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Lovers' bond may have turned to lethal motive


© St. Petersburg Times, published July 8, 1998

TAMPA -- Valessa Robinson and Adam Davis told police two months ago that nothing would keep them apart.

Prosecutors are expected to tell a Hillsborough grand jury today that the two were so determined to stay together that they murdered Valessa's mother, who planned to send her rebellious daughter to a Christian boarding school.

The state is scheduled to seek a first-degree murder indictment against Robinson, 15, her boyfriend, Davis, 19, and their friend Jon Whispel, 19, all accused of using a syringe and a knife to kill Valessa's mother Vicki Robinson at her Carrollwood home June 27.

Robinson, a 49-year-old real estate agent known for her sunny disposition and deep religious beliefs, was repeatedly stabbed. Although a syringe was used in the attack, Robinson died from a stab wound, authorities said. Her body was left for days in woods a few miles from her house while the threesome hung around town and then fled the state in her stolen minivan.

The motive likely to emerge at trial: Valessa did not want to give up her boyfriend, a felon nicknamed Rattlesnake who sported a pierced eyebrow and several tattoos, authorities say.

"They were pretty much determined they were not going to be separated," said Tampa homicide prosecutor Shirley Williams. They said as much to a Tampa police officer who investigated a complaint that Valessa had briefly run away with Davis in May, she said.

"They told him no matter what, they were not going to be separated," Williams said.

Robinson, who friends say struggled to keep her daughter on the right path and prayed for her in church, also had hoped to send Valessa to a school for troubled children, family members said.

After Valessa, Davis and Whispel were captured by deputies July 2 in west Texas, each made incriminating statements, authorities said. While Valessa was brought to Tampa last week, authorities are still working to bring Davis and Whispel back. Hillsborough sheriff's Maj. Gary Terry would not disclose when they would arrive, citing security concerns.

Prosecutors said they are seriously considering whether to ask for the death penalty if Whispel and Davis are convicted of first-degree murder. Because of her age, Valessa faces life in prison without possibility of release if she is found guilty as charged.

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