Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Darren O'Neall

Searching for Robin

In the face of growing adversity and doubt, Edna did not give up in the search for Robin.  In near desperation, she consulted a known psychic in the area who agreed to help her free of charge.  The psychic soon directed Edna to the Greenwater area near Mount Rainier, and said that Robin was in or near an area where there was running or dripping water.  It was becoming more difficult for Edna to talk about Robin's disappearance and about what she now suspected had happened, just as it had become difficult for the rest of the family to organize a search for what they did not want to find.  More than 50  people volunteered to search for Robin despite an overnight snowfall and despite the overwhelming odds against finding her in the vast wilderness where they believed her body had been dumped.  Robin's sister, Brenda Baker, five months pregnant, and Robert, her brother, were among the searchers who had volunteered to help a determined mother find out what had happened to Robin.

Greenwater area near Mt. Rainier (Gary C. King)
Greenwater area near Mt. Rainier
(Gary C. King)

At the end of the first day's search effort there was still no sign of Robin, but signs of the family's hope were seen by yellow ribbons tied to the branches of trees, ribbons marking the places where Robin was not found to keep the searchers from covering the same spots twice.  For Edna and her family, no sign of Robin meant that she still could be alive.  They continued to cling to that belief and to what the psychic told them:  that Robin was near dripping or running water.

"She could still be alive," said Edna tearfully.  "She (the psychic) said that it's very possible that the feeling that she gets, which is total peace, could mean that Robin could be in a coma.  Or she could be so drugged up that she can't respond to anything. But the other possibility is that she could be dead."

Police theorized that if Robin was still alive, she had lost a great deal of blood judging by the carnage found in the trunk of O'Neall's car and that each night that she spent in the mountains, if that was indeed where she was, lessened the chance that she would be found alive.

Although they didn't realize it until later, Edna and her family had come within a few yards of finding Robin's remains during one of the searches, which were being consumed and scattered by coyotes and other animals.  When they reflected on it later, they were grateful that they hadn't discovered her in that condition.

Edna and members of her family, as well as family friend Jim Chaney, made the drive daily to the Greenwater area for the next two months and continued to search the vast forests and mountainous terrain for Robin.  But there was no sign of a body and no sign of a suspect, a suspect who was by now considered by everyone involved as an outlaw as elusive as his fantasy of the west.  Police did not yet believe that O'Neall's trail had gone cold—they said that it simply did not exist.  All they knew for certain was that he was out there, somewhere.