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Search on for mother, daughter who dropped out of sight Friday

By AMY HERDY

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 30, 1998


CARROLLWOOD -- For the last several months, Vicki Robinson's life seemed to be coming together, friends said.

The 49-year-old divorced mother of two had a solid relationship with a boyfriend, a good job selling homes and involvement with a church.

The only cloud, friends and co-workers say, was her stormy relationship with her youngest daughter, 15-year-old Valessa Robinson.

Now Hillsborough County sheriff's deputies say both mother and daughter have been missing since Friday night under what they call suspicious circumstances.

"She (Vicki Robinson) had a history of being responsible," said sheriff's Lt. Greg Brown. "We have not ruled out foul play."

Brown declined to say whether the Sheriff's Office was also searching for 19-year-old Adam Davis, Valessa's boyfriend, who failed to show up for his job at Denny's Saturday. Records show Davis has been convicted of burglary, armed trespassing and grand theft, and that he is currently awaiting trial in Hillsborough County on child abuse charges.

Robinson had confided in co-workers at Re/Max Realty in Carrollwood of her unease with Davis, as well as problems with Valessa that included truancy, drugs and running away, said Becky Eckley, Robinson's boss. Eckley and other co-workers described Robinson as a warm, cheerful woman who was at a loss how to handle her youngest daughter.

"She gave her tough love, good love -- nothing worked," Eckley said.

Eckley said Robinson was a dependable employee who missed several appointments without notice Saturday, leading worried co-workers to distribute fliers about her disappearance.

Vicki Robinson's boyfriend of two years, 45-year-old Jim Englert of Safety Harbor, said Robinson and Valessa had been in counseling and that Robinson had recently decided to get additional help for her daughter. An older daughter was staying with her father in Missouri, Englert said.

He described Valessa as stubborn and willful.

"She thinks she can do anything she wants and that her mother can't do anything about it," he said.

Englert said he reported Robinson missing to sheriff's deputies Saturday after she failed to call him for a planned trip to the beach.

Englert said he last saw Robinson Friday night about 11:30 p.m. at her home at 4221 Cartnal Ave. in Carrollwood Village. He said he left shortly after Valessa, Davis and a friend of Davis' arrived.

* * *

Now, Englert said, all four of them have disappeared, as well as Robinson's blue-green 1994 Nissan Quest minivan, with the Florida tag VUA 05U.

"Wherever they are, I'm sure they're scared, afraid," Englert said. "I'd like to say that I believe everyone wants them back safe and sound."

Sheriff's officials asked that anyone with information call 247-8201 or Crime Stoppers at 800-873-8477.


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