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KS LISA STASI: Missing from Overland Park, KS - 9 January 1985 - Age 19, victim of John Robinson

Discussion in 'Missing 1980 to 1989' started by Akoya, Mar 16, 2018.

  1. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member


    Serial murder suspect John Edward Robinson Sr. was the last person seen with Lisa Stasi and her five-month-old daughter, Tiffany Stasi.

    Lisa have been missing since 1985. She disappeared in January 1985 after Robinson reportedly helped the single mother move out of an area domestic violence shelter and gave her a job working for him. For a few months after her disappearance, the FBI probed allegations that Stasi had been taken across state lines for purposes of prostitution and information that her daughter Tiffany had been sold.

    Stasi's family later received typewritten letters over her signature that said she was leaving Overland Park, Kansas with Tiffany and no longer wanted to be in touch with them. One of Stasi's relatives told a detective at the time that she was suspicious because Stasi could not type and the words did not sound like hers. The last known whereabouts of Stasi was an Olathe motel room where Robinson had arranged for them to stay three days before she was last seen. After she was reported missing, Robinson told authorities that he had found a letter from Stasi stating that she and the baby had gone to Denver.

    Robinson is also suspected in the disappearances of Paula Godfrey andKatherine Clampitt.
    Tiffany Stasi was found safe in 2000.

    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 20, 2018
  2. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member


    NamUs MP # 13071
    Lisa Stasi
    Johnson County, Kansas
    19 year old white female

    Case Report - NamUs MP # 13071

    Case Information
    Status Missing
    First name Lisa
    Middle name A
    Last name Stasi
    Date last seen January 09, 1985 00:00
    Date entered 11/28/2011
    Age last seen 19 to 19 years old
    Age now 52 years old
    Race White
    Sex Female
    Height (inches) 71.0
    Weight (pounds) 110.0 to 115.0

    City Overland Park
    State Kansas
    Zip code
    County Johnson

    Hair color Sandy

    Left eye color Blue
    Right eye color Blue

    Pierced ears

    Clothing and accessories are unknown

    Status: Dental information / charting is currently not available

    Status: Sample submitted - Tests complete

    Fingerprint Information
    Status: Fingerprint information is currently not available

    Investigating Agency
    Title Det
    First name Kathleen
    Last name Wedel
    Phone 913-344-8764
    Website http://www.opkansas.org/City-Government/Police-Department
    Case number 852362
    Date reported October 04, 1985
    Jurisdiction Local
    Agency Overland Park Police Department
    Address 1 12400 Foster Street
    Address 2
    City Overland Park
    State Kansas
    Zip code 66213
  3. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member

  4. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member

    Tiffani Stasi

  5. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member

  6. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member


    The Doe Network:
    Case File 437DFKS


    Lisa Stasi
    Missing since January 9, 1985 from Overland Park, Johnson County, Kansas.
    Classification: Endangered Missing

    Vital Statistics
      • Date Of Birth: April 11, 1965
      • Age at Time of Disappearance: 19 years old
      • Height and Weight at Time of Disappearance: 5'11"; 115 lbs.
      • Distinguishing Characteristics: White female. Blue eyes; brown hair.
      • Marks, Scars: Lisa's ears are pierced.
      • AKA: Lisa Elledge
    Circumstances of Disappearance
    Serial murder suspect John Edward Robinson Sr. was the last person seen with Lisa Stasi and her five-month-old daughter, Tiffany Stasi.

    Lisa have been missing since 1985. She disappeared in January 1985 after Robinson reportedly helped the single mother move out of an area domestic violence shelter and gave her a job working for him. For a few months after her disappearance, the FBI probed allegations that Stasi had been taken across state lines for purposes of prostitution and information that her daughter Tiffany had been sold.

    Stasi's family later received typewritten letters over her signature that said she was leaving Overland Park, Kansas with Tiffany and no longer wanted to be in touch with them. One of Stasi's relatives told a detective at the time that she was suspicious because Stasi could not type and the words did not sound like hers. The last known whereabouts of Stasi was an Olathe motel room where Robinson had arranged for them to stay three days before she was last seen. After she was reported missing, Robinson told authorities that he had found a letter from Stasi stating that she and the baby had gone to Denver.

    Robinson is also suspected in the disappearances of Paula Godfrey andKatherine Clampitt.
    Tiffany Stasi was found safe in 2000.

    If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
    Missing Persons Joint Task Force

    NCIC Number:
    Please refer to this number when contacting any agency with information regarding this case.

    Source Information:
    National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
    ABC News
    Lenexa Police Department
  7. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member

  8. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member

  9. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member

  10. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member

  11. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member


    Lisa Stasi
    • [​IMG]
    • [​IMG]
    • [​IMG]
    • [​IMG]
    • [​IMG]
    • [​IMG]
    Lisa, circa 1985; Tiffani Stasi, circa 1985; John Robinson, circa 2000

    • Missing Since 01/09/1985
    • Missing FromOverland Park, Kansas
    • ClassificationEndangered Missing
    • Date of Birth04/11/1965 (52)
    • Age19 years old
    • Height and Weight5'11, 115 pounds
    • Distinguishing Characteristics Caucasian female. Brown hair, blue eyes. Lisa's ears are pierced. Her maiden name is Elledge.
    Details of Disappearance
    Lisa married to Carl Stasi in her hometown of Huntsville, Alabama in August 1984, one month prior to the birth of their daughter, Tiffany Lynn. Carl said that they initially planned to reside in Huntsville, but he did not have insurance and the couple relocated to Kansas City, Kansas area.

    Their marriage was troubled by the end of the year and Carl re-enlisted in the United States military and relocated to Illinois. Lisa and Tiffany moved into Hope House, a shelter for battered women in Kansas City.

    Lisa met John Edward Robinson Sr. during their stay. Photos of Robinson and Tiffany are posted with this case summary. Robinson apparently called himself "John Osborne" when introducing himself.

    Lisa told her family members that she was joining the Kansas City Outreach Program, an organization designed to assist young mothers. Robinson presented the program to Lisa as a way to receive free room and board while studying for her GED.

    Lisa and Tiffany checked into Room 131 at the Rodeway Inn in Overland Park in early January 1985. Lisa told her relatives that "Mr. Osborne" arranged and paid for their new accomodations. Her sister-in-law warned her to approach the situation cautiously.

    Lisa's sister-in-law babysat Tiffany during the evening hours of January 8. Lisa picked up her daughter during the morning of January 10 and said that "Osborne" was looking for her. Lisa called the Rodeway Inn's front desk and left a message for Robinson.

    He arrived at her sister-in-law's house approximately 25 minutes later. Lisa and Tiffany entered Robinson's vehicle and purportedly returned to the motel. Lisa left her yellow Toyota Corolla and the majority of her personal belongings behind.

    Lisa called Carl's mother later during the day. Her mother-in-law said that she was hysterical during the conversation. Lisa said that unidentified individuals told her that her mother-in-law was attempting to gain custody of Tiffany by claiming Lisa was an unfit parent. Carl's mother reassured Lisa that the story was false.

    Lisa said that someone wanted her to sign four blank sheets of paper. Her mother-in-law instructed her not to sign anything without receiving guidance. Lisa eventually calmed down and said "Here they come" before terminating the conversation. She has never been heard from again.

    Lisa's sister-in-law learned that she and Tiffany checked out of the motel later on January 10. She reported their disappearances to authorities on January 11. Her sister-in-law determined that "Mr. Robinson" paid for Lisa and Tiffany's motel room with a company credit card from Equi II, a management consulting firm.

    The company name led investigators to Robinson, who owned Equi II and had formed the Kansas City Outreach Program as a charitable extension. Lisa's sister-in-law's husband located the Equi II offices and spoke to Robinson shortly after Lisa and Tiffany vanished. Robinson apparently became angry during the exchange and shoved her brother-in-law out of the building.

    Investigators delved deeper into Robinson's past and learned that he had a criminal record for embezzling from former employers, stealing company supplies and securities fraud. No one in Overland Park, Kansas was aware of Robinson's history at the time.

    Authorities learned that he approached the Truman Medical Center in Kansas in late 1984 regarding the outreach program. Robinson told social workers at the facility that he was associated with Catholic Charities and was aware of similar groups in the area.

    Robinson apparently wanted young mothers to be referred to his organization after their stay in the center. Administrators at the hospital became suspicious of him when he inquired about Caucasian mothers, seeming to favor them over African-Americans. A social worker at the facility knew healthy Caucasian babies garnered higher profits than other races in the black market baby-brokering trade.

    The employee stated that she did not believe Robinson worked with any mothers associated with Truman Medical Center, but Lisa delivered Tiffany at the facility and then moved on to the shelter. Authorities began to suspect that Robinson was using Equi II and his Kansas City Outreach Program as a front for an illegal baby-brokering business after Lisa and Tiffany vanished.

    Robinson approached investigators in March of 1985 and stated that Lisa had recently babysat for a woman he knew in the area. Robinson said that the woman told him Lisa said she no longer wanted any contact with her family, which is why she and Tiffany disappeared.

    When authorities interviewed the woman in question, she stated that Robinson had blackmailed her to tell the story. She said that she never met Lisa and was not familiar with her or Tiffany.

    Robinson changed his version of events later, claiming that Lisa arrived at his office with a man named Bill and planned to move to Colorado to start a new life. The FBI was brought into the case and agents suspected that Robinson was responsible for Lisa and Tiffany's disappearances, but they had little evidence to prove their case.

    Lisa's family and employees at Hope House received typed letters purportedly written by Lisa later in 1985. The notes arrived at the time when the investigation into Robinson was intensifying.

    Authorities believe that the letters' contents were forged by Robinson in an attempt to make it seem that Lisa departed of her own accord. Officials believe that he may have composed the notes himself by using the blank papers Lisa possibly signed prior to her disappearance.

    The letters were similar to notes allegedly written by another missing woman from Overland Park. Paula Godfrey vanished from the area in 1984 after accepting a job from Robinson. Her family members received a letter supposedly written by Godfrey after her disappearance.

    Robinson was eventually convicted of various fraud and theft charges in Kansas in 1987. He suffered a series of strokes by 1990, but his verbal and performance skills remained high. He was released from prison in 1991 and began working in the mobile home industry around that time. He earned a troubled reputation for shady business practices.

    Robinson showed another side of his personality in the mid-1990s when he began using online services to lure women into rough sexual situations. He used the screen name "Slavemaster" and found himself faced with numerous charges of sexual assault by 1999.

    Federal authorities reopened their own investigation into Robinson's pursuits at that time and linked his name to a storage facility in Kansas. They discovered the bodies of five missing women inside the business.

    Robinson was eventually charged with three counts of murder in Kansas, including Lisa's presumed homicide. Authorities believe Robinson murdered Lisa in order to use Tiffany in his baby-brokering schemes. Her remains have never been located.

    Robinson's wife testified at his trial in 2001 regarding Tiffany's whereabouts. She stated that she remembered her husband bringing an infant home to their residence in January 1985. She said the infant was dirty and Robinson did not have adequate supplies to care for her. His wife said that she purchased clothing and infant supplies shortly afterwards.

    The baby was turned over to Robinson's brother and sister-in-law, who were unable to have children. Robinson's brother's family members maintain that they had no idea the child had been kidnapped. She has been raised as Heather Robinson. DNA testing performed in November 2000 determined that Carl Stasi was her biological father.

    Robinson was convicted of Lisa's murder and the murders of two additional women in Kansas in late October 2002. A jury recommended that he receive the death penalty for the other women's homicides, and life in prison for Lisa's murder. He is believed to be responsible for the disappearance of a former employee of Equi II, Catherine Clampitt, in addition to the disappearances of Lisa and Godfrey.

    Lisa's remains have never been located.

    Investigating Agency
    • Overland Park Police Department 913-344-8764
    Source Information
  12. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member


    Tiffany Stasi, child linked to John E. Robinson, may be alive

    June 27, 2000
    Web posted at: 4:22 PM EDT (2022 GMT)

    KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Kansas City Star) -- Tiffany Lynn Stasi, who disappeared 15 years ago as a 4-month-old baby after her mother crossed paths with accused serial killer John E. Robinson Sr., is believed to be alive, The Kansas City Star has learned.

    Police are investigating whether Tiffany is living under another name in a tidy suburban neighborhood in a Midwestern state. Sources knowledgeable of the investigation say she could have been raised by a couple known to Robinson without ever being legally adopted.

    The Kansas City Star contacted the household and was told "no comment" by a woman who came to the door Monday. A lawyer retained by the family would only say they are "cooperating fully with all law enforcement."

    The case presents legal and ethical issues because the teen-age girl, who recently finished her freshman year in public high school, is still a minor.

    Similar discoveries in other parts of the nation have set off tangled custody disputes between the families who raised such children and their relatives by birth.

    The case also could be complicated by the possibility that her biological mother was a victim of foul play and that any adoption appears to have been off the books, according to Missouri records.

    Born at Truman Medical Center, Tiffany is the daughter of Lisa Stasi, a young woman who was told she could begin a new life under an "Outreach" program for young single mothers set up by Robinson in 1985.

    Robinson, whose program turned out to be a fraud, was charged this month with five counts of capital murder after the discovery of barrels containing the remains of women. Those victims appear to have died in recent years.

    But at least three other women, including Lisa Stasi, disappeared in the mid-1980s after becoming involved with Robinson. He faces no charges involving those women.

    The current prosecution has sparked fresh interest in the older missing persons cases and brought new questions about the fate of Tiffany. Authorities and family members are highly reluctant to discuss it, but sources close to the investigation confirmed that family members have been questioned about the possibility that Robinson turned Tiffany over to a childless couple he knew.

    That couple, one source said, was "surprised and terrified" by the developments following Robinson's arrest.

    Carl Stasi, Tiffany's father, said Monday he has had no indication that investigators may have news of his daughter. Kathy Klinginsmith, Lisa Stasi's sister-in-law who lives in Lenexa, also said Monday police had not been in touch with her regarding Tiffany.

    The Robinson connection
    Lisa Stasi was 19 and in a troubled marriage in 1985 when she met Robinson while staying at the Hope House shelter for battered women, according to investigators' reports filed at the time.

    Staffers at social agencies recall that Robinson had frequented hospitals and agencies looking for young women for his Kansas City Outreach Program, sponsored by his Equi-II umbrella consulting company. Background checks by vigilant social workers found that he had falsified aspects of his program.

    A man that police believe was Robinson pledged to train her in Texas as a silkscreen printer, land her an $800-a-month stipend, set her up with baby-sitting and give her an apartment. She was told, investigative reports say, jobs opportunities awaited her later in Chicago, Denver or Kansas City.

    On Jan. 8, 1985, she and her baby were at an Overland Park Rodeway Inn, where a "John Osborne" had checked her in. Her room was paid for with a credit card issued to Equi-II. She checked out two days later, and her family has not heard from her since.

    Klinginsmith reported her missing soon after. Klinginsmith's husband told police he visited the offices of Equi-II, an Overland Park management consulting business owned by Robinson, on Jan. 12, 1985. He said a man pushed him out of the office after he had identified himself as Stasi's relative.

    Later, a man calling himself "Father Martin" with City Union Mission telephoned the brother-in-law to say Stasi and the infant were fine. The man left a telephone number, but it led to a private home. No priests worked at City Union Mission.

    Two days after the brother-in-law's visit, an attorney representing Robinson told police that Stasi had "made arrangements for her self-keeping on her own." Robinson, he said, had not seen the mother or daughter for several days.

    Investigators' reports at the time indicate Robinson produced typewritten farewell notes signed by Stasi and told police she had left for Denver with a man named Bill.

    At that time, Robinson's parole officer in Missouri wondered whether Robinson could be involved in a black market for healthy babies. Court documents indicate that despite the disappearance of Stasi and her daughter, the FBI had no evidence of such a ring.

    Steve Haymes, the parole officer, was aware that Paula Godfrey, a high school graduate from Olathe who apparently worked for the Stanley, Kan., businessman, had dropped out of sight in the summer of 1984. Later, police would learn that Catherine Clampitt also supposedly was working for Robinson's Equi-II before she was reported missing in 1987.

    Carl Stasi is critical of Overland Park police for not investigating the disappearance of the two 15 years ago. He also is angry with Truman Medical Center, where Tiffany was born, because he believes Robinson made contact with Lisa there.

    "I've really just been taking it from day to day," he said. "Nobody's called."

    Stasi said investigators told him they have routinely asked for blood samples from the relatives of the dead and missing women tied to the Robinson case. Those blood samples can form the basis of DNA tests to confirm identities.

    Carl Stasi's attorney, Seth Shumaker, said early this month that he told his client not to give authorities a blood sample until he's told they believe they have found Lisa or Tiffany Stasi.

    "I don't see any reason for putting my client through a blood test if you don't have anybody," Shumaker said. "As soon as you come up with a person or a body that you believe to be Tiffany, then it becomes appropriate."
  13. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member


    Alleged Killer Let People He Knew 'Adopt' Victim's Girl

    Jurisprudence: Accused serial slayer John Robinson faces new charges that he murdered a Kansas woman and set up the phony adoption of her daughter.

    July 29, 2000|From Reuters

    OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — In a bizarre twist to an already gruesome tale of missing and murdered women, police said Friday that a baby girl who disappeared 15 years ago has been raised by acquaintances of a suspected serial killer who allegedly murdered the infant's mother.

    The child, who will turn 16 in September, has been raised by a Midwestern family who did not know anything was amiss when they signed what they thought were adoption papers in 1985, paid what they thought were adoption fees, and took the baby girl from acquaintance John Robinson, a man now charged with murder, said Johnson County Dist. Atty. Paul Morrison.

    "There are victims in this case that have suffered greatly," Morrison said.

    Robinson, 56, a suburban Kansas City man, was charged Friday with the first-degree murder of the child's mother, Lisa Stasi, in January 1985. He also was charged with "aggravated interference with parental custody" for taking 4-month-old Tiffany Stasi out of state and setting up the phony adoption.

    The charges were in addition to five counts of murder and one count of kidnapping filed against Robinson in June after the discovery of five women's beaten bodies inside 55-gallon drums. Two of the drums were found on farmland owned by Robinson and three were found in a storage facility rented to Robinson.

    Authorities identified one of the bodies as that of Sheila Dale Faith, a onetime Fullerton resident. They are still trying to determine if the remaining unidentified body is that of Faith's daughter, Debbie. Faith, who would now be 51, and her daughter, who would be 21, vanished five years ago.

    Prosecutors alleged Robinson used a hammer or similar instrument to beat the women to death. The murders began in the mid-'80s.

    Lisa Stasi's body has not been found.

    Two more women who disappeared after forming relationships with Robinson were believed to be dead, but their bodies also have not been found.

    The new twist added by the discovery of Tiffany Stasi, who has been raised under another name, adds complexity to the case and raises custody and privacy issues that will take a long time to sort out, authorities said.

    The family's identity has not been disclosed but will come out at trial when the individuals who thought they had legally adopted Tiffany are called to testify, Morrison said.

    Tiffany's biological father, Carl Stasi, remarried and is living in Missouri. Authorities said discussions were taking place about a meeting between the two. But all involved were very concerned about the effect on the girl.

    "Everybody wants the best for this kid," Morrison said. "We haven't heard anything about anyone wanting to take this girl away."

    The family issued a statement Friday begging for privacy and promising cooperation in the criminal case.

    Stating they had been "betrayed" by Robinson, the family said, "We love our daughter very much. The circumstances surrounding the investigation of John Robinson are as distressing to our immediate family as they are to the other families victimized. Our daughter is aware of the investigation, and we are doing our best to help her through this difficult time."

    Robinson was being held on a $5-million bond in Johnson County Jail in Olathe, south of Kansas City, Mo. He did not enter pleas to the charges against him.

    In laying out their suspicions against Robinson, authorities portrayed a career con man who lured his victims by posing as a successful entrepreneur offering women jobs and romance. He was alleged to have met women while surfing the Internet, including in sadomasochistic chat rooms where he sometimes was known as "slavemaster."

    Robinson, a father of four, lived a low-profile life in a trailer home park until his arrest.
  14. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member


    Daughter of serial killer's victim wins $5 billion judgment
    Saturday, May 26, 2007
    The Associated Press

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A 22-year-old woman has won a $5 billion judgment against the serial killer who murdered her mother and arranged for her adoption by his own unwitting brother.

    The judgment is intended to ensure that John E. Robinson Sr. -- convicted of killing eight women in two states -- will never profit from his crimes through a book or movie, Jackson County Circuit Judge Thomas Clark said in announcing the award Thursday.

    "This court does not have the authority to silence defendant John E. Robinson Sr.," Clark said. "But this court does have the power to enter a judgment that will take away the profiteering agenda of defendant John E. Robinson Sr."

    Heather Robinson filed the lawsuit in 2004, four years after learning that she was really the daughter of Lisa Stasi, who was 19 when she became the first of three women killed by John Robinson in Kansas.

    Stasi had given birth in September 1984 at a Kansas City, Mo., hospital where John Robinson convinced a social worker he was a businessman seeking to help unwed young mothers. Lisa Stasi disappeared in January 1985, leaving behind the 4-month-old daughter she had named Tiffany.

    Using fake documents, John Robinson arranged for the infant's adoption by his brother and sister-in-law -- in what the couple believed was a legitimate transaction -- and they raised her as Heather Robinson. She still goes by that name.

    John Robinson was convicted in Johnson County, Kan., in 2002 of murdering three women there from early 1985 through early 2000. As with five other women he later admitted killing in western Missouri, Robinson was acquainted with all the victims.

    Many of the victims were found stuffed in barrels in the two states. Lisa Stasi's body was never found.

    John Robinson, 63, remains in a Kansas prison sentenced to death. In a deposition taken as part of Heather Robinson's lawsuit, he gave only his name and refused to answer anything else.

    Court documents reveal Heather Robinson's horror at discovering as a 15-year-old that the man she had known as her uncle was really her mother's killer.

    After Robinson was accused of multiple murders, she withdrew from school while enduring constant hounding from the media, she said. Friends rejected her, and she lived in fear of losing the only parents she ever knew.

    "I used to be a very outgoing person," she said in a deposition last year. "And ever since this has happened, I just crawl up into this little ball, and I do not know why I do this."

    She has experienced recurring thoughts about her mother's death.

    "I did the Ouija board to meet and commune with my mother," she told one doctor who treated her, according to the doctor's deposition. "At age 16 I sat with a crucifix wishing I were dead. I detached myself from feelings."

    She has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, which the judge termed Thursday "equivalent to a living death."

    "It's hard for people to get a handle on how much she's suffered," her attorney, Timothy Monsees, said after Thursday's hearing. "I think there is such a profound sense of emptiness in her."

    She and her parents, who have adopted her legally since John Robinson's arrest, did not attend Thursday's hearing. The role of the hospital and its worker in connecting John Robinson with Lisa Stasi was the subject of a previous confidential court settlement.

    In entering the judgment Thursday, Clark said he shared the concern of Monsees, who suspected that John Robinson's failure to "come clean and provide some closure" in the case was motivated by a desire to someday profit from his story.

    The judge said he hoped his decision Thursday would prevent that from happening.

    "Hopefully, this is the final chapter in this saga of treachery and evil," Clark said.
  15. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member


    16 Years Later, Baby-stealing, Murder Case Comes To Light

    November 15, 2000|By Jon Yates and Art Barnum, Tribune Staff Writers. Tribune staff writer Ted Gregory contributed to this report.

    John Edward Robinson Sr. told his brother he would find him a baby to adopt. Then he told Lisa Stasi he was a philanthropist who liked to help single mothers.

    Within days after she met Robinson 16 years ago, Lisa Stasi and her 4-month-old daughter disappeared--and a baby girl arrived in Chicago, a hasty and illegal adoption brokered by Robinson.

    Now, police investigating a string of murders in the Kansas City area have pieced together a troubling scenario.

    They say Robinson, 56, is responsible for six slayings, including five women he allegedly killed and stuffed into large barrels on his property and in a nearby storage locker.

    The sixth, prosecutors say, was Stasi, a young mother Robinson targeted so he could get a baby for his brother.

    The charges, leveled by Johnson County, Kan., prosecutors in July, have shocked the adoptive family and horrified the girl. Investigators say the girl, now 16 and living in a Chicago suburb, is struggling to come to terms with the allegations that her adoptive uncle is a serial killer--and that one of his victims was her mother.

    "She's known throughout her life that she was adopted. That was told to her," said attorney Brian Grady, who represents the girl and her adoptive family. "Now, the [details] about her adoption have come to light.

    "The family is doing the best they can under the circumstances, which are obviously incredibly difficult."

    Police began investigating Robinson this summer after two women he met over the Internet complained to Kansas City-area police that they had met Robinson for pre-arranged sexual trysts, but that the encounters had gotten out of hand, and Robinson had become abusive.

    On June 2, Robinson was arrested at his home in Olathe, Kan., and charged with two counts of sexual assault. Investigators searched property he owned in nearby La Cygne, Kan., and found the bodies of two women stuffed in 55-gallon barrels. Two days later, they searched a storage locker he rented in Raymore, Mo., and found three more barrels--and three more bodies.

    Prosecutors charged Robinson, a Cicero native and former Eagle Scout, with five murders dating back to 1994, then began investigating other women who had disappeared in the area. Quickly, they zeroed in on Lisa Stasi.

    Police say Robinson met Stasi just before Christmas 1984, days after she had separated from her husband. Robinson told the 19-year-old Stasi he could get her into a job-training program in Texas.

    Intrigued, Stasi agreed to meet Robinson at a Rodeway Inn in Overland Park, Kan. Family members say she left Jan. 10 with her baby, Tiffany, but never returned.

    On Jan. 11, Stasi's sister-in-law reported Lisa and Tiffany missing.

    Because Robinson was the last person seen with Stasi before she disappeared, police questioned him at the time. But because they had no evidence of foul play, investigators accepted his explanation that Stasi had taken her daughter and run off with a new boyfriend to Colorado.

    The girl, who is struggling to come to grips with her newly discovered past, feels more like a "pawn," Grady said.

    Attempts to reach the girl and her adoptive family were unsuccessful. Grady said the family will not talk to the media, and is trying to shield the girl from publicity so she can lead a normal life.

    But the family is trying to broker a meeting between the girl and her biological family in Missouri and Kansas, a process that has been slowed to ensure the teenager is not further traumatized.

    Seth Shumaker, a lawyer representing Carl Stasi, said his client has tried to contact his daughter, but is not pushing things.

    "The child is 16 years of age and she does not know my client," Shumaker said. "That's not his fault, and that's not her fault. We don't want to force the issue. We want her to be the one to decide what kind of contact and when."

    The girl now lives just a short drive from John Edward Robinson's boyhood home in Cicero.

    Robinson was born two days after Christmas in 1943, one of five children to Mr. and Mrs. Henry L. Robinson. As a 13-year-old Eagle Scout, he made the pages of the Chicago Tribune in November and December 1957 after being chosen from 150 Scouts to perform for Queen Elizabeth at an all-Scout show at London's Palladium Theater.

    A freshman at Quigley Preparatory Seminary, Robinson "was named because of his scholastic ability, Scouting experience and poise," according to a Nov. 15, 1957, Chicago Tribune article. "He also has an engaging smile."

    On the trip, he was kissed by Judy Garland and hugged by British star Gracie Fields. He toured the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey and 10 Downing Street. He returned home with a slight British accent, the newspaper reported, and said he had some trouble with England's monetary system and its lack of hot water.

    Back home, Robinson sang in the Quigley choir, and was planning to study for the priesthood after graduating from Quigley. Those plans were short lived. After his freshman year, Robinson left Quigley.

    Police records show he enrolled in a radiation technology program at West Suburban Hospital in Oak Park, where he met and married his wife, Nancy, in 1964. Shortly thereafter, Robinson moved to Kansas City, where he was twice charged with embezzling small amounts from employers.

    In 1971, he returned, briefly, to Chicago to work for RB Jones Inc., and again was found stealing from his bosses. Records show the company fired him on March 4, 1971, charged with embezzling about $5,500. He paid restitution as part of an agreement, and the charges were dropped.

    Robinson moved back to Kansas City in the early 1970s, but problems followed. He was charged several times with theft and embezzling, and was in and out of prison in the 1980s and 1990s, shuttling between cells in Kansas and Missouri.

    But the most serious charges against Robinson were not filed until this summer, more than 15 years after Tiffany's biological aunt, Kathy Klinginsmith, called police to report the girl and her mother missing on Jan. 11, 1985.

    Klinginsmith said she often wondered what happened to her niece, convinced the girl would eventually return.

    "We were just hoping that someday we would find the baby," she said. "I think we always thought deep down that something terrible had happened to Lisa, but we always hoped that the baby was OK."

    Although she knows the girl has grown up with a different name, she still refers to her as Tiffany.

    And, although she has written the girl two long letters--one on Halloween with a flower arrangement, the other with a candle for her 16th birthday--she has yet to receive any reply.

    The biological family was given several pictures of the girl--including one of her in her high school band uniform, a photograph Klinginsmith keeps tacked up in her bedroom.

    "We're not trying to take her out of her home where she's been all her life," she said, "but I want her to know we're here and we love her and we'd like to see her."
  16. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member


    Death sentence upheld for Kansas killer who stuffed women's bodies in barrels
    Published November 06, 2015
    Associated Press

    The Kansas Supreme Court upheld the death sentence for a convicted serial killer on Friday who trolled the Internet for female victims, sometimes using promises of work or sex, and stuffed some of their bodies into barrels on his rural property.

    The ruling in the case of John E. Robinson Sr. -- accused of killing seven women and a teenage girl in Kansas and Missouri -- marked the first time that Kansas' high court has upheld a death sentence since the state reinstated capital punishment in 1994.

    Robinson was sentenced to death for killing two women in Kansas, in 1999 and 2000. The justices upheld his death sentence in a 415-page ruling that also addressed numerous technical arguments raised by Robinson's attorneys.

    Robinson also was convicted for the 1985 death of a third young Kansas woman whose body was never found. Robinson, now 71, was sentenced to life in prison for killing four other women and a teenage girl in Missouri.

    Before Friday's ruling, the court had faced criticism over the number of death sentences it had overturned.

    The U.S. Supreme Court is considering appeals in three such cases, including those of brothers Jonathan and Reginald Carr, who were convicted of dozens of crimes leading up to the murders of four people in a snow-covered soccer field in Wichita in December 2000. A total of nine men are on Kansas' death row.

    Robinson was convicted in the 2000 death of 27-year-old Suzette Trouten of Newport, Michigan, and the 1999 killing of 21-year-old Izabela Lewicka, a Polish immigrant who attended Purdue University. His third, noncapital conviction in Kansas was in connection with the 1985 death of Lisa Stasi, a 19-year-old who was last seen by her family with Robinson in the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park.

    According to evidence during his trial, Robinson used the Internet to lure Trouten and Lewicka to Kansas, and their bodies were found in June 2000 in large barrels on Robinson's rural property 60 miles south of Kansas City. Two days later, three more bodies were discovered in barrels in a storage locker Robinson rented in the Kansas City area.

    Prosecutors described Robinson as a predator who trolled the Internet under the name "Slavemaster" looking for sadomasochistic sex with women.

    Robinson raised more than 100 issues in appealing his Kansas convictions and death sentence, including the ability of a juror in his 2002 trial to bring a Bible into deliberations.

    In arguments before the state Supreme Court earlier this year, Robinson's attorney said it was improper for prosecutors in Kansas to bring killings in Missouri into their case, so that Robinson would be eligible for a death sentence for multiple murders occurring in a single course of conduct.
  17. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member


    Death sentence is upheld for serial killer John E. Robinson Sr.


    November 06, 2015 09:50 AM

    John E. Robinson Sr., the prolific serial killer from Olathe who stored the bodies of some of his victims in barrels, will remain on death row, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled Friday.

    In a massive 415-page opinion, the court systemically rejected dozens of appellate claims stemming from Robinson’s 2002 trial in Johnson County — the longest criminal trial in Kansas history.

    But the court threw out one of his two capital murder convictions as well as a first-degree murder conviction.

    The court found that prosecutors at the time improperly used the murders of the same four previous victims to support each capital murder charge.

    That created a double jeopardy situation in which Robinson unconstitutionally was tried twice for the same crime, the court found.

    For the same reason, the court also dismissed Robinson’s first-degree murder conviction. That victim’s death was among the killings used to support the capital murder charges.

    Friday’s ruling marked the first time the state’s highest court upheld a death sentence since Kansas reinstated capital punishment in 1994.

    Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe, who took office after the case was tried, said Friday he was pleased with the decision.

    “This was one of the most infamous cases ever heard in Johnson County or the state of Kansas,” Howe said.

    And although the ruling marked only one big step in a typically lengthy appeals process in death penalty cases, Howe said he was hopeful that the process would proceed swiftly “so justice can finally be brought for all of Robinson’s victims.”

    A Johnson County jury found Robinson, now 71, guilty of capital murder in each of the deaths of two women whose bodies were found in the year 2000 stuffed inside barrels on property he owned in Linn County, Kan.

    The jury also found him guilty of first-degree murder in the death of a Kansas City woman who disappeared in 1985 with her infant daughter.

    Authorities later learned that Robinson had given the baby to his brother and sister-in-law, who believed he had arranged a legitimate adoption for them.

    Friday’s ruling does not affect Robinson’s convictions in Cass County, Mo., where he pleaded guilty to killing five other women. Three of those victims were found inside barrels in a Raymore storage locker. He was sentenced to life in prison for those crimes.

    Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster handled those cases when he was Cass County prosecutor.

    “John E. Robinson committed the worst serial homicides in Kansas City history,” Koster said Friday. “I’m gratified the Kansas Supreme Court today upheld his well-deserved death sentence.”

    In Friday’s opinion, written by Justice Caleb Stegall, the Supreme Court found that a number of errors were made during the trial, but they did not prevent Robinson from receiving a fair trial.

    The court also praised then Johnson County district judge John Anderson III for his handling of the complex case.

    Paul Morrison, who led the prosecution as district attorney, also said Anderson’s careful handling of the case was a big factor in the court’s decision.

    “I’m glad they upheld the death penalty,” said Morrison, who now practices law in Olathe. About half of all death sentences nationally are vacated for technical legal errors, he noted.

    Justice Lee Johnson penned the sole dissent to the court’s decision, saying he also would have dismissed the remaining capital charge. Johnson wrote that he believes the death penalty violates the Kansas Constitution.

    Robinson’s 11/2-month-long trial in Johnson County revealed a man who engaged in years of cunning depravity while at the same time projecting the facade of a suburban father and grandfather.

    Salacious details about the sadistic sexual lifestyle he shared with some of his victims drew both national and international news coverage.

    Two of those women, Suzette Trouten, 27, of Michigan, and Izabela Lewicka, 21, of Indiana, moved to the Kansas City area after exchanging online communications with Robinson. Both believed that he was offering them jobs, and both agreed to be his sex slave.

    A missing person report filed by Trouten’s family in 2000 led to the discovery of their bodies on Robinson’s Linn County property and the subsequent investigation that led to the discovery of three other bodies in Raymore.

    Investigators also linked Robinson to three women who disappeared in the 1980s and never were found.

    One of them, Lisa Stasi, last was seen by her family with Robinson in 1985. The investigation led police to the Chicago area, where they discovered that Robinson’s 15-year-old adopted niece was actually Stasi’s daughter.

    Evidence at his trial showed that Robinson had forged documents to convince his brother and sister-in-law that their adoption of the baby had been arranged by an attorney. He even charged them $5,000 to pay for the adoption.

    After the discovery of the bodies in Linn County, investigators searched the storage locker Robinson rented in Raymore.

    One of the three victims found there, 45-year-old Sheila Faith, had moved to the Kansas City area with her 15-year-old disabled daughter to be with Robinson after meeting him online. The body of Debbie Faith also was in the storage locker. Robinson continued to collect Social Security checks mailed to them years after their deaths.

    The other Raymore victim was Beverly Bonner, 49, who left her husband for Robinson after meeting him in a Missouri prison where she worked and he served a sentence for financial fraud. Robinson cashed alimony checks from Bonner’s former husband after killing her.

    Robinson covered his tracks by spinning an intricate maze of deceit to make their families believe the women were still alive.

    After his Johnson County trial, Robinson pleaded guilty to the Cass County killings. He also admitted to killing Paula Godfrey, 19, and Catherine Clampitt, 27, both of whom never were found after vanishing in the 1980s. In exchange for those guilty pleas, Koster agreed to a life sentence instead of seeking the death penalty.

    Under Kansas law, capital murder is confined to a limited circumstances. One is killing more than one person as part of a common scheme or during the same course of conduct.

    In Friday’s ruling, the court found that prosecutors had proved those connections.

    “The state presented ample evidence that Robinson lured his victims with promises of financial gain, employment, or travel; exploited them sexually or financially; used similar methods to murder and dispose of their bodies; and used deception to conceal the crimes, including phony letters and e-mails to victims’ friends and family members,” the court ruled.

    But where the state erred was in how it structured the two capital murder charges involving Trouten and Lewicka. In each charge, they listed the killings of Stasi, Bonner and Debbie and Sheila Faith as part of the same common scheme.

    Howe, the Johnson County district attorney, said that in 2000, prosecutors didn’t have the benefit of subsequent appeals court rulings that provided guidance on charging capital cases.

    “At that time, this was probably the right way to go,” he said.

    Tony Rizzo: 816-234-4435, @trizzkc


    Authorities found two bodies in barrels on the Linn County, Kan., property of John E. Robinson in 2000. File photo The Kansas City Star
  18. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member


    To his Kansas neighbors, J.R. Robinson was a churchgoing family man. The police knew him as a convicted con artist. But for more than a decade, until his capture last year, no one suspected Robinson might be a sadomasochistic monster who’d used the Internet and other lures to kill at least six women.
    ohn “J.R.” Robinson, a fleshy man of 41 with wavy brown hair and a winning smile, left his four-acre estate in the horsey exurbs southwest of Kansas City, Missouri, and drove to an apartment in the city where he kept the woman he called his mistress. The trip from the rolling Kansas prairie across the Missouri border to the gritty, urban precincts of Troost Avenue took barely half an hour. It was still early on this Saturday morning in late May of 1985.

    Robinson let himself into the brick apartment building—he had his own keys—and then into the apartment itself, a two-bedroom unit on the third floor. The woman in residence, Theresa Williams, 21, had been asleep but bolted awake when Robinson barged into her bedroom.

    J.R. grabbed Theresa by the hair, pulled her over his knee, and started spanking her.

    “You’ve been a real bad girl,” he snarled. “You need to learn a lesson.”

    Theresa, momentarily speechless, started screaming. J.R. threw her to the floor and drew a revolver from a shoulder holster.

    “If you don’t shut up, I’ll blow your brains out.” He put the gun to her head and pulled the trigger. There was a loud click. The chamber was empty.

    Cowering and crying softly now, Theresa stiffened as J.R. slid the gun down her torso and stuck the barrel into her vagina.

    “I’ll bet you’ve never had a blowout,” he said.

    “Don’t do that!” she pleaded.

    J.R. withdrew the gun from Theresa’s body, holstered it, and left the apartment as suddenly as he had entered. The terrified woman, her sobs slowly ebbing, did not summon help. She felt helpless. One did not cross J.R. Robinson.

    J.R. drove from Troost Avenue back across the state line to his Kansas home, where he arrived in time to attend his teenage son’s regular Saturday soccer game. To all appearances, J.R. Robinson was a doting father and husband. A skilled handyman, he had built a soccer goal in the family’s spacious yard so his son could practice at home. He attended his daughter’s flute recitals and band concerts, and refereed school volleyball games.

    His neighbors knew J.R. as a successful businessman and entrepreneur, always talking of new ventures. He was a neighborhood activist, an officer of the residents’ association, and chairman of its rules committee. He was also a founding elder of the nearby Presbyterian Church.

    Neither his neighbors nor his children knew that J.R. Robinson led a second life—secret and sordid—dating back nearly two decades. (How much his wife knew was unclear, even years later.) J.R. was a swindler, an embezzler, and a forger. He was a sexual predator, a deviant, and a pimp. And in the mid-80s in Kansas he was becoming something much more sinister—a murderer of women.

    Indeed, J.R. Robinson is rare in the annals of American crime: a genial con man and a homicidal monster all in one. Unlike Ted Bundy or John Wayne Gacy, who chose their victims impulsively and killed them with dispatch, Robinson developed relationships with his. Using the Internet and his own considerable charm, he lured them to Kansas with offers of employment and sadomasochistic sex. He exploited them financially, enticing them into giving him their life savings and retirement accounts, cashing their disability checks, and, in one case, selling a victim’s baby to his brother and sister-in-law. Then, prosecutors allege, he beat at least five women to death with a blunt object, most likely a large hammer.

    “I’ve dealt with a wide variety of characters, but never anyone like Robinson,” says Stephen Haymes, 49, who has been a probation officer for 26 years and who saw through Robinson far sooner than anyone else in law enforcement. “He’s just chilling. There are so many sides to him. There is the con man after money. There is the murderer. There is the sexual deviant. There is the cover-up artist—the lies, endless lies.”

    The real Kansas belies its image. I know because I grew up there, as did my parents and grandparents. Kansas isn’t nearly so flat as it appears from 35,000 feet; the Flint Hills of eastern Kansas are craggy and stark. Kansas isn’t bland; Come Back, Little Sheba and Picnic, by William Inge of Independence, Kansas (where my mother was born and her uncle was district attorney), reveal as much elemental human strife in small-town Kansas as in the urban East of Eugene O’Neill and the South of Tennessee Williams.

    Kansas isn’t peaceful either; murder and mayhem stain its history and stain it today. The cattle centers of Dodge City and Abilene (my father’s hometown) were as violent as any other towns west of the Mississippi in the 19th century. In 1892 four members of the Dalton Gang were shot to pieces in Coffeyville, after trying to rob two banks in the same day. Staggering quantities of blood were spilled along the Missouri border in the 1850s when Missouri, a slave state, tried to impose its ways on Kansas. The anti-slavery zealot John Brown and his allies clashed so violently with pro-slavery forces that the region became known all the way to Washington, D.C., as “bleeding Kansas.” In the 20th century too, Kansas saw more than its share of violence. The Ma Barker and Pretty Boy Floyd gangs crisscrossed the state in the 1930s. When Perry Smith and Richard Hickock drove to western Kansas in 1959 and slaughtered the Clutter family, chronicled in Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, they left from the town of Olathe (pronounced “Oh-*lay-*thuh”), Hickock’s hometown, just a few minutes from where J.R. Robinson lived two decades later.

    Still, Kansas retains a know-your-neighbor, help-your-neighbor quality of life that makes it seem different—even from adjacent Missouri—and gives the atrocities of John Robinson a special horror. This story presents the case against Robinson as reflected in a three-month Vanity Fair investigation, which includes detailed evidence gathered by Kansas and Missouri prosecutors and law-enforcement officers and set forth in court.

    John Edward Robinson was born not in Kansas but in Cicero, Illinois, a blue-collar, Mafia-tinged enclave on the west edge of Chicago, in 1943. He was the middle child of five. His father, Henry, was a machinist for Western Electric and a binge drinker. His mother, Alberta, was the family disciplinarian and turned young John into a teenage star—at least briefly. When he was 13, in the fall of 1957, he enrolled in the Quigley Preparatory Seminary in the heart of downtown Chicago, a five-year academy for Catholic boys. That same fall he made the rank of Eagle Scout and flew to London to lead a group of 120 Boy Scouts onto the stage of the Palladium theater to appear in a command performance of a Scout variety show before Queen Elizabeth II. According to a Chicago Tribune article at the time, unearthed much later by The Kansas City Star, Robinson was selected for the honor “because of his scholastic ability, scouting experience, and poise. . . . He also has an engaging smile.” Backstage he met Judy Garland. “We Americans gotta stick together,” young Robinson told her.

    Robinson’s smile and choirboy mien were on display in that year’s Quigley yearbook. He did not appear in subsequent yearbooks, however, and seemed to disappear for a time, according to investigators who have probed his background. Robinson attended a Cicero junior college in 1961 and studied medical X-ray technology. He did not graduate, and next surfaced three years later in Kansas City, Missouri. He was 21 and had married a woman named Nancy Jo Lynch.

    It wasn’t long before John Robinson ran afoul of the law. He was employed as a laboratory technician and office manager by a Kansas City physician, Wallace Graham, who had been President Harry Truman’s personal doctor. In June 1967, Graham reported to the Kansas City police that Robinson had embezzled about $33,000 from him by manipulating checks and deposits. Robinson was prosecuted and found guilty by a jury of “stealing by means of deceit.” He avoided jail, but was placed on probation for three years.

    While on probation, Robinson got a job as a manager of a television-rental company. He stole merchandise and was fired but not prosecuted. In 1969 he went to work as a systems analyst for the Mobil Oil Corporation, which wasn’t aware that he was on probation.
  19. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member


    In choosing not to inform Mobil of Robinson’s background, his probation officer said in a memorandum to the Missouri Board of Probation and Parole that Robinson “does not appear to be an individual who is basically inclined towards criminal activities and is motivated towards achieving middle class values.” Another officer stated on August 13, 1970, that Robinson was “responding extremely well to probation supervision” and she was “encouraging [him] to advance as far as possible with Mobil Oil.”

    Precisely two weeks later Mobil Oil discovered that Robinson had stolen 6,200 U.S. postage stamps from the company. He was fired, reported to the police, and charged with theft. The following month, Robinson and his wife moved back to his home city of Chicago, where he got a job with a company called Illinois R. B. Jones. Within a month he was stealing again; he embezzled $5,500 over six months before he was caught and fired. Robinson’s father gave him the money to make restitution, so Illinois authorities dismissed criminal charges.

    Robinson and his wife moved back to the Kansas City area, where he was arrested for violating the terms of his probation and thrown in jail “to provide a strong motivation for a complete reversal in his behavior,” wrote Gordon Morris, a Missouri probation officer. Robinson was released after only a few weeks and his probation was extended five years—to 1976.

    Probation authorities still believed that “prognosis in this case is good,” as they stated in an April 1973 report. They did not know that Robinson was already stealing again, this time from his next-door neighbor Evalee McKnight, a retired school-teacher who gave Robinson $30,000 to invest, according to police records I reviewed in Kansas. She never saw the money again.

    Oblivious to all of this, Missouri probation authorities discharged Robinson from probation in 1974, two years early.

    Around this time Robinson started a company he called Professional Service Association Inc. (P.S.A.), purportedly to provide financial and budget consultation to physicians in the Kansas City area. Two groups of doctors at the University of Kansas medical school hired him to manage their financial affairs. The doctor who interviewed Robinson later told The Kansas City Star, “He made a very good impression: well-dressed, nice-looking . . . seemed to know a lot, very glib, good speaker.” The doctors dismissed Robinson after only a few months, however, because of irregularities in his handling of their finances.

    But that didn’t stop Robinson, who was sending letters to potential investors in P.S.A., portraying a growing, healthy company. One letter suggested that Marion Laboratories, founded by Ewing M. Kauffman, then owner of the Kansas City Royals baseball team, was negotiating to purchase P.S.A. It wasn’t.

    Federal authorities got wind of the scheme, and a U.S. grand jury indicted John Robinson on four counts of securities and mail fraud. In June 1976 a federal judge fined him $2,500 and placed him on three years’ probation. It was his third such sentence in six years. He had served only a few weeks in jail. And authorities didn’t even know of all the crimes committed by Robinson, a pathological thief dodging easily through the system.

    In 1977, John Robinson, now 34, moved his growing family—he and Nancy by this time had four children—a few miles across the state line into Kansas. They bought a nine-room house on four acres in a neighborhood called Pleasant Valley Farms, in the southern reaches of Johnson County, which stretched south and west into Kansas from the Missouri border. It was one of the richest counties in the United States, 480 square miles of sleek suburban affluence—some of the towns had Shawnee names, such as Lenexa (for the wife of an Indian chief), and the county seat, Olathe (“beautiful”). The people of Johnson County felt a bit superior to their Missouri neighbors, and once you crossed into Kansas there was a different feeling. The light seemed brighter, the landscape less dingy. The Kansans were richer, smarter, nicer, gentler.

    Pleasant Valley Farms, with its vistas across rolling hills, stands of elm and maple trees, bridle path, and lake stocked with fish, felt rural and remote, even though it was less than an hour’s drive northeast to downtown Kansas City. The Robinsons’ new home was a modern asymmetrical structure of wood, brick, and stone on four levels with two big stone fireplaces. It nestled in the middle of the property, with a horse stable and corral at the back, against a tree line along the ridge of a low hill. The Oregon and Santa Fe Trails, along which thousands of settlers had made their way west in the 19th century, coincided in eastern Kansas, and their route traced the back of the Robinsons’ property.

    John Robinson had a new career to go with his new home—hydroponics, a method of growing vegetables in a controlled nutrient-rich indoor environment. He started a company, Hydro-Gro Inc., and produced a 64-page booklet. Fun with Home Hobby Hydroponics: “We hope that as you read this book you will form an acquaintance with John Robinson as a sensitive and stimulating human being,” the introduction said, portraying Robinson as “one of the nation’s pioneers in indoor home hydroponics” and a “sought after lecturer, consultant and author.”

    Whatever they thought of hydroponics, Robinson’s new neighbors found him intelligent and energetic, conversing knowledgeably about international finance and other business matters at local picnics. In addition to helping run the neighborhood association, he was a visible neighbor, working in his yard a lot, installing a rail fence and a pond. His children—John junior, who was 14 years old; Kimberly, 12; and twins Christopher and Christine (“Chris” and “Chrissie”), who were 8—were well behaved and popular. John junior helped his father with work around the property. Chris and Chrissie took care of the dogs and cats of their neighbors Margaret and Jim Adams when the Adamses traveled. Margaret Adams enjoyed having Chrissie come over and pick strawberries in the garden.

    John Robinson’s neighborhood activism extended to civic activism, or so it appeared. GROUP FOR DISABLED HONORS AREA MAN, headlined The Kansas City Times on December 8, 1977. The article reported that John Robinson, president of Hydro-Gro Inc., had been named “Man of the Year” for his work with the handicapped. He headed the board of a “sheltered workshop,” which employed disabled people, the newspaper said. The award, a “proclamation” signed by the mayor of Kansas City, turned out to be one of the more bizarre episodes in Robinson’s checkered career. Two weeks after the newspaper report, it was revealed that Robinson had orchestrated the award himself through a complex sequence of fake letters of recommendation he had sent to city hall. The Kansas City Star, then the afternoon counterpart of the Times, revealed the ruse in a story headlined MAN-OF-THE-YEAR PLOY BACKFIRES ON “HONOREE.”

    As his neighbors in Pleasant Valley Farms got to know John Robinson better, they noticed that he could be prickly and even mean when upset. Margaret Adams, an avid gardener, recalls that she once asked him to demonstrate his hydroponics system. He gladly complied and was pleasant until she told him that she felt his price for the system was too high. “You’ve wasted my time—you’re small potatoes,” he snapped, abruptly terminating the encounter.

    Robinson nearly came to blows with another neighbor over a misbehaving dog. And he became disenchanted with the neighborhood association, accusing it in a formal letter of being “invalid” when, in his opinion, it failed to enforce some of its rules. “He was cocky and arrogant,” another neighbor told me. “You needed to walk on eggs around him.”

    Robinson liked to control his surroundings. Neighbors occasionally heard him yelling at his wife and children, ordering them about like a drill sergeant. The children followed his orders and seemed to thrive on the discipline, becoming model citizens who adored their father. Nancy, however, began divorce proceedings, and the marriage survived only after counseling.
  20. Akoya

    Akoya Bronze Member


    In 1980, Robinson, while continuing to run Hydro-Gro, took a job as the director of personnel at a Kansas City subsidiary of Borden Inc., the global food company. Borden did not check Robinson’s background. Within a few months the company caught Robinson stealing—again by manipulating checks and bank deposits to divert funds to his financial company, P.S.A. The losses totaled more than $40,000, part of which Robinson spent on an Olathe apartment where he conducted sexual liaisons with two women who worked for Borden, police records and internal Borden documents show. “John kind of swept me off my feet,” one of the women told a police detective in a formal interrogation. “He treated me like a queen. . . . He always had money to take me to nice restaurants and hotels.”

    Fully cognizant of Robinson’s criminal record, the Missouri authorities still coddled him. He faced a maximum sentence of seven years, but spent only two months in prison and was again placed on probation, this time for five years.

    The Borden scandal caused hardly a ripple in Robinson’s neighborhood, where he managed to bluff it through as a misunderstanding over a business matter. He went on running Hydro-Gro and set up another company, Equi-Plus, which purported to offer management-consulting services. One of Equi-Plus’s first customers in the early 80s was a company called Back Care Systems, which ran seminars for corporations on treatment of back pain. Back Care hired Equi-Plus to develop a marketing plan. When the company began getting invoices from Equi-Plus that appeared to be inflated or in some cases bogus, it reported Robinson to the Johnson County district attorney’s office, which began a criminal investigation. Robinson’s lawyer advised him to obtain sworn affidavits attesting to the legitimacy of the invoices. Robinson did so. He faked the affidavits.

    Undaunted by the investigation of Equi-Plus, John Robinson created another company, Equi-II, as an umbrella corporation to absorb Equi-Plus and engage in a variety of business and “philanthropic” ventures. He had used his previous companies to perpetrate financial fraud and theft, but his new company would serve an additional, more sinister purpose: luring young women to their deaths.

    One of the people he hired to work for him, in 1984, was Paula Godfrey, a pretty, dark-haired young woman who had graduated from high school in Olathe the previous year. Robinson told Godfrey, an honor student and accomplished figure skater, that he would enroll her in a training course in Texas and pay all her expenses. On the day of her scheduled departure, Robinson picked her up at her parents’ home in Overland Park, a Johnson County suburb, to go to the airport. After not hearing from her for several days, the Godfreys reported to the police that their daughter was missing. The police checked with Robinson, who disclaimed any knowledge of her whereabouts. Shortly thereafter, the police received a letter purportedly signed by Paula Godfrey stating that she was “O.K.,” and that she did not want to see her family. Having no contrary evidence, the police suspended their investigation. It was a decision they would come to regret. Many people now believe that Paula Godfrey was Robinson’s first murder victim.

    Robinson soon offered help to other young women. In December 1984 he presented himself to social workers at the Truman Medical Center, the leading public hospital in Kansas City, and to an organization called Birthright, which counseled unwed, pregnant young women and aided them after delivery of their babies. Robinson told both groups that he and several other businessmen in Olathe and Overland Park had started an organization called Kansas City Outreach. It provided housing for young unwed mothers and their babies, Robinson said, as well as job training and baby-sitting. Robinson invited Truman Medical Center and Birthright to submit candidates for the services and said the program would likely receive funding from Xerox, IBM, and other major corporations.

    In early January 1985, Truman Medical Center put Robinson in touch with a 19-year-old woman named Lisa Stasi, who had just given birth to a daughter, Tiffany. Lisa and her husband, Carl, had separated. Robinson indicated that he would house Lisa and Tiffany at an apartment he had rented on Troost Avenue, an area of small businesses and apartments in south Kansas City. When Robinson spoke to Stasi directly, he told her that his name was John Osborne and that he could help her get a high-school equivalency diploma and job training not only in Kansas City but in Chicago and Denver as well. Instead of putting her up at the Troost Avenue apartment, Robinson installed Lisa and Tiffany at a Rodeway Inn in Overland Park.

    On January 8, Robinson told Stasi that he had arranged for her and the baby to travel to Chicago in a day or two. In preparation, Robinson had Stasi sign four blank sheets of stationery and give him the addresses of her relatives. He would notify them of her whereabouts, he said, because she would be too busy in Chicago to write letters.

    Stasi spent several hours that day and the next with Kansas City relatives who tried to dissuade her from going to Chicago. How well did she really know John Osborne? they asked. “He is a gentleman,” she replied. On the afternoon of January 9, Robinson drove from Overland Park through a heavy snowstorm to pick up Stasi at the home of her sister-in-law, Kathy Klinginsmith, in Kansas City. Angry that she had left the Rodeway Inn, he insisted that they leave immediately. Stasi, carrying Tiffany, accompanied Robinson, whom she still knew as John Osborne, to his car, leaving most of her belongings and her own car at her sister-in-law’s. As Klinginsmith watched the man take Lisa off into the snow, she would later say in court, “I was afraid of him. I knew deep down that was the last time I would see Lisa.”

    The next morning Klinginsmith telephoned the Rodeway Inn where Stasi had been staying. A clerk said that she had checked out and her bill had been settled by a John Robinson, not John Osborne, with a corporate credit card in the name of Equi-II. Klinginsmith’s fear deepened into panic.

    here was a festive party that evening at the Robinsons’ home in Pleasant Valley Farms. John Robinson’s brother and sister-in-law, Don and Helen Robinson, had been trying for years to adopt a baby. John had told them that he had connections in Kansas City who might help. That morning they had flown from Chicago to Kansas City, where John met them at the airport and took them to the offices of Equi-II in Overland Park. Don and Helen signed what looked like official adoption papers and paid John $5,500 in cash. He then drove them to his home, where Nancy awaited them with a healthy female infant in her arms. John had brought the baby home unannounced the previous evening, Nancy recalled later in court. A photograph of the occasion shows the happy extended family celebrating in John and Nancy’s living room. At the center of the picture, looking every inch a godfather, is John Robinson with the baby on his lap.

    John confided to Don and Helen that the baby had become available for adoption when her mother had committed suicide. The new parents named the baby Heather and the next day, January 11, flew back to Chicago, not knowing that Heather already had a name, Tiffany Stasi.

    That same day Kathy Klinginsmith’s husband, David, appeared at the offices of Equi-II in Overland Park and confronted Robinson on the whereabouts of Lisa Stasi and Tiffany. Robinson physically ejected David Klinginsmith from the office. Kathy, meanwhile, drove to the Overland Park Police Department and reported her sister-in-law and the baby missing.

    Robinson’s approach to Birthright had been more problematic, because Ann Smith, the Birthright employee to whom Robinson had first spoken, grew suspicious. Robinson had told her that Kansas City Outreach was supported by the Presbyterian Church he had helped found near his home in Pleasant Valley Farms. He also told her that his program’s supporters included an Olathe bank on whose board of directors he sat.

    Smith called both the church and the bank. The church acknowledged that Robinson was a member, but said it had no connection to any program to help unwed mothers. The bank said Robinson was not on its board; it had never heard of him.

    Smith made more inquiries, which eventually, on December 18, 1984, led her to a district supervisor of the Missouri Board of Probation and Parole, a slim, mustachioed, soft-spoken man named Stephen Haymes, then 32 years old. Missouri-born-and-bred, he had majored in sociology and criminal justice in college. When poor eyesight had barred him from many jobs in law enforcement, he had settled on a career as a probation officer.

    Haymes, taking Ann Smith’s call in Missouri, had never heard of Robinson, who was supervised by a Kansas probation officer in Olathe. He pulled Robinson’s file and perused his lengthy criminal record. After checking with his Kansas counterpart, who reported no problems with Robinson, Haymes sent a letter to Robinson ordering him to report to the Missouri probation office on January 17, 1985. Robinson did not show up. Haymes sent him another letter, registered this time, ordering an appearance on January 24.
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