Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

John E. Robinson, Sr.: The Slavemaster

Robinson's Women

The authorities tracked Lisa to John Robinson, who said she left the program and headed west with a man named Bill. He produced a witness who said Lisa stayed with her the night before she left and later, Betty Stasi received a suspicious typewritten letter with Lisa's signature that said she was leaving to start a new life. With nothing left to go on and nothing but suspicions and knowledge of Robinson's reputation, law enforcement officials were stymied.

The police had jumped on the missing persons report with gusto because Robinson's name had surfaced a few months earlier in connection with another, similar disappearance.

Paula Godfrey, victim
Paula Godfrey, victim

Paula Godfrey, an Olathe, Kansas teen, took a job with one of Robinson's many do-nothing corporations and told friends and family she was excited about the opportunities he had offered her. He was sending her away for training, she told them as she left home in 1984. Her family became worried and contacted police. Several days after filing a missing persons report, authorities received a typewritten letter with Paula's signature.

Robinson had allegedly hired her to be a sales representative," wrote Steve Haymes, Robinson's Missouri probation officer in a log he kept on John Robinson. "The Overland Park Police Department later received a letter from this girl stating that she was thankful for John Robinsons help and that she was OK, and that she did not want to see her family.

As the girl was of age and there was no evidence of wrongdoing, Overland Park terminated their (missing-person) investigation.

No trace of Paula Godfrey has ever been found.

With the FBI looking into Robinson for a suspected violation of the federal Mann Act -- colloquially called the "White Slave Act" -- by transporting Lisa and Tiffany Stasi across state lines and state authorities in Missouri and Kansas looking into his activities on a local level connected to the disappearance of Godfrey, it was obvious to Haymes that Robinson's probation needed to be reevaluated. The probe was pushed by Haymes, who wondered whether Robinson had escalated his crimes from cons and theft to murder and baby selling. It revealed that John was heavily involved in the Kansas City underground sex industry and probably ran a string of prostitutes specializing in domination and submission sex practices.

The feds sent a female agent undercover to meet with "JR", as he was known in the sex business, and he promised the agent that she could easily make more than $1,000 a night by entertaining his clients if she could tolerate pain. He wanted her to take a trip with him, and, suspecting that the agent's life was in danger, the FBI pulled her from the assignment.

Armed with evidence from the FBI's look into Robinson's activities and a separate investigation into a theft complaint lodged by a company that contracted with Robinson to promote its seminars, Haymes initiated a probation violation action in Missouri. He said later that if the authorities couldn't get Robinson on the disappearances, they would put him away for his other actions.

A key witness in the probation violation case was a prostitute and mistress of Robinson's, 21-year-old Teresa. Teresa, who lived in an apartment Robinson rented, received drugs and money in return for her service as a prostitute for Robinson's clients. She was also most likely Robinson's next victim. He was using her to discredit an ex-convict pal who was cooperating with police in the revocation proceedings against Robinson. JR ordered Teresa to begin writing a "diary" that he dictated, implicating the ex-con in a number of schemes. He also had her sign blank papers and draft a letter to Robinson's attorney giving the lawyer the authority to recover the diary from a safe deposit box in the event she disappeared. The last entry in the diary was meant to be the same day that Robinson and Teresa were leaving for the Bahamas -- a trip police suspected Robinson was never going to make with her.

"It appears that he has continued to use people to his own end, including Theresa, with whom there is concern for her safety," Haymes wrote in a June 1985 probation report. The state revoked Robinson's parole and for the first time, he spent a significant period of time behind bars.

One of the more disturbing pieces of evidence Theresa provided was a story of how Robinson, displeased with the way Theresa had performed with an important client, burst into the apartment and jammed the barrel of a loaded gun into her vagina while threatening her life.

Police removed Teresa from the apartment and hid her from Robinson, a mistake that would eventually result in Robinson's parole violation being overturned by an appeals court. By keeping Robinson's attorney from cross-examining her for his defense, the police violated Robinson's right to face an accuser.

John Robinson went to prison in 1987 in Missouri, where he was held until the appeals court overturned the probation revocation order. He was almost immediately sent to prison in Kansas for a theft conviction and remained behind bars until 1993. The effect on his family was what one would expect. They lost their expensive suburban home and Nancy took a job managing the mobile home park where they lived.

In the corrections system, Robinson continued to lie and use his skills to hoodwink prison officials and ingratiate himself with a future victim, a prison librarian.

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