We now do business, learn, and have fun in very different ways thanks to the internet. But, like many other new technologies, it also brought about brand-new cr*imes, like cyberstalking and identity theft.
In some cases, violent predators have been able to both hide and expand their activities by going online. John Edward Robinson was one of the first people to do this. He was known as the internet’s first serial k*iller because of how often and sneakily he used chat rooms, digital fraud, and catfishing.
Robinson went on a long theft and ki*lling spree that lasted many years, but no one knows how many people he actually kil*led. The internet is a strong tool that can be used for good or bad. Robinson took advantage of weak people and used it to trick, abuse, and ki*ll them.
Origins of a “Master Manipulator”
He was born in Cicero, Illinois, and grew up in a family from the working class. He lied, manipulated others, and stole a lot as a child, which were early signs of his sociopathy. He lied a lot about how well he did in school and stole from his parents and school friends.
Robinson married Nancy Jo Lynch in the end, and the two of them had four children. But John’s marriage was unstable because he had money issues, strange sexual needs, and cheated on his wife a lot. This is typical for serial ki*llers.
Robinson changed jobs a lot in his early “professional” years. He got many of them by lying about his credentials. He cheated and stole from many businesses, but his lies were so convincing that he was given the “Man of the Year” award at a banquet in 1977 for his work in the local business community. It was clear that Robinson had lied about everything for which he was praised.
Robinson, like other early adopters in the 1980s, saw the potential of the internet. He used the new technology to find people who might fall for his scams.
His first scams involved hydroponics and a fake medical practice. He got the money by stealing $25,000 from a friend whose dying wife needed medical care badly. When Vanity Fair found out about the scheme, they called Robinson “a pathological thief dodging easily through the system.”
He started calling himself the “Slavemaster” of a secret BDSM group called the International Council of Masters and making sexual advances toward the wives of his neighbors around this time. The group’s goal was allegedly to torture and rape.
And all of this was hidden behind a carefully crafted appearance—he looked like a family man who went to church, but he was really a “master manipulator.”
Tony Rizzo, who used to work as a reporter for the Kansas City Star, said, “He didn’t look dangerous.” He looked like a nice, grandfatherly kind of guy. He looked like he could be the drugstore cashier.
Mark Morris, who used to be a reporter too, said, “He had this long professional life as this con man…” Theft of stamps or money from a potato chip company in Liberty was something he did, Morris said. “If there was a way to con somebody, John E. Robinson had already thought it through.”
Sed*uce and Ki*ll
John Robinson used fake companies, identities, and stories to get vulnerable women to fall for his scams. He then made promises of high-paying jobs and relationships and kept them. He made up these lies to get women to come to his hometown and stay there with him so he could control, abuse, and eventually k*ill them.
Robinson ki*lled Paula Godfrey for the first time in 1984. In order to get a job with one of his fake businesses, she called it “Intellectual Union” and told her family and friends that she would be trained and then hired as a sales representative. After that, she was gone.
“Her father talked to John Robinson about it, and Robinson told him, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about.'”
After a few days, Paula’s parents started getting typed letters that seemed to be from their daughter. In them, she said she was “OK” and told them not to worry about her.
At first, the police said the person had just “voluntarily” disappeared.
After three months, around Christmas 1984, Robinson began a fake non-profit organization he called the Kansas City Outreach Program. He went to shelters and hospitals looking for his next victim, saying he was helping young women who were pregnant or who had just given birth. This person would then give a child to a desperate couple Robinson was scamming in an adoption scheme.
Soon after, 19-year-old Lisa Stasi and her four-month-old daughter Tiffany went missing. Robinson had checked them into the Rodeway Inn hotel, and right before she disappeared, she called her family all upset and said she had to sign some papers.
Lisa Stasi’s mother-in-law, Betty Stasi, said in an interview:
I told them, ‘Don’t sign anything.'” She was crying all the time, but then she calmed down and said, “Here they come now.” She then hung up. That was the last time I heard from her.
Robinson was strongly suspected of having something to do with Lisa’s disappearance and the fact that her child couldn’t be found (Robinson had buried them), but the police couldn’t link him to the crimes.
Like Paula Godfrey’s parents, Lisa’s family got letters that were typed and said they were from the victim. A letter was also sent to Cathy Stackpole, who used to run the shelter where Lisa and Tiffany Stasi stayed. It said, in part:
“Thank you very much for all your help. I’ve chosen to leave this area and make a better life for myself and Tiffany.
Robinson worked on getting better at murder, fraud, and se*duction for another ten years while he went on k*illing sprees. He talked to possible victims under different names and recruited unwitting helpers, like his brother and sister-in-law, who took Tiffany in as their own child without knowing it. The video above tells the story of Tiffany Stasi.
Robinson was finally caught by the police, but not for the murders but for financial cri*mes. In the end, he got six years in prison. While he was there, he had access to computers and was able to write to women from other countries.
Robinson’s Sick World Collapses
On June 2, 2000, Robinson tried to get another woman to come to his farm in Kansas, but he was caught and charged with sexual battery and theft of sex toys. The police were then able to link him to several women who went missing.
After carrying out search warrants, police found two 85-pound chemical drums that contained the bodies of two women, later identified as Izabela Lewicka and Suzette Trouten.
Three more women’s bodies were found in storage units by investigators. Robinson’s sick world fell apart as police learned how bad he really was. He wasn’t just a liar and thief; he was also a sadistic k*iller who picked out his victims in bondage chat rooms.
Each of the three women died from being hit in the head with something, possibly a hammer. This was found out during an autopsy.
Police thought Robinson tricked his victims into giving him $1 million and then ki*lled them. John Robinson was sentenced to death in 2003 for k*illing three women and was given a life sentence without the chance of parole for ki*lling five other women. He is in jail at the El Dorado Correctional Facility in Kansas right now.
Robinson’s wife ended their 41-year marriage and filed for divorce after his sick mind was made public, just like most serial kil*lers’ wives do.
The John Robinson case shows the bad side of the internet and how people use it. If you meet someone you don’t know, you should always be careful because they might be trying to hurt you.
Christopher Berry-Dee, a cri*minologist and true cr*ime author from the UK, says there are many men like Robinson who enter online chatrooms “as someone else,” like a businessman, to get “lonely women back to his place” for something bad.
“People don’t give the internet enough credit.” “Predators use it as a trawling hunting ground,” Berry-Dee said. “It goes back a long time, whether it’s con artists or men who seek out women who are lonely.”
The “Want-Ad serial ki*ller” Harvey Carignan and the “Lonely Hearts K*illers,” Raymond Martinez Fernandez and Martha Jule Beck, lived before dating apps, he says.
Berry-Dee says that even though the hunting ground has changed, the way things are usually done stays the same.
“The internet is just an addition to that; it hasn’t changed.” It’s just that the way it’s done now is electronically… They know where the prey they want to catch swims in shoals; they just have to watch and wait. Then they’ll pick the weaker animal in the group or the one that has left or is waiting while walking to a taxi in the rain.