russell Smith, told everyone she had left voluntarily with another man. A photograph of Russell is posted with this case summary. He showed people a note of explanation which he claimed she had written. Khristine's loved ones did not believe him, however; they did not think she would have abandoned her seven-year-old daughter.
At first police thought Khristine had in fact left Russell, but they began to suspect foul play after Russell refused to let them search his home or speak to his daughter alone. In late 1994, authorities got a warrant to search the Smith residence. They discovered no physical evidence of murder, but they did find items that led them to charge Russell with embezzlement from his employer.
Russell and Khristine's daughter was removed from their home at this time when evidence surfaced that Russell may have been molesting her. He was never charged in connection with the alleged abuse, but his daughter was adopted by his parents and never lived with him again. The girl told police that her parents had argued on the day of Khristine's disappearance and she found blood in the upstairs bathroom, which Russell remodeled later that year.
Russell pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in connection to Khristine's case in 1998. He confessed that after they put their child on the school bus, they began to argue and Khristine threatened to leave with their daughter.
Russell stated he shot Khristine to death, put her body in a storage barrel, and threw the barrel in Lake Erie, which is about nine miles from their residence. He maintained that he was driven to kill her by her selfishness, meanness, and frequent affairs with other men. (Investigators could find no evidence that Khristine had ever been unfaithful with anyone during her marriage.)
Russell agreed to help detectives find her body, but searches of the lake turned up nothing. He was sentenced to 35 to 70 years in prison for his wife's murder.
Khristine's remains have never been found.
- Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Department
Updated 4 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated January 27, 2017; place of disappearance corrected, height and weight added, distinguishing characteristics updated.