A mother, a daughter, a murder
  

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The Great Divide

    


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[Times photo: Jamie Francis]
Crowds on Seventh Avenue in Ybor City on a typical Friday night in November 1999. While the police searched for Valessa Robinson that weekend in June 1998, she and her friends were barely 10 miles away.

photo A surveillance camera in a Tampa convenience store captured Adam Davis showing off a new tattoo to a clerk the morning of Monday, June 29, 1998. Jon Whispel watched. Twenty-four hours later, the teenagers would flee Tampa.

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[Times photo:Tony Lopez]
Adam Davis: The boy whose mother had abandoned him when he was a baby had an arrest record but could be polite, even charming. “The only thing I want to do,” he once said, “is settle down in a normal home and be like my father.”
[Times photo:Tony Lopez]
Valessa Robinson: In a research project on teens, she told an interviewer that her mother “wants me to become a prep. She told me that, like, three different times. And I was like, well, that’s not who I am . . . I’m a Valessa.”
[Times photo:Tony Lopez]
Jon Whispel: In recent years, his life had been full of setbacks. He dropped out of Jefferson High School two weeks before graduation, his parents had divorced, and his mother had been stricken with cancer.

photo In February 1997, with Vicki Robinson’s favorite flowers — white roses — behind them, Jim Englert and Vicki celebrate their first Valentine’s Day together. They had met through a Christian group called Single Purpose. Vicki’s mother, Donna Klug, took the photo.

[Photo courtesy of Jim Englert]


The view from Interstate 10 as it crosses Pensacola Bay. Adam kept the minivan’s cruise control on 75, and all three of them wore their seat belts, not wanting to invite the attention of a trooper.

[Times photo: Jamie Francis]


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A video camera in a police cruiser captured the arrest of the three teenagers on a stretch of Interstate 10 in Pecos County, Texas, on July 2. With both of its rear tires shot out, the Nissan Quest minivan spins off the interstate after a chase in which speeds reached 130 mph.

It was a point of pride with Sheriff Bruce Wilson of Pecos County, Texas, and his deputies to not allow suspects from other jurisdictions to slide past them on Interstate 10. In July 1998, Wilson had been reading bulletins about the search for Vicki Robinson’s daughter and the two young men in the minivan. He knew they were coming his way.
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[Times photo: Jamie Francis]

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After their arrest, the teenagers were ordered to the ground, handcuffed behind their backs and then taken away in separate cruisers.

  
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