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Valessa's lifestyle worried Robinson

Court records gives details of her death and the hunt for the suspects, including her daughter.

By SUE CARLTON and ANGELA MOORE

© St. Petersburg Times, published August 14, 1998


TAMPA -- Desperate to turn around a teenage daughter growing wilder by the day, Vicki Robinson poured out her problems in an application to a home for troubled girls.

Valessa, 14, was running away, being defiant, using drugs, even talking of having a baby with her criminal boyfriend.

"I really have no control over her," wrote Mrs. Robinson, a deeply religious woman raising her family in Carrollwood.

Those words would foreshadow the brutal attack investigators say she suffered weeks later at the hands of her daughter, her daughter's boyfriend and their teenage buddy.

Dressed in a nightgown, her gold crucifix still around her neck, Mrs. Robinson's body was found last month in a plastic garbage can partially hidden in the woods, a fatal stab wound to her neck.

Court records released Thursday detailed an investigation that tracked Valessa, her boyfriend Adam "Rattlesnake" Davis, 19, and their friend, Jon Whispel, 19, halfway across the country in Mrs. Robinson's minivan before they were captured and charged with murder.

Those details include a mother's fear that her daughter was pregnant, inconclusive evidence as to whether Mrs. Robinson had been injected with bleach before her death and an obsessive relationship between two teens.

In a poem titled Tear Drops found in the van, Valessa wrote of her relationship with Davis.

"Never again will I keep my thoughts inside/For you and I should have nothing to hide"

"What you did was really clever/Now hopefully we'll be together forever"

From his jail cell, Davis wrote to her of the future.

"When it's all over, me and you can get married and the three of us can live together and be happy once more," wrote Davis, who along with Whispel is facing the death penalty.

Before the killing, the relationship between mother and daughter had been more than rocky. A prosecutor said there was evidence Mrs. Robinson had been taking Valessa for pregnancy tests and a co-worker said that shortly before her death Mrs. Robinson believed her daughter was pregnant. She planned to put Valessa in the live-in school in July.

On the night of June 26, the three teens were at the Robinsons' Carrollwood home. A friend said that at a party that night he overheard Davis ask about getting heroin and needles to kill someone.

Besides the fatal neck wound, Mrs. Robinson suffered a superficial wound to her chest and three possible stabs to the lower back. There were no wounds to indicate she had been able to try to defend herself.

Investigators found small spots of what appeared to be blood at the base of the oven and also took hair from the kitchen floor. Among other items, a half-gallon bottle of Kash "n Karry bleach was taken from the house.

According to a medical examiner's report, a specific test on whether she had been injected with bleach could not be performed, possibly because of the decomposition of the body when it was found nearly a week later.

In the days that followed, the three teens were seen getting tattoos in Ybor City and looking to buy drugs. A friend who admitted he sold them marijuana and 10 hits of acid said he became concerned when he saw the story of the missing mom on the news. He paged Valessa. He said Davis told him there was nothing to it and they were headed to Arizona.

Mrs. Robinson's ATM card traced their path to gas stations in Florida and truck stops in Alabama and Mississippi. They were spotted in Pecos County, Texas, July 2. Authorities there chased the Nissan Quest minivan, but only stopped it after shooting out the tires.

Pecos County Deputy Larry Jackson said Davis, the driver, did not want to go quietly.

"The van at this time was still heading straight for me," Jackson said. "I pointed my pistol at the driver and when I did he jerked the van to his right, missing me by about 10 to 15 feet." Jackson said authorities had to punch and kick Davis to subdue him.

The three had $365 in cash. Mrs. Robinson's purse was in the van, and Davis had her ATM cards, credit cards and gas card that they had used freely.

Pecos County investigators found a marijuana pipe, a bag of marijuana and rolling papers in the van. It appeared they had been living in the van, which contained a knife, bolt cutters, a hoe, a roll of film, a Fender guitar and amplifier, a sack of fireworks and food.

Valessa told a nurse who examined her at a juvenile facility in Odessa she had done acid the day of her capture. Nurse Janet Johnson told investigators that Valessa said her parents didn't love her and didn't care about her.

Valessa's father, Chuck Robinson, divorced Valessa's mother in 1994 and lives in Missouri. Johnson also said that Valessa said she and Davis had "really screwed up this time."

Investigators say all three confessed, though those confessions were not released Thursday. All three drew maps leading detectives to the body.

Crime scene photos show a dug-up area, and then the partially secluded woods where the body was found in a trash can shielded by palmetto fronds. The body, which had been there about six days, was decomposed. From a nearby field, investigators also recovered a black trash bag, numerous towels, two shovels and a "pitchfork-type tool."

No trial date has been set.


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