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Dead Men Talking
The World's Worst Killers in Their Own Words
By Christopher Berry-Dee
John Blake Publishing LtdCopyright © 2009 Christopher Berry-Dee
All rights reserved.
JOHN EDWARD ROBINSON
The following account of John 'JR' Robinson's career of crime and murder offers the reader, and student of criminology, a unique and remarkable insight into the warped and perverted mind of a true, blue-chip sociopath and sado-sexual serial killer.
This chapter should also provide psychologists, psychiatrists and law enforcement with food for thought for it clearly illustrates how even the most intransigent of mentally entrenched psychopaths can be easily manipulated into exposing the deepest workings of their clearly dysfunctional minds. And as this chapter draws to a close, you might consider how Robinson will react when he reads this book and discovers that it is he, the master manipulator, who has been hoodwinked. My bet is that he'll hit the roof.
* * *
Those unfortunate enough to be invited into John Robinson's world soon found out that it was not one of refined elegance and gentle self-indulgence, as he would have us believe. Instead its epicentre was administered by a liar, scrounger and a cheat on the run for misrepresentation and commercially ritualised fraud. His was a world that deliberately surrounded itself with an impenetrable, pretentious and often plain misleading hypocrisy; his words churned out by a misleading snake-oil salesman who delighted in the obscure and the shadowy, the indistinct and the imprecise.
In search of metaphors even more elaborate, the two faces that this man displayed – the respectable businessman and sado-sexual serial killer – were so close together that they could be accurately described as twin cheeks of the same fat backside. This is a description which will do nothing to endear me to JR at all, for he will view me destroying his gilt-laced reputation as wicked as slaughtering a sacred cow.
Mr Robinson's over-inflated ego always had, and still does have, a front larger than any major high street department store. At face value, the façade is impressive, hinting at an honest deal to be had within. 'Integrity' shouts at one peering through the glass windows, but it is not until one steps through the door, and walks around the displays inside, that the penny drops. John Robinson, the persuasive owner of the store, is the ultimate con-artist. He is the 'quack' of old, peddling phoney medicines and selling goods at over-inflated prices. He is the purveyor of Mickey Mouse, bamboo-spring, 'Rolex' watches, passing them off as the real thing. And if you purchased an item from the JR Robinson store, and complained afterwards, would you get a refund? No way, José!
And, in a kind of warped sort of way, this is why I was attracted to JR, the ultimate I-don't-give-a-fuck merchant, a sort of homicidal Del Boy, whose history, and character, no imaginative screenplay writer could ever invent.
For me, however, the first challenge was to open up a dialogue with this heinous serial killer. He had never cooperated with an author before, or pretty well anyone else for that matter, so realistically I didn't expect him to admit to a single wrongdoing to me either. You see, JR is 'innocent', or so he now says after already admitting to five of at least eight murders that he's committed. If the truth be known, I did not even expect a reply to my initial letter either.
My second task, assuming the first mission was successful, was to discover whether there was any substance to his deep-seated claims supporting his integrity as a decent and honest man. He says he is totally innocent of all of the crimes for which he is incarcerated. He says he has been 'framed' by a crooked prosecutor and a bent judge. He says he never once used the internet to trawl for potential victims, moreover, he categorically states that he was most certainly not into BDSM, or master/slave contracts ... God forbid!
Nevertheless, I baited my hook with a cocktail of goodies that this particularly nasty little man might find attractive, then, like the ever-optimistic fisherman, I pulled back my old beachcaster and cast out the line. Then I waited, and waited, and waited some more. I guess that JR sniffed at my lure, swam around it a few times – for a few weeks to be precise – and then sniffed again. The rod tip twitched, the temptation too much for this murderous con man; they say that the easiest person to con is the con man himself. JR took the bait and ran with it ... and he ran hard. Then, like any fighting fish, once hooked, he tried to spit the barb from his mouth. The shiny lure was not all that it appeared ... all that glittered was not gold.
For a short while, I had landed one of the most twisted serial killers in criminal history. But then, like so many of these cowardly individuals faced with a difficult question or two, he flipped and flopped about, slithering back to the murky water. However, in doing so, he fell into a net from which there could be no escape, and the fascinating results of what happened are published here.
* * *
Robinson sweats hatred, the copious secretions dripping out of every pore of his ageing skin. Having pleaded guilty to a number of shocking murders to escape the death penalty, John E Robinson is now demanding $400,000 to prove his innocence. His letters, featured in this chapter, explain that if he is not funded he will use college students to publish his poetry – well, actually other people's poetry which he claims is his - to raise some of the money. The entity that is JR is a damning indictment of a sado-sexual sociopath, a social parasite who exhibits not one iota of remorse for his crimes, insulting his dead victims and their next-of-kin.
I want $400,000, although that amount may be adjusted depending on need. My attorney will control all information and distribution of funds. John E Robinson, letter to the author, 20 February 2008.
The bespectacled inmate squinting into the Olathe Police Department booking camera lens is that of a flabby faced, real estate wheeler-dealer lookalike who mortgaged his soul to the Devil. This is John Edward Robinson, a depraved sado-sex sadist who tortured and murdered women then stuffed their corpses into steel drums to rot in their own bodily juices until they were discovered by sick-to-the-stomach police.
An outwardly honest businessman, whose shady dealings and rip-offs took him to prison several times previously, John Robinson has since admitted five murders to escape the death penalty. More recently he has been charged by federal authorities for committing murder across state lines. And, my first question to him was simplicity itself:
John, can you please, please explain to me how the bodies of five women you knew very well ended up in steel barrels, three in your storage locker and two more on your land?
I received your 2 January letter. At first I was simply going to forward it to my attorney to place in the file of vultures flying overhead wanting to pick my bones for personal profit.
* * *
With several aliases, including 'Anthony Thomas' and 'James Turner', JR (as he was known to the few friends he had) was born on Monday, 27 December 1943 in Cicero, Illinois, a working-class suburb of Chicago. Today, standing 5ft 9in tall, weighing 167lb, with green eyes, he is balding with partially grey hair.
Refusing to discuss even his childhood without receiving large sums of money in return (the aforementioned $400,000 to be precise), we know from official sources that he was one of five children to devout Roman Catholic parents who raised him at 4916 West 32nd Street, two blocks north of Cicero's Sportsman's Park Race Track. His father, Henry, worked as a machinist for nearby Western Electric's 'Hawthorne Works' manufacturing complex, and, although a nice enough chap, was given to more than the occasional bout of heavy drinking. John's disciplinarian mother, Alberta, was the backbone of the family and ensured that the couple's offspring had a decent upbringing. Little else of her is known.
He [Robinson] didn't talk a great deal, but when he did talk, it was to produce an effect that he wanted. He was shrewd. He was aspiring to more than he was capable of, quite frankly.
Former Eagle Scout public relations officer, Richard Shotke. Kansas City Star, 2005.
At the age of 13, John became an 'Eagle Scout', the highest rank attainable in the programme of the Boy Scouts of America. In 1957, he was chosen as the leader of 120 Scouts who flew to London to appear before Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh, at a Royal Command Performance at the London Palladium on 18 November. Therefore, I asked JR if he could tell me a little more about this memorable experience. His reply was:
I have never discussed this with anyone before, and I will not discuss it with you now. This is very valuable information to me. Your British readers would be very interested in my appearing before the Queen. If you send me $500.00 I will give you the exclusive story, which you can sell to the media and make a lot of money.
Three days later I downloaded a press cutting of this Royal Command Performance from the internet, posted it to JR and politely declined his generous offer. I already knew that backstage JR had chatted to Judy Garland and had told British actress Gracie Fields that he planned to study for the priesthood.
With that bit of trivia out of the way, it is known that Robinson was a motivated youngster whose ability didn't match his drive. He told his peers that he was planning to become a priest and to someday work in Rome, but no one, probably not even John himself, knows whether this was what he truly wanted to do with his life or this was just his way of getting attention. Anyway, maybe the facts speak for themselves: as a freshman at Quigley Preparatory Seminary, in downtown Chicago, he was a lacklustre student and a discipline problem. He did not return to Quigley for his second year of study and it is believed that he was denied admission as a sophomore, due either to his academic or behavioural shortcomings.
After high school, in 1961, Robinson went to the Morton Junior College, in Cicero. He met Nancy Jo Lynch and they married in 1964. After 41 years of domestic purgatory, they divorced on 25 February 2005, this Latter-Day Saint Monica now aware of her philandering husband's many notable shortcomings, one of which was that he had never done an honest day's work in his life.
Initially, the Robinsons moved to Kansas City, Missouri, where he attended a trade school to learn the radiology profession. True to form, JR never finished his training but this did not prevent him from getting a job at a children's hospital where he papered the walls of his office with fake diplomas and certificates. From his lack of skills with the infant patients his colleagues suspected that he was either a fake or one of the most incompetent technicians ever to practise his craft. Although hospital staff remembered him as being a nice enough young man they knew that no way was he a certified technician. Josephine Bermel, who worked with Robinson, said that he simply couldn't cope with young patients: 'We had to teach him how to do things properly,' she said. This downright incompetence cost him his first job. He was just 21 at the time and his wife had recently given birth to their first child.
Undaunted by this setback, and using his phoney diplomas and certificates, JR soon found work as an X-ray technician at a medical practice in Kansas City. Here, he was employed by retired Brigadier General Dr Wallace Harry Graham, who for many years had been the personal White House physician to no less eminent patients than the former US President Harry S Truman and his wife, Elizabeth. Although, as Dr Graham himself told the New York Times Magazine in 1964, 'The Trumans were healthy. I felt like the country's most disemployed doctor.'
In the spring of 1944, as a member of the First Hospital Unit of the First Army, Captain (later Colonel) Wallace Graham had waded ashore at 'Easy Red' Omaha Beach, four days after D-Day. With the battle raging just a few miles ahead, he treated the wounded in the thick of battle and, by nightfall, his tents, with 400 beds, had taken in close to 900 of the wounded. Moving across France and Belgium, then into Germany, his unit saw some of the war's bitterest engagements, including the Battle of the Bulge, where he was wounded. He was awarded the Bronze Star, and other decorations, as well as medals from France, Britain, the Netherlands and Belgium.
While in the White House, where he had a ground floor suite of offices filled with the latest in medical technology, he also treated some of the senior staffers, and later became a temporary Major General of the Air Force. He continued to look after the Trumans in their hometown of Independence, Missouri. When the 70-year-old President was rushed to Kansas City Hospital for emergency surgery in 1954, it was Dr Graham who removed his gallbladder and appendix. He had earned his medical degree at Harvard Medical School. He developed a lifelong interest in botany and also boxed. It seems that the doctor's only misjudgement throughout his entire, distinguished life was taking on John Robinson.
Quite how Robinson managed to con his way into working for Dr Graham as a lab technician and officer manager is a question for another day, but the doctor was patently no fool. Dr Graham later recalled that he had been impressed with Robinson's achievements as an Eagle Scout and his 'extensive credentials' in radiology. Nevertheless, highly regarded in the community, Dr Graham was a trusting man so he turned out to be an easy mark for a pathological and plausible liar like Robinson.
Soon after taking up his new appointment with Dr Graham, John made a somewhat astute discovery, which developed into an abiding, lifelong attachment to the buoyant pleasures to be had from fleecing almost everyone he came across. The upshot was that he developed the disagreeable technique of making himself wealthy at the expense of others whom he made extremely poor – something the banks have been trying to do for decades. From then on, and to this day, dishonest thoughts occupied every space in John's head; he pushed honesty completely to the back of his mind.
Robinson started his criminal activities in 1967, but he soon came unstuck when he was placed on probation for three years for embezzling $33,000 from 57-year-old Dr Graham. JR started by stealing and taking liberties in the practice's medical office. He boasted to friends and colleagues about a house he had bought. In addition, he engaged in sexual liaisons with both office staff and patients – having sex with one patient in the X-ray lab by pretending his wife was terminally ill and unable to satisfy him sexually.
But how did JR find the money to buy the house? The answer is simple; he drained the practice's bank account to the extent that just six months after he had been taken on, a bewildered and intractably confused Dr Graham was unable to pay Christmas bonuses to his staff. This unexplained loss of revenue prompted an audit of the practice's books and accusatory fingers all pointed towards Robinson being the culprit. JR was arrested and marched away in handcuffs feigning sincerity and remorse, praying that his hand-wringing, accompanied by an 'I'm sorry', would get him nothing more than a slap on the wrist from the criminal justice system. And he was correct.
In 1969 Robinson was convicted of the theft. Because it was his first offence and, pledging restitution, a Jackson County judge exercised leniency, sentencing him to three years probation. Dr Graham never saw a cent of the money JR had stolen from him.
* * *
JR's next career move was as the manager of a TV rental company. He soon tuned in to stealing merchandise from this employer too. When he was exposed, the company did not prosecute him, but sack him they most certainly did.
Over the next decade Robinson was often in trouble with the police. But despite being on parole for most of this time he still managed to prosper. When asked about his initial meeting with Robinson, one employer said: 'He gave a very good impression, well dressed, nice-looking ... seemed to know a lot, very glib and a good speaker. He defrauded tens of thousands of dollars from various companies to help him along the way.'
Robinson? I wouldn't leave him alone in my yard to wash my truck. That sumbitch would steal the car, the hose, the faucet, and carry away as much fuckin' water as he could. Jeff Tietz, former Kansas City police officer.
Excerpted from Dead Men Talking by Christopher Berry-Dee. Copyright © 2009 Christopher Berry-Dee. Excerpted by permission of John Blake Publishing Ltd.
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