An Education Service Compiled
& Presented By
Bonnie M. Wells
Domestic Violence, Child Abuse, Rape, Murder, Serial Offenders, Abuse of power & authority, and various crimes:
Suspected Serial Killer - Pennsylvania:
By Renee Winkler / Courier-Post Staff / Camden:
An auto mechanic once identified by law enforcement as a suspected serial killer of prostitutes, pleaded guilty Tuesday to a local slaying.
James Gunning, 31, of Huntingdon Valley, Pa., already sentenced for a sexual assault in Mercer County, admitted strangling a Camden woman during a sexual encounter on Dec. 23, 1997.``During the course of the evening I put a rope over her neck and strangled her," Gunning told Superior Court Judge Irvin Snyder.
"I thought she was unconscious. I didn't know she was dead.'' He pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter.
The body of Dawn McCary, 24, who lived in the 200 block of Filmore Street, was found lying on Viola Street. She last had been seen getting into a car on Broadway, an area that at the time was frequented by prostitutes.
Investigators believe once Gunning knew the woman was dead, he pushed her from his car. A plea agreement between Assistant Camden County Prosecutor James Conley and defense attorney Ralph Kramer includes dismissal of other charges involving sexual assaults in 1997 on women believed to be prostitutes. Those charges included a sexual assault and an attempted murder.
In those cases, women told police they were bound around the neck. Tuesday's plea agreement recommends a 17-year term in state prison for Gunning. Although he would have to serve almost 14 1/2 years of the sentence before parole eligibility, it would run concurrently with a 15-year term he is serving for a Mercer County rape. When Gunning was arrested in 1999, law enforcement officials reported the women were strangled with a ligature of some sort during sex. Gunning was arrested in May 1999 in Hamilton Township, Mercer County, when two police officers pulled up to his sport utility vehicle and a 21- year-old woman ran from the car, yelling, ``He's trying to kill me. He's trying to strangle me!''
The woman had rope burns on her neck and a cord and pornographic magazines were found inside his SUV. If Gunning had gone to trial in Camden County, prosecutors planned to present evidence to the same jury of the killing, the attempted murder and the sexual assault of separate victims.
Snyder set a March 7 sentencing hearing for Gunning and granted a request that he be returned to the Mercer County Jail.
Reach Renee Winkler at (856) 486-2455:
By John McMillan
Body found on levee near Oak Alley. St. James sheriff says serial killer task force notified:
Vacherie: -- A tourist stumbled across the body of a woman on the river side of the Mississippi River levee across from Oak Alley Plantation late Monday afternoon, St. James Parish Sheriff Willy Martin said. The fully clothed body was that of an unidentified white woman who apparently was recently slain, the sheriff said. An out-of-state tourist walking along a tree line spotted the body, the sheriff said.
Investigators did not make public the name of the individual who discovered the body. Martin said paddle-wheel excursion boats often stop in the vicinity of the spot where the body was found to allow tourists to visit Oak Alley Plantation. There were a number of tourists in the area Sunday, but there is no indication the woman's body was in the vicinity of the steamboat landing at that time, Martin said. Martin also said the body is not that of Mari Ann Fowler, 65, of Baton Rouge, missing since her apparent abduction Christmas Eve from a strip mall parking lot near Port Allen.
The sheriff said he feels the body discovered Monday was dumped on the river bank no more than a day after she was killed.
He said there was no indication the victim was slain at the site where her body was found.
Martin said he has been in contact with authorities in West Baton Rouge Parish investigating the disappearance of Fowler.
He also spoke with a representative of the serial killer task force formed to investigate slayings of four women in the Baton Rouge and Lafayette areas.
State Police Crime Lab experts were called in to investigate the site where the woman's body was discovered, Martin said.
An autopsy is scheduled to be performed on the body at Earl K. Long Medical Center in Baton Rouge, the sheriff said.
Martin declined to state a cause of death, pending results of the autopsy.
Cold Case Squad
By Melissa Manware / Staff Writer
Police consider renewed focus on unsolved killings. Detectives might be assigned to some cases Charlotte-Mecklenburg police may dedicate homicide detectives to investigate some of its more than 360 old, unsolved murders. Deputy Chief Bob Schurmeier said the department is "evaluating the possibility" of assigning a small number of detectives to work on homicides that are not being actively investigated now.
In November, The Observer reported that Charlotte-Mecklenburg police have at least 367 unsolved homicide cases spanning nearly 40 years and relatively few of them have been actively investigated in recent years.
Since then, Charlotte City Council members have asked Police Chief Darrel Stephens to give them information about how Charlotte-Mecklenburg compares with other departments in solving old murders. In at least 22 percent -- more than one in every five homicides reported in Charlotte-Mecklenburg since 1979 -- no arrest has been made. The chief is expected to appear before the council next month. Schurmeier said he doesn't expect the department to decide whether to reassign detectives before then. "You have victims who have died, you have families still in mourning, and in some cases you have assailants walking around who haven't been brought to justice," councilman Patrick Cannon said. "Those reasons alone warrant having a detective placed back on these cold cases."
Homicide detectives have lobbied for a "cold case squad," a team of investigators assigned to working old, unsolved murders. They say they could close many of the department's open murder cases, if they had time to read case files, reinterview witnesses and test DNA evidence that's been sitting untouched for years. But the detectives say their workload doesn't allow it. Stephens has said he doesn't think it makes sense to dedicate detectives to working decades-old killings they have little chance of solving. He believes the department's resources are better spent preventing crime. If the department assigns homicide detectives to old cases, Schurmeier said, they would likely focus on the most-recent old cases first. "As long as I know it's not shelved and forgotten forever," said Jackie Hoffman, whose brother David Willis was slain at a rest area on Interstate 85 in February 1974. "That's fantastic. I'm so glad they are going to give those old cases some attention."
Schurmeier would not say how many detectives would work on the old homicides. He also would not say whether the department would hire more homicide detectives or reassign some investigators already working murders. The homicide unit consists of 22 detectives, but three of the spots are not filled and two detectives investigate mostly serious assaults. The remaining detectives are currently responsible for investigating all homicides (current and old), suicides, accidental deaths, stalkings, kidnappings, officer-involved shootings and major investigations of city-employee conduct. The workload, they say, makes it nearly impossible to focus on an old case unless new evidence lands in their lap. Since 1996, the detectives have solved 77 homicides after the year they occurred. Police in Los Angeles; Houston; Fort Worth, Texas; Nashville, Tenn.; San Antonio; Baltimore; and Richmond, Va., have squads dedicated to old murder cases. Charlotte-Mecklenburg has had a cold case squad in the past. A team formed in 1994 reported solving 40 cases in less than two years. Members were pulled back into newer cases because of attrition and workload.
Cold Case - Ohio
Cold-case team reheats trail of 1957 city murder.
By Robin Erb / Blade Staff Writer
Nothing, police will tell you, is more difficult than solving a decades-old crime.
But experiencing some success over the years, Lucas County's cold-case detectives are at it again - this time reaching back through time further than ever to try to catch a killer.
The strangulation of Anna Louise LaTour, a mother of four, in 1957 may be the oldest case the squad will ever review. Chances of solving it are slim.
But Tom Ross, who retrieved from police archives the fat investigative file on the Aug. 2, 1957, murder of the Toledo waitress, is hoping against the odds.
"As far as solving it based on genetic material, that chance is zero," said the retired Toledo police detective, who now heads the cold-case office, which has solved 16 other old murders, including at least two from the 1970s.
Most of Mrs. LaTour's friends and acquaintances have disappeared or died. Crime scene technology then was rudimentary. And the blue dress she wore that night - one that most likely held DNA from her killer - has been destroyed.
Still, if the killer was about Mrs. LaTour's age at the time of the killing - 32 - he may still be alive. Maybe someone knew something but was too afraid to come forward at the time, reasons Lucas County prosecutor Julia Bates.
"Sure, you can say 'Maybe we can't solve it' and 'Probably we can't solve it,'" Ms. Bates said. "But how do we know if we don't try?"
Barbara Young realizes the evidentiary challenges to solve the murder, let alone prosecute it.
Now 59 and living on the West Coast, Ms. Young was Mrs. LaTour's younger sister. She saw Mr. Ross on an ABC-TV 20/20 episode recently about the county's cold-case squad.
"It made me think someone still cares," Ms. Young said. She said she was able to persuade Mr. Ross to reopen the case that years ago had been shelved.
The two thick file folders unfold into a 1950s whodunit, with maps of the dead woman's route home, a chart of who was sitting on which barstools that night, and meticulous interview notes with virtually everyone in the neighborhood the night of the murder.
"The police did a nice job at the time," said Cliff Quinn, The Blade's police beat reporter then who later became Toledo safety director. "But there were so many suspects in that case."
There was her husband, Otis, who, police said, knew of her infidelities, and two lovers who tried to find her that night. There was a bartender who provided her with her favorite vodka drinks. There was a friend's boyfriend, a man who "was forever quoting prose and flowery speeches about sex and love and hate," but who also had a "vile temper," police learned.
There were two teen delinquents who'd escaped the night before from lock-up and took up shelter in an abandoned house nearby.
There was a Bible-toting neighbor, a crazed drifter, two men who tried to buy her drinks that night, and a local peeping Tom who accosted another woman nearby just hours earlier. And, of course, the usual collection of drunks and parolees.
Most were hooked up to a polygraph and, one by one, they were eliminated as suspects. Police confirmed Otis LaTour's story: He was in Cleveland working the night his wife died.
"The police knew [everyone] that moved that night, except one," Mr. Ross said. "A young woman walked into an alley and died."
New Details On Case Against Former Medical Examiner Harlan:
NewsChannel 5 has exclusive new details the high profile case against a former state medical examiner.
Dr. Charles Harlan is charged with dozens of cases of misconduct involving autopsies. He says he did nothing wrong. But, the state tells NewsChannel 5 that Dr. Harlan has already admitted to several facts in connection with the case.
One year ago the state filed charges against Harlan, alleging everything from mishandling bodies to obstructing justice. Some of the allegations were sensational , like a dog eating body parts.
Harlan said of that allegation, "Tell me why it could never happen? I don't have dogs there. I had a staff member who had a guard dog -- but he was confined to the bay part of the facility."
The state dropped the charge involving the dog -- but dozens of others remain. To date, Dr. Harlan and his attorney Dan Warlick have denied any wrongdoing. But, NewsChannel 5 has obtained legal documents where Dr. Harlan actually admits to several facts in the case against him.
Diane Denton of the Department of Health says that many of the admissions could be viewed as violations by the Medical Board. She concedes some are minor like an honest mixing up toxicology reports, but others raise eyebrows. "For example, when asked to verify when a woman was dead, Dr. Harlan admits he wrote, 'She's green and has maggots on her.' I think it difficult to argue that doesn't constituted unprofessional conduct," said Denton.
Dan Warlick, Harlan's attorney, says there's a simple explanation for each of the admissions and Dr. Harlan will make a strong case to the Medical Board.
Warlick said of the admissions, "We admit to what we have to admit to. Dr. Harlan is honest. We tell the truth. The question is, given those facts, what do they mean?" Warlick would argue that they don't mean much. He says the admissions on minor facts in no way amount to an admission of the charges against Harlan and that there's no reason to revoke his medical license.
State officials disagree and think these admissions will help make their case against Harlan.
The case will go to hearing on May 20th. If the Board of Medical Examiners finds him guilty of the charges, it could raise new questions about literally hundreds of autopsies and past criminal cases where Harlan testified.
New Developments - Louisiana Killer
January, 2003: Baton Rouge, Louisiana (CNN) --
By: CNN's Miles O'Brien:
Investigators in Louisiana released a sketch and announced a 'substantial development' in a baffling serial killer case:
The task force hunting the south Louisiana serial killer Thursday announced "a major development" in the case, releasing pictures of a pair of athletic shoes the killer could have been wearing during one of the homicides. It appealed to members of the public for clues. "We don't think he's going to turn himself in, but we think someone who knows him may provide that call ... identifying who this individual is," said Lafayette Parish Sheriff Mike Neustrom. "I think this is a major development."
A shoe print matching a $40 pair of "Adidas-type" basketball shoes that can be purchased in a number of stores around Lafayette and Baton Rouge was found November 24 "in the immediate vicinity" of where the body of Trineisha Colomb was found, Neustrom said.
"This information is designed to get someone who is an acquaintance, a friend, an ex-wife, a roommate of the individual who was wearing this type of shoe around November 21st, 22nd, 23rd" to notify authorities about their suspicions, Neustrom said.
Four women have been killed in the region over the past 17 months, and authorities have said they have linked the killings through DNA evidence.
A psychiatric profile of the killer describes him as an impulsive, aggressive risk-taker who lives between Lafayette and Baton Rouge, knows the area well, and lives a "fairly normal life."
Colomb, 23, is the most recent known victim. Two days after she was reported missing, a hunter found her body in a wooded area in the southern Louisiana town of Scott, just west of Lafayette, where Colomb lived. That was about 20 miles from where her abandoned car was discovered, in Grand Coteau. The killer has not been found.
"We think someone knows who it is, but is maybe not 100 percent certain. ... We encourage them to call and let us know and, hopefully, prevent any other acts."
The killings began in Baton Rouge in September 2001, when Gina Wilson Green, 41, was found strangled near the Louisiana State University campus. In May, Charlotte Murray Pace, 22, was found stabbed to death in her home, also near the LSU campus, and in July, Pam Kinamore, 44, was abducted and her throat was slit. Kinamore's body was found 30 miles outside Baton Rouge, in the direction of Lafayette.
Last month, authorities said they were searching for a "person of interest" who was spotted in a white pickup truck about 500 feet from where the latest victim was found.
Police have said they are searching for a white early 1990s Chevrolet or GMC pickup truck with a fish sticker on the tailgate, with chrome bumpers. That truck was seen near where Colomb's vehicle was abandoned in Grand Coteau. A truck of similar description was reported where Kinamore's body was found.
A man deemed suspicious was reportedly seen November 21 -- the day before Colomb was reported missing -- in a rural, wooded area of Scott. Neustrom said the man was seated in a white early 1990s pickup, with chrome front and rear bumpers -- about 500 feet from where Colomb's body was found.
The Kansas Serial Killer
By Tony Rizzo / The Kansas City Star
Detectives used pliers to open the seal on the first of two 85-gallon barrels on land that John E. Robinson Sr. owned in Linn County.
The yellow barrel on the left contained Izabela Lewicka's body.
Even for detectives hardened to vile human behavior, it would be a case unlike any other.
They tracked clues from Mexico to Canada, from Florida to California. Along the way they slogged through a snake-infested pond, dug through bags of garbage and listened to a sadomasochistic encounter on the other side of a hotel wall.
Now, freed from a court-imposed gag order, the investigators can talk about how they built the case that brought John E. Robinson Sr. to justice.
The 59-year-old Olathe man, convicted of three murders, last week was sentenced to death. He faces another capital murder trial in Cass County for the deaths of two women and a girl.
The case started with one of the staples of police work -- a missing-person report. It might have stayed routine if not for a mistake.
"It was a fortunate twist of fate," said Overland Park Police Sgt. Joe Reed.
Three times in the 1980s, police in Overland Park investigated the disappearances of young women who had connections to Robinson. The FBI also investigated Robinson, but authorities could never make enough of a link to bring charges. Robinson went to prison for theft in 1987. Memories faded, and files collected dust. Detectives retired. New cases poured in. Then in spring 2000, Dawn Trouten called from Michigan to report her sister as missing. Suzette Trouten had moved to the Kansas City area to work for Robinson. And she was staying at an area hotel when the family last heard from her.
The hotel was in Lenexa, but Dawn Trouten called the police in Overland Park. The officer who took the report did not realize the hotel was in Lenexa. And the name John Robinson meant nothing to him. To the officer's supervisor, who reviewed the report and had investigated Robinson in the 1980s, the name had much more significance. "Flags were waving," Reed said.
Reed, who supervises detectives investigating crimes against persons, said he knew immediately that it could be a huge case.
"I think we all recognized it right up front," Reed said. "We could have a serial killer." Reed immediately called his counterpart in Lenexa, Sgt. Rick Roth. "Boy, have I got a bag of worms for you," he told Roth.
That afternoon Roth sent Detectives Dave Brown and Jack Boyer to meet with Reed and his detectives. Although they suspected it was a big case, none of them imagined just how big it would be. As Paul Morrison reviewed the 1980s reports, as well as Robinson's lengthy record of fraud and theft convictions, two things became apparent. "John Robinson was a major criminal, and he was probably very capable of hurting people," said Morrison, the Johnson County district attorney. The investigation roared forward, Morrison said, "like dropping the flag at the Indianapolis 500."
One of the first steps was an old-fashioned "trashing." Detectives began picking up trash bags that Robinson left at the curb. The first time, officers found that Robinson had run his documents through a shredder. They were discouraged but not dissuaded.
Detectives pieced together the strips of paper, and their work paid an immediate dividend: the address of a storage locker in Raymore, across the state line in Cass County.
Robinson did not shred his papers again, but he did come to suspect that someone was getting into his trash. After one collection officers found a note with a smiling face on it.
"I know what you're doing," it read. "It's illegal, and I'll call the police."
Teams of Lenexa and Overland Park officers began watching his home in Olathe and tracking him wherever he went. They rented older cars and changed them every few days to avoid detection. One Lenexa officer befriended the people living in a house whose back yard provided a good view of Robinson's mobile home. He blended in by sunbathing while doing surveillance. Once he even mowed their lawn. Another team of officers borrowed a city truck and posed as electric workers on a power pole. They were watching one of Robinson's storage lockers when a real power company crew showed up and demanded to know what they were doing. In another incident, officers who were mistaken for trespassers had to calm hostile residents at an apartment complex.
Robinson, the surveillance officers learned, was a creature of habit. During the day, when his wife was at work, Robinson was out and driving about. He did not appear to have a job, but he constantly talked on his cellular phone and frequently met with women. When his wife came home, he was there. He rarely went out in the evening without her. Morrison said Robinson was an "8-to-5 serial killer."
"It became very apparent he had a double life," Morrison said.
Part of that life involved other women -- a lot of other women.
In the two months of surveillance, officers observed Robinson frequently meeting with women. At least three traveled from other states to see Robinson, and several others lived in the Kansas City area. Those dalliances were a big concern for investigators. They did not want to jeopardize the investigation by revealing themselves too soon. But they also did not want anybody to get hurt.
"When he had women in town, we were always on pins and needles," said Brown, the Lenexa detective. Only a few days into the surveillance, detectives learned that Robinson owned a rural tract in Linn County, Kan., about an hour south of the Kansas City area. The day after officers first followed him there, Lenexa Detective Dawn Layman went back and took photographs. She was alone. There was a mobile home on the property, its windows covered with paper.
"It was a little spooky," Layman said. "I wanted to get in and get out as quick as possible." Investigators agreed they would not allow Robinson to take a woman to the Linn County property. About two weeks into the investigation, Robinson uncharacteristically left home late at night and headed south in his pickup at high speed. Detectives saw that a woman was with him. He was halfway to Oklahoma before following officers could arrange for local police to pull him over. The woman turned out to be his wife.
The investigators received invaluable help from two Canadian women, friends of Suzette Trouten, who traded e-mail messages with Robinson. Those contacts brought a new twist to the case for detectives. Like Robinson and Suzette Trouten, the Canadian women shared an interest in the sexual lifestyle of bondage, discipline and sadomasochism, or BDSM. Some of the practices and terminology left detectives without a clue. "There were things most of us had never seen," Reed said.
The Canadian women and Trouten's mother, Carolyn Trouten, kept in contact with Robinson throughout the investigation and passed along to police what he told them. E-mail messages they received, purportedly from Suzette Trouten, were actually coming from Robinson, detectives determined. They also began amassing stacks of Robinson's financial records through court subpoenas. Bank and credit-card statements and telephone records came in by the boxful. A credit-card payment Robinson made on March 1, 2000, led to another break.
Suzette Trouten's mother had told police that her daughter never went anywhere without her two Pekingese dogs, Peka and Harry. "If you find those dogs and she's not with them, something is seriously wrong," Brown said the mother told him. Armed with Robinson's credit-card number, detectives found that Robinson had boarded Trouten's dogs at an Olathe animal clinic and had checked them out March 1. That same day, an Olathe animal-control officer picked up two stray Pekingese in the mobile home community where Robinson lived. The officer took the dogs to an animal shelter, and eventually the dogs were adopted. Investigators tracked down the people who adopted them. "That cemented it for us," Roth said.
As they tracked his communications, officers were amazed by the phony stories Robinson told his many girlfriends about his friends "Bill and Hill" Clinton and his CIA exploits.
"I couldn't believe the imagination this guy had," said Overland Park Detective Greg Wilson. "I don't know how you could say some of that stuff with a straight face."
Investigators could see the chasm that existed between Robinson's fantasy world and reality. In one pager message to a paramour, Robinson said he was jetting over an exotic locale in a Navy jet on one of his international business adventures. The next message the police recorded was to Robinson from his wife -- telling him of a possible job he could get as a water-meter reader.
Throughout April and May 2000, detectives continued to read Robinson's letters and e-mail messages and track his phone calls. With access to his credit-card purchases, they could tell when he planned to bring a woman into the area.
Over Easter weekend, detectives secured the hotel room next to the room Robinson had rented for one of his visitors. They also had a pinhole camera installed in a door across the hall. Lenexa Detectives Mike Lowther and Perry Meyer could hear blows being struck and screams from the adjoining room. Was it a "normal" BDSM encounter, or was the woman in real danger? At one point the detectives thought they heard the woman barking. Lowther crept into the hallway to listen more closely. The door handle of Robinson's room began to rattle. The detective barely got to his door down the hall before Robinson came out.
"He walked by me and never even looked up," Lowther said.
About a month later that woman filed a police report about her encounter with Robinson, accusing him of stealing a bag of sex toys. The barking turned out to be her dog. About the same time, a second woman called police from the same Lenexa hotel and accused Robinson of assaulting her. By the end of May prosecutors thought they had gathered enough information to get search warrants for Robinson's house, the Linn County property and several rented storage units. By then they also had tapped Robinson's phone and were concerned by his plans to have another woman move to the Kansas City area with her small child. He also was trying to persuade a homeless teen-ager to become his mistress and move into a trailer on his Linn County property.
On June 2, 2000, Wilson, from Overland Park, and Boyer, from Lenexa, knocked on Robinson's door in his Olathe mobile home park. They had arrest warrants charging him with assault on the two women. Inside the home, Wilson said, he was struck by all the pictures of Robinson's grandchildren and other relatives. For Wilson, the photos were evidence of Robinson's dual nature. Robinson seemed arrogant and self-assured when talking to the detectives about the two women he allegedly had assaulted. But when they mentioned Trouten and Lisa Stasi -- a missing woman linked to him 15 years earlier -- Robinson took off his glasses, looked at Wilson and said, "Jesus Christ." "You could see the color drain out of his face," Wilson said. "You could see him go from arrogant to kind of crumbling in his chair."
The detectives handcuffed Robinson and led him outside as other officers began arriving to search the home. Wilson said Robinson's arrogant air returned.
"Do you think this is a big enough production?" he asked.
At the Lenexa Police Department, officers arranged a surprise for Robinson. They led him into a conference room. Trouten's photograph hung on one wall. There was a map with directions to his Linn County property on another wall. Pictures taken during surveillance also were displayed. "I think...it hit him," Wilson said. "He was just really quiet."
The searches of Robinson's house and storage locker that day turned up what several detectives referred to as a "gold mine" of evidence linking him to Trouten and other women.
"We couldn't believe we had so much stuff," Roth said.
The next day, search teams descended on Robinson's 16 acres in Linn County.
Dogs trained to find cadavers fanned out. Divers dipped into a pond. A backhoe probed the ground.
Roth said his initial optimism that they would find a burial site faded as the hours wore on. Searchers remained glum until early afternoon, when a handler reported that one of the dogs "showed an interest" in a cluttered area near a storage shed. There were two yellow, metal barrels and some other rubbish. Roth rolled one of the barrels away from the shed. When he set it upright, he noticed a bead of crimson liquid seeping from the sealed lid. Some thought it looked like blood. One officer suggested it might be transmission fluid. Then a large fly landed on the spot. "We knew it wasn't transmission fluid," Roth said.
The barrels contained the bodies of Suzette Trouten and Izabela Lewicka.
Finding one body they expected and one they did not brought a mixture of satisfaction and somber grimness.
"Once we found the second one," said Overland Park Detective Bobbi Jo Hohnholt, "we knew there were going to be more."
Detectives would spend the next week scouring the chigger-infested property. Occasional gunshots rang out as divers fended off snakes. Nothing of substance was found, but across the state line, officers searched a storage locker in Raymore -- the one that detectives learned about by piecing together a shredded document -- and found three more bodies in barrels.
The investigation team was beefed up to 34 officers from various law enforcement agencies that sought to identify the victims and their relationships with Robinson.
Five days after the discovery of the first bodies, an anonymous telephone call led police to a Midwest city and the teen-age daughter of Robinson's brother. John Robinson had brokered her adoption as an infant in 1985, investigators learned, at the time Stasi, a young Kansas City mother, and her baby had disappeared. Footprints would confirm that she was the daughter of Stasi. It was the last bit of evidence needed to charge Robinson with Stasi's murder.
The investigation would continue right up to the beginning of Robinson's trial on Sept. 16, 2002. Detectives looked at several other people as potential suspects or accomplices, but every lead came back to Robinson, Roth said. For Morrison and Sara Welch, an assistant district attorney, the biggest challenge was paring the information to a manageable amount. Morrison estimates that jurors heard only one-third to one-half of what was actually uncovered.
One thing jurors never saw occurred in a courthouse hallway. Defense attorneys had been saying how hard it would be for one person to move the heavy barrels. The 200-pound Morrison climbed into one of the 85-gallon containers. His administrative assistant, Terri Issa, had no problem rolling it around.
Many of the detectives who worked on the case were in the courtroom Tuesday when Robinson was sentenced to die. Of the hundreds of people whom detectives interviewed in the case, virtually no one had anything good to say about Robinson.
"They'd say he put the moves on their wives or daughters or stole money from them," Roth said.
Wilson, the Overland Park detective, mirrored what many other officers said of Robinson: "I don't know if he ever told the truth to anybody about anything."
One man who was not surprised by all the twists and turns in the case was Steve Haymes. A probation officer in Missouri, Haymes had more than 20 years of experience with Robinson's schemes and crimes. At the start of the Trouten investigation, detectives went to Haymes' office to ask about Robinson. The probation officer pulled out a file and handed it to them. "I knew somebody would be coming for this," he said.
E-Mail addresses for several Yahoo crime groups
Jen's Memory - Jennifer Short
Serial Killers 101
One Missing Person
This page originally posted: 28 January 2003 / BMW
Revised: January 2008 // BMW