Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

John E. Robinson, Sr.: The Slavemaster

Cruel Intentions

Though I am not splenitive and rash,

Yet have I something in me dangerous.

Hamlet. Act v. Sc. 1.

In the end, picking the wrong sex partner brought the downfall of John E. Robinson, Sr., and exposed one of the most bizarre and lengthy homicidal careers in American criminal history.

The Midwestern serial killer, whose brutal treatment of his sometimes willing victims stands in stark contrast to his benign, fleshy appearance, sits on death row in Kansas facing execution for two murders (and a life sentence for a third). The 59-year-old grandfather also admitted to five slayings in Missouri, which accepted the guilty pleas in return for taking a pass on the chance to execute him.

Robinson compounded his murderous ways by taking the infant of one victim and selling it to his brother, pretending to be a do-good adoption broker. He seduced vulnerable or lonely women he met through Internet chat rooms and killed them, continuing to cash their government checks or alimony payments for years with just minimal interference from their desperate families and frustrated investigators.

As Robinson's case winds its way through the long appeals process, his family is left to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives. Examining the past for missed clues that could have tipped them to his shocking behavior, they must come to grips with the idea that the man they thought was a doting, loving grandfather was secretly an influential member of a clandestine bondage and sadomasochistic network who seduced and victimized women he met online.

The lucky victims walked away with mental and physical scars. The unlucky ones ended up dead, left to rot in sealed chemical drums. Still others simply disappeared into thin air like the clouds of dust that blow across the prairies on the Missouri-Kansas border.

John Robinson
John Robinson

Robinson was no stranger to Kansas and Missouri law enforcement when he was finally arrested in the early summer of 2000. He had long been suspected in the disappearances of women in and around the Kansas City area, but had managed to stay a half-step ahead of justice using his charm and wits. When he crossed the line with a pair of women he met through his BDSM network and they filed complaints with Kansas police, Robinson finally made a mistake that gave authorities the chance they needed to stop his murderous ways. But even the police who had already tapped his phone, listened through the walls as he engaged in his preferred brand of rough sex, and followed him around while he visited his numerous paramours were not prepared for what they found when they peeled back the layers of Robinsons personality and peered underneath.

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