MISSING AND MURDERED IN THE MIDWEST: A podcast looking into crimes that made the headlines, starting in the Quad City area and expanding throughout the Midwest. Podcast host and News 8 Executive Producer Toria Wilson, dedicated her time into researching the murder cases that shocked us and the missing persons cases that left us with unanswered questions.
A REAL warning to all readers of this article and/or listeners of this episode: there are some extremely graphic and disturbing facts within this case.
John Robinson: a perceived business, community and family man with a dark secret of being a manipulator, child kidnapper and potential killer. When we ended the last episode, John had just left prison needing money to kick-start his schemes with bloodier ambitions
Before getting into the grittier parts of John Robinson’s crimes (because he really ramps up after exiting prison) there are a few things to note about who this man is.
John is a unique serial killer in that he never suffered a severe head injury or killed animals.
However, he still had many classic traits of serial killers such as signs of antisocial personality disorder. John, and many like him with the same diagnosis, have a superficial charm but are emotionally stunted, unreliable and are able to put on a charade. They also have above-average intelligence.
John still knew right from wrong, he knew the consequences of his actions, but simply didn’t care.
When finding his victims, John worked similarly to killers such as John Wayne Gacy and Jeffrey Dahmer. He’d hide his victims and try to throw off police if they got remotely close to him using letters he would send to family members with the signatures of the victims.
In the past, he fell through the cracks in the legal system.
Listen to the previous episode: Missing and Murdered in the Midwest: John Robinson Part 1, from money to murder
John thought he was smarter and better than law enforcement, invisible in some ways. For all those around him; from John’s victims; to the community; to law enforcement and to his family; John couldn’t have done evil things because he just didn’t fit a stereotypical profile: he was older, shorter, nice, not particularly good looking and in poor health.
His seemingly 'normal' profile fooled people leading to shock later on when it became known that John was into kinks like sadomasochism, or BDSM, which stands for bondage, dominance, submission and masochism.
BDSM can include individuals who get off on inflicting physical pain, or humiliation, either on themselves or another person. Many of these relationships are positive and consensual between a dominant, or a master, and a submissive, or a slave. Crucial to these types of relationships is trust. BDSM is not entirely about inflicting pain, but being able to explore a different side of sex with someone who WON’T cause lasting physical harm… like being murdered or beaten to a bloody pulp.
John was connected to a secretive, underground group called the International Council of Masters, a group dedicated forming these types of connections. John recruited number of new slaves, some willing, others not.
He was so successful that in the organization he was nicknamed 'SlaveMaster'. Later, John would end up using that nickname on the internet.
Chapter one: Post-prison with new friends
Now that we all know a little bit more about John let’s go back to just before he left prison.
If you remember in Part 1 of this series, John was forced to stay in prison for an extra two years after pleading to the Missouri Board of Probation and Parole for mercy and getting rejected.
So, in 1991 John was moved to Western Missouri Correctional Center to serve out the remainder of his time. There, John met Beverly Bonner who worked in the prison library and was married to one of the doctors within the facility. The two struck up a friendship after realizing they both had worked at Mobil Oil years earlier.
Beverly was charmed damn near instantly especially because John paid attention to her, listened to her and just seemed genuinely interested in the things she did both inside and outside of the prison walls.
It didn’t take long for the two of them to go from a friendship to a relationship.
John looked forward to getting out of prison. He wanted to restart his business ventures to make some money and travel the world and he wanted Beverly by his side for all of it.
After John was finally released in 1993, he went back to his wife Nancy and four children while Beverly began the process of leaving her husband. In 1994, her divorced was finalized and she packed up her things and made the move to Kansas City to be closer to John.
With the help of Beverly, John restarted his “Hydro-Gro” business, a company that allegedly sold indoor gardening kits. Beverly was listed as the company’s president while a certain John "Turner" was listed as the company's secretary. This was the first time, but not the last that Robinson would use this alias.
Things were going well between the new couple and Beverly began bragging about her new career path and her new lover to her mother. At first, she told her mom that his name was indeed John Robinson but later would correct herself, saying his name was Jim Redmond.
Which is... a little odd.
But since John was a convicted criminal, that Beverly met while she worked at prison, their connection was not glorified in any sense of the word. She was in love and didn’t question their relationship so did what she thought she needed to do.
Apparently that included signing blank pieces of papers at John’s request. Under John’s reasoning, Beverly was going to be traveling internationally and letters would be sent to her family once she was overseas. Her family started receiving those letters describing the amazing time she was having in Europe, Russia and China. The forwarding address though was a mailbox at a place called the MailRoom in Kansas.
The box was in Beverly’s name to throw off Beverly’s ex-husband of anything suspicious, especially since the man was sending a $1,000 monthly settlement. Her ex, Dr. Bonner, would continue to do this for 18 months.
John also rented a storage locker at a place called Stor-Mor in Raymore, Missouri under Beverly's name. John’s wife, Nancy, rented a space there in the past, but John claimed he needed more room as he was holding his "sister", Beverly’s, belongings as she traveled abroad. No one questioned it.
At Stor-Mor, John would unload a large sealed metal barrel and placed it in the unit. He locked it and drove away.
Beverly’s friends and family, never saw or heard from her ever again.
For some reason no one questioned it until 1995 when one of her sons died. She didn't attend his funeral, which pissed off some family members. There were a lot of assumptions as to why she was missing from this particularly important event.
Maybe she was still traveling abroad or maybe she ran off with a man. If she’s dead, why hasn’t her body turned up?
She couldn’t have disappeared because people were still getting letters from her. Some suggested that her absence was because of John Robinson but there was no evidence linking the two together. No one who knew Beverly went to the police so authorities had no clue she was missing.
At the same time that John was restarting his life after prison and Beverly was making a dramatic life change to be closer to him, there was another woman who was falling for John on the internet.
Chapter two: It's 1993 and John Robinson is feeling free
It's not known how Sheila Faith was able to connect with John Robinson on the internet in 1993.
In the beginning, all she knew was that he lived in Kansas or Missouri, and was a farmer. His kindness was refreshing in Sheila’s life as the past few years had been extremely tough for both her and her daughter, Debbie Faith.
Debbie was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and needed a motorized scooter to get around.
Sheila, and her husband John, took good care of her until 1991 when John died of cancer. Without him around, Debbie and Sheila began to struggle. Sheila was only getting around $1,000 from Social Security, plus food stamps. Debbie’s medical bills became crippling especially as Debbie entered her teen years and doctors discovered she had spina bifida. What made things even MORE complicated was that Debbie weighed 200-pounds.
Sheila and Debbie jumped from home to home around California trying to make ends meet.
In 1993, Sheila had enough of trying to make California work, so they took off to Colorado. It was sometime after this that Sheila and John’s relationship really took off with John telling Sheila that he had horses on his property and would help Debbie with therapy or anything else they needed for her care. For Sheila, it was a godsend and John became her dream man as she told many of her friends.
In the spring of 1994, Debbie and Sheila packed up very few belongings from their home and seemingly left town when no one was looking. Neighbors were shocked to find them moved out and both were never seen or heard from again.
Before the Faith’s moved, Sheila did ask if her neighbors could keep track of her mail including Debbie’s disability check. But even that would eventually stop coming to Colorado and neighbors discovered that Sheila’s mail was being forwarded to the Mailroom, the same place where Beverly Bonner’s settlement checks were being sent to.
That mailbox was rented by a man named John Turner aka John Robinson. The owner of the Mailroom said John had been picking up the Faith’s checks since 1994, all 152 of them totaling about $80,000. Sheila’s brother reported that not long after her move he began receiving typed letters from her saying that she and Debbie were doing just fine.
In 1995, pushing 1996, John Robinson turned 52-years-old.
Chapter three: JR is in the chatroom
Sometime after his birthday, his family moved to a new mobile home park Nancy was the manager of. John created a new business called Specialty Publications, with a trade publication called Manufactured Modular Living, all about the mobile home industry.
Every morning after Nancy left for work, roughly around 8:30 a.m., John would turn on at least one of his five computers and instead of promoting his new project, he was online, in chat rooms, talking with dozens of women.
Sometimes he was Jim Turner, or JT, a successful businessman and farmer. Other times, he’d go by Slavemaster, visiting a BDSM website, the newest, darkest thing on the web. Slavemaster was searching for a submissive, with the promise that he could help these women in need.
This sub-culture, I guess you could call it, was an escape from reality for a lot of people to step outside of their mundane lives and live a little on the edge. Some, had limits as to how much pain they could handle. Safe words were established to indicate when enough was enough, but there was a sub-sub-culture called “Gorean” with no rules, no safe words and the submissive gave their entire selves over to their master. And that’s the kind that John liked.
That’s also apparently what Alecia Cox liked.
By day, she was city receptionist with a daughter and big dreams to become a radio personality. But at night, she wanted something a little more dangerous and posted an ad in an alternative magazine called “Pitch Weekly”. The ad said, “Straight Black Female, looking for mature male to take care of me --- I’ll take care of you.”
Robinson answered this ad and their agreement consisted of him paying her $2,000 a month. In exchange, he wanted her available for sex whenever he pleased. While she was a good submissive, she wasn’t an idiot and she wouldn’t take a whole lot of shit outside the bedroom.
They were together for a few years and at one point John gave her a ring and asked her to marry him. Alecia agreed and later asked her new fiance, if he could use his influence to help her break into the radio world. Instead, John convinced her to travel overseas on business with him, to places like London, Paris and Australia.
Alecia gave up her apartment for this big international trip and was put up in a Best Western Hotel. Their departure date kept changing, however. John asked her to write out her signature with the same excuse as the other women, like Lisa Stasi and Beverly Bonner had heard; They would be too busy to write to their family.
The night before the two were set to leave, John showed up with a truck and a trailer. There was some clothing in the bed of the truck which seemed odd to Alecia since she had given up damn near everything to go on this trip.
The two went to sleep and in the morning Alecia was the one who woke up first.
She woke up John, which angered the hell out of him. Annoyed, John took a shower, got dressed and left to run errands telling her to meet him at a restaurant later that morning to finalize any other plans needed for their trip. But when Alecia got there, John never showed and when she tried to call him to find out what was going on, he never answered.
Unbeknownst to Alecia, her life was saved by waking up early. Yeah, she didn’t have a place to live or a job, but wow what a close call.
A few months later, Alecia went back to John, after answering one of his ads in the paper. By the summer of 1999, the two drifted apart as John had other women he was seeing online.
He wasn’t just shopping around locally, he had gone national, even international.
Dozens of women, who knew nothing of each other and very little about the farmer from Kansas, but were willing to sign over their lives to be with John Robinson much to his delight and amazement.
John tried to convince other women to uproot their lives and be with him in the Midwest.
One such person who almost took that bait was a woman with the screen name Lauralei. Not only did the two connect on a sexual level, but on a personal one as well. She was struck by how honest and sensitive he was, so when John asked her to take their relationship out of the virtual world she had to think about it.
While she contemplated the move, John professed that he’d met another woman online, a college student, who had come to Kansas City to be with him. She was goth, with piercings and dark clothing and nothing like John’s farmer aesthetic. He was embarrassed to be seen with this young girl and decided to send her back to Indiana where she came, but Laurelai had already lost interest.
Chapter four: Girls who disappear aren't meant to be found
But Izabela Lewicka was a true story.
Born in Poland, her family moved to Indiana in 1993. By 1997, she was 18-years-old and growing more and more interested in the BDSM community. Izabela struck up a relationship with an international book agent who wanted to hire her as a secretary while teaching her how to be a master on the side.
She took that offer and in the summer of that year decided to pack up and leave Indiana for Kansas. Once she left, communication with her family was very limited, believing they disapproved of what she was doing. For two months, they heard nothing until the emails began. Izabela’s father, didn’t believe that it was her and would write to her in Polish but most of her replies were short and distant.
Not long after coming to Kansas City, Izabela filed a marriage license with a man named John Anthony Robinson. That’s not John's full name and the birth date he gave her was also fake, but the couple never fully tied the knot. Izabela still gave her last name hyphenated as with the two and bragged about her relationship with an older man.
When the two were together though, John introduced Izabela as an adopted daughter or a distant cousin. While they weren’t married, they did have a slave contract with more than 100 provisions attached to it and in return John kept her financially afloat.
Izabela eventually began to meet other people in town as John was too preoccupied in-person and online with other women. She later began some sort of an affair with a man named Eric Collins, who was into vampire role play.
While all this is going on, Izabela’s parents were terrified for their daughter and continued to only get vague, and later only English, replies in their emails. In the fall of 1999, Izabela told her parents that she was never coming home. She also told, in person, a friend of hers that she was moving away.
It wasn't long until the goth girl, who was seen with John Robinson, was no longer around.
Those who asked John about it were told that she was caught smoking marijuana and was deported. Even Nancy Robinson noticed her absence since she worked for John. There were fears that John would leave her for this younger, outlandish girl, but that was never the case.
Nancy was truly John’s anchor and by this time in his life, John was in his mid-50’s, balding, fatter, with graying hair and was just overall a bland man. He was still was extremely active on the internet with all five of his computers that never slowed down for a second.
Around the same time that Izabela disappeared another woman joined John in real life named Suzette Trouton. She and John met in a chatroom in the spring of 1999.
They talked regularly, not just about sex, but employment and financial hardships. It was around this time that John, known to her as JR or Slavemaster, asked Suzette if she’d be willing to move to Kansas City and take care of his father in poor health named Papa John.
But Suzette wasn’t just friends online with JR. She was also friends with so-called Lore Remington and Tammy Taylor, two women who Suzette befriended in chatrooms on a BDSM website. Lore and Suzette even had a sexual, in-person relationship at one point.
Their friendship remained strong, so when Suzette explained in February 2000 that she was packing up her things and her two dogs to be with JR, her friends advised her not to do it saying she shouldn’t mix business with pleasure.
She ignored them and when she arrived in Kansas City around Valentine’s day, things were rocky. The job John promised her didn’t happen and the apartment was non-existent. He promised her a car that was also never fulfilled and she was put up in an extended-stay hotel.
Every now and again "JR" showed up asking for sexual favors or to take dirty pictures of her. Whatever he wanted, she obliged.
As weeks went by and nothing happened, Suzette wondered if she had made a mistake by moving. She was totally alone, her dogs were locked up and JR was never around. Eventually, John showed and told her to prepare for her first business trip to California before setting sail to Hawaii and Australia all on his yacht.
To prepare, "JR" made Suzette sign 30 blank sheets of paper and address 40 envelopes using the same excuse as the other women: they would have no time to write to their families.
When the two weren’t preparing for the trip, John brought a video camera and recorded an extremely graphic sexual encounter between the two of them. At the end of that tape, which a jury would later see, was an ironic moment. Right at the end, the footage cut from a shot from the hotel room to a clip from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. From Slavemaster, to doting grandfather…
March 1 was the last time Lore Remington, Suzette’s online friend, spoke to her friend. Just before noon, John picked up Suzette’s dog from the kennel they were placed in and stopped at the “NeedMor” storage facility in Olathe, Kansas. He dropped some things off and then returned to his mobile home park, abandoning Suzette’s dogs.
A day later, John reassembled Suzette’s computer that she tore down when she was leaving for her “trip.” Days later, John, under Suzette’s accounts began to message her mother. Thankfully, Carol Trouten knew her daughter. She knew her daughter sucked at typing and had a gut feeling something was off.
Chapter five: Running from dogs and police
Weeks later, getting no responses from her daughter, Carol became concerned and contacted police in Kansas. A detective told Carol to hold onto emails she had gotten from Suzette. Carol also brought up the fact that Suzette never left anywhere without her dogs and if they weren’t with her there was a huge problem.
That detail peaked an officer’s curiosity who later searched if any dogs had recently been adopted in the area.
Dan and Vicki Wagner did and police went to see if the dogs were one of Suzette's. When officers called the name Tara, which the new owners named her, the dog didn’t respond but when they tried the name Pika the dog came running. Officers were certain they found one of Suzette's dogs and would later find the second but where was Suzette?
Carol had a clue, something that none of the other victims families had before. Suzette gave her mom Robinson’s home phone, cell phone and pager number before she left to live near him. When Carol contacted him, John Robinson was stunned and caught off guard. He quickly recovered and told Carol that Suzette didn’t take his job offer and was sailing around the world with Jim Turner. Carol wasn't happy with his answer and continued to work with police.
So were Lore Remington and Tammy Taylor, Suzette Trouton's online friends. The two took it upon themselves to talk to Robinson and tried to get him to make a mistake. It was the first time police were using the help of civilians, who were way more tech savvy than them, to hunt down a potential killer.
It was a strategy Stephen Haymes had been using long before these women had stepped up.
A task force reached out to Haymes to speak about his investigation on Robinson during the 1980’s, but for him, it was a shock to his system to hear the new crimes that Robinson had been accused of. He was also impressed with the size and force of the task force.
Some of those assigned to this case not only talked to those related to or acquaintances to Suzette, but met face-to-face with her internet friends. Those, like Lore, gave investigators a crash course in, not only the World Wide Web and its dark and dirty corners, but the lingo of the BDSM culture. As you can imagine, it was a LOT to take in.
The County’s District Attorney in Missouri, Paul Morrison, launched an official investigation in March of 2000.
John recognized early on that this case was nothing like those he had seen before. He was aware that John was accused in the disappearances of Lisa Stasi, Paula Godfrey and Catherine Clampitt and that John was luring women from the internet. They knew he had slipped through the cracks so many times before, so Morrison’s main mission, other than getting John Robinson off the streets, was to make sure new charges stuck.
At the same time, Lore was continuing to talk to John online holding onto hope that Suzette was still alive. Maybe she had been sold to the International Council or Masters...
Robinson had no clue Lore was working with police or anything else that was going on right under his nose. He had no idea that police were now following his every movement and didn’t know police were watching his home seven days a week. He didn’t recognize that some investigators pretended to sunbathe in his neighbor's yard, climbed light poles outside storage facilities, worked with garbage collectors and so much more just to try and catch him.
But they needed something else, someone to contact John.
Chapter six: Sex toys and the last act
In April 2000, John found Vicki Neufeld through an ad on a BDSM website. She lost her job a month prior and was looking for someone to financially support her. "JR" was that man and told her he was part of an elite group of dominants.
Vicki was impressed and when she asked for help with finding a job he happily obliged. They decided to meet after John wired her $100 to make the trip to Kansas City from Texas. She traveled 700 miles with the hope of meeting John that day but he never showed. He did get her a room at the Extended Stay Hotel which tipped off investigators. She checked into room 120 which was John’s regular room.
So in room 120 Neufeld sat and in adjoining rooms was the Lexena Police.
The next day, John showed up an hour late explaining he had just arrived back from being out of town. Damn near out of the gate, John wanted Vicki to sign a slave contract but she was hesitant. Vicki signed it after some edits to it, including a point that if the relationship didn’t go the way she wanted it to she could back out and John couldn’t throw her out into the streets.
The ink wasn’t even dry when Robinson wanted to get down to other business.
He claimed he wanted to see if they had sexual chemistry but it didn’t last long, and when it was over John quickly dressed himself. Before he did, he threw a large bag down and filled with some heavy duty sex toys. The next day, when John arrived an hour late, he asked if anything interested her from the bag. He undressed himself, asked her to take off her clothes and put on some spiked heels.
She was uncomfortable and voiced that to John all while standing there in jeans and a sweater. Her inaction angered him and fear set in for Vicki. John began to remove her clothes, slapped a leather collar around her neck, handcuffed her and began taking pictures of her. When she threatened to leave and go back to Texas he stopped and they argued before he left.
Vicki later called and apologized and the next day John came over again. While performing oral sex on him, he slapped her harder than she had ever been slapped before. She was angry but before he left they seemed fine and John made arrangements for her to go back to Texas, pack up her things and make the big move.
Her anger turned to rage when John left. He took a bag of her sex toys telling her that she didn’t need them anymore but they were all gifts, held sentimental value and were worth $700.
It was a bad idea for John to cross Vicki in this manner, but there was another mistake he made on his way out. He dropped the slave contract into the trash which employees with the Extended Stay Hotel handed to police.
A week after returning home from Texas, she waited for John to call her about a potential van she could use to haul her belongings up to the Midwest. When he didn’t call her she was pissed and called his work phone demanding her belongings be returned to her. He continued to dodge her and had every excuse in the book not to talk to her.
When she was ready to break off all communication with John, she wanted her sex toys back before being completely done. If he didn’t return them, she threatened to call the police but he threatened her back. John said if he continued to pester him about the toys, he’d turn her in to the professional association of licensed psychologists in Texas and show them the photos he had taken from her.
She backed off for a bit but decided later to called police. Little did she know, police knew about her and John. The threat to his capture was imminent as all sides started closing in but he still had no clue.
In May 2000, Jeanne made arrangements with Robinson to stay at the Extended Stay Hotel, Room 120, the same room Vicki had stayed in a few months prior. Just like Vicki as well, Jeanne met Robinson when he answered her ad online. The day after the meeting, Jeanne and John had sex but only after a severe beating because she wasn’t naked and kneeling on the floor when he arrived.
He immediately left and didn’t come back the whole weekend. On Monday, he returned asking for her social security card, to close her bank accounts and to get everything ready to move to Kansas City by Mother’s Day weekend. While she was fearful, Jeanne did everything John asked of her.
When she arrived, the sex again was brutal in nature. John hit her hard across her breasts, took pictures of the damage he caused and once again immediately left once it was all over. It was then that Jeanne knew their relationship was going nowhere. So after he left the last time she went to the hotel lobby in tears and asked the clerk for help. Detectives later arrived and listened to her story. Since they weren't sure if Robinson would return, they put Jeanne in a safe house.
Investigators thought this has to be it. All the information collected from March until May had to make the district attorney ready to announce charges, but he wasn’t.
Memorial Day weekend came and the task force again asked if Paul Morrison ready to arrest John Robinson. He wasn't.
It was around this time detectives learned John Robinson had met a 17-year-old, who had just given birth. The woman, and her infant, were living in their car when John found them. John promised her that if she became his mistress, he’d take care of both of them. Sound familiar?
Police believed it was one thing for John Robinson to lure women and have violent sex with them, but it was another to go after a young, new mother and her infant.
On June 1, 2000, District Attorney Paul Morrison began to draw up the papers for an arrest warrant for John Robinson. At 10 a.m. the next day, police quietly arrived at the Robinson property. Nearly a dozen unmarked squad cars surrounded the place.
While John Robinson was stuck in his head, figuring out all the things he needed to do to manage the women in his life, he opened his front door to find officers standing there with a warrant in hand.
Officers read the charges against him, cuffed him and lead him out into their squad car.
But now, officers had another task at hand... finding hard evidence.
More on that in Part 3 on John Robinson, also known as the Internet’s first serial killer.
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