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Feb. 4, 2022

Episode 7: Where is Daniel Robinson?

Episode 7: Where is Daniel Robinson?

Since June 23rd, 2021 over seven months ago, Daniel Robinson has been missing from Buckeye, Arizona.

Daniel Robinson worked as a geologist for Matrix New World Engineering in Arizona, and was, in his father’s words “a scientist — a brilliant mind.”

According to a police report, Daniel had shown up to his work site around nine that morning in Buckeye, Arizona, west of the White Tank Mountains, where a co-worker reported that he was acting strangely, staring into the distance and “talking about things that did not make sense.” After about 15 minutes, Daniel left and hasn’t been seen since.

CJP-If-I-Go-Missing-2020-Editable.pdf (crimejunkiepodcast.com)

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Hello and welcome to the eastern crime zone, a show about investigations of real true crime cases. 
I'm your host, Cassie Malay, and every week I’ll take you through new details about cases you're familiar with and completely new cases you've never heard of before.

If there's a case you're interested in learning more about, please head over to my website easterncrimezone.com and leave me a voicemail or send me a DM on instagram @easterncrimezone.

Coming up in today’s episode:

Since June 23rd 2021 over seven months ago, Daniel Robinson has been missing from Buckeye, Arizona.

Daniel Robinson worked as a hydrogeologist for Matrix New World Engineering in Arizona.

According to a police report, Daniel had shown up to his work site around nine that morning in Buckeye, Arizona, west of the White Tank Mountains, where a co-worker reported that he was acting strangely, staring into the distance and talking about things that did not make sense. After about 15 minutes, Daniel left and hasn’t been seen since.

Grab your notepad, get settled in and let's dive into another “Cassie File”..
In the weeks leading up to his disappearance, and on the morning he vanished, Daniel went from behaving normally to behaving erratically.
One day shortly before his disappearance, Daniel visited his sister's house and did not say a word for his entire 30 minute visit before leaving.
His coworker said that everything seemed fine as they discussed the weather and the job. But within a matter of minutes, Daniel’s demeanor changed from normal to distracted.
Ken said that Daniel had a very distant look in his eyes and first questioned whether Daniel was on drugs but said that his pupils were not dilated. Daniel is a known marijuna user but is not known to take other substances. Ken told law enforcement that Daniel was saying things that did not make sense like asking if Ken wanted to go rest and then asked if he wanted to go to Phoenix to rest. 15 minutes after first arriving to the job site, Daniel left without saying a word. Here is a quote from  Ken describing that moment
“ he just turned around and walked back over to his Jeep, and I just assumed he was going to get something out of his vehicle. And he opened the door, got in, sat down, put on his seatbelt, then he looked at me and just waved at me and backed up and took off.”
Ken said that at approximately 3:00pm he was made aware that Daniel had not been located and had not responded to texts or calls from work or family. Ken said that he then started to drive in the desert to find Daniel. Ken said that the road to their site runs north/south and that if you head south it comes to a "T" intersection and that if you turn east you go to Sun Valley Pkwy, where they had come from. Ken said that he could see Daniel's tire marks and that they turned westbound that the intersection which leads an extremely large desert area. Ken said that he drove down the road trying to locate Daniel but was unable to.
At some point around the time of his disappearance, all posts on Daniels instagram account were deleted.
The police report does, in fact, reveal that officials conducted a handful of searches for Daniel — including the use of a helicopter — and that the young man was reported missing on June 23. It also digs into Daniel’s mental state before he went missing — including the fact that David noted that his son’s Instagram was scrubbed of posts before his disappearance. The report also lingers on Daniel’s reported fixation on a woman named Katelyn, to whom he delivered groceries while working a side gig for Instacart. His sister told cops that Daniel said he was in love with Katelyn and that she told him to listen to a podcast by spiritual teacher and self-help author Eckhart Tolle that “changed the way he looks at life,” according to the police report. “The podcast showed him how to view things in the world in a positive energy and to avoid negative energy.” 

Katelyn, however, told police she had no relationship with Daniel — despite another friend of Daniel’s saying the missing man told him he “hooked up with one of the girls” he delivered to — and that she and a friend invited him to hang out because they were drunk and he seemed “harmless,” since he was short and only had one arm. Still, Katelyn told cops that Daniel began to get “creepy,” showing up at her house when she wasn’t there and texting her that he loved her. When she told him to stop bothering her, he texted her one last time, the day before he went missing: “The world can get better, but I’ll have to take all the time I can or we can, whatever to name it. I’ll either see you again or never see you again.”
The police report briefly mentions a friend named Luke who was in town visiting and stayed at Daniels Tempe, AZ apartment. Luke told police via phone call that while they were at a bar together, Daniel told Luke that he was glad to see Luke as he (Daniel) had been feeling depressed lately.
13 days after Daniel was last seen, law enforcement finally searched his home for clues. They had performed a welfare check and knocked on the door but obviously Daniel did not answer so they didn't go inside. Inside the apartment, nothing seemed amiss. The apartment was relatively clean other than some clothes on the floor of the bedroom. It didn't look like Daniel was packing for a trip or that there was any sign of a struggle inside the apartment. 
On July 19th, almost a month later after David was last seen, a rancher spotted his vehicle rolled over in a ravine with severe damage. This was only around 4 miles away from his job site. Police said the vehicle was missed during their searches due to the rugged terrain.

THE VEHICLE WAS GOING ABOUT 30 MPH AT THE TIME THE AIRBAGS DEPLOYED. The Jeep apparently sped up immediately before it crashed in a ravine in a desert area. The acceleration right before the crash could "indicate an attempt to drive up the other side of the ravine," the police said, citing a collision report from San Tan Recon, a collision reconstruction and consultation company.

Daniel’s clothes, keys, wallet and cell phone were still inside the car

Daniel’s father, David Robinson II, has desperately tried to keep his son’s name in the media and feels the police haven’t taken his son’s case seriously.
After Daniel’s car was found in the ravine, it took 24 hours for him to be notified. Police suggested to him that Daniel may have “undressed himself totally and walked off naked into the desert to become a monk and join a monastery.”
David hired private investigator Jeff Mcgrath to help locate Daniel while he continued searching the Arizona desert with a group of volunteers Every saturday for the past several months. More than 200 volunteers from all over the local region signed up to help David find Daniel.

Jeff McGrath was able to examine the black box data from Daniel’s jeep which showed the vehicle was driven 11 miles after the initial crash. He also discovered that there were MULTIPLE crashes and the damage to the vehicle didn’t match the terrain where the car was found.
The data also showed the car was “cranked” more than 40 times after the initial crash – indicating that someone tried to start the engine repeatedly.
One of Daniel’s socks was also recovered near his job site.
David set up a petition on Change.com calling for the police department to look more closely into his son’s disappearance.
The family is asking for the status of the investigation to be changed from a missing person to a criminal investigation.

The first, a skull, was discovered on July 31, near where Daniel’s Jeep was found. The medical examiner determined that it wasn’t Robinson’s, as it was significantly older than just a few months. On Nov. 6, David and McGrath’s search parties uncovered still more remains: two human femurs, hip bones, and vertebrae. Again, McGrath said the medical examiner deduced that they were not Daniel’s.
McGrath has his theories about what happened to Daniel — that the avid marijuana user smoked a PCP-laced joint and crashed his car. That would explain his weird behavior before his disappearance. Or that he was simply tired after a long night of gaming — Daniel was building his own computer — and, bummed about being rejected by Katelyn, drove into the desert to rest, where he met “the wrong person.” 
Robinson, though — holed up in his one-bedroom apartment, miles from home — knows one thing to be true: “I believe in my heart, I don’t believe that my son wanted to be away from his family. My theory is more geared toward somebody did something to my son or somebody knows what happened to my son and is not saying anything,” he says. “I don’t think my son wrecked his vehicle, got out on his own accord, took his clothes off, and just walked off and survived out there in the desert somewhere. You know, I don’t believe that.”

David Robinson has gone above and beyond to search for his son but why is he doing l aw enforcement's job? The police did not search for Daniel for days after he was reported missing. They did not enter his apartment for 13 days after he was reported missing. Even the first aerial search for Daniel was denied until his family pressured the police department. Why was this case not taken seriously?

The answer may lie in what some call: “Missing White Woman Syndrome”.  According to Wikipedia, Missing white woman syndrome is a term used by social scientists and media commentators to refer to the media coverage, especially in television, of missing-person cases involving young, white, upper-middle-class women or girls compared to the alleged relative lack of attention towards missing women who are not white, women of lower social classes, and missing men or boys. 

David Robinson was quoted earlier referencing the Gabby Petito case. In truth, Gabby’s case was how I learned about Daniel. In her case, shortly after going missing, the FBI became involved. This resulted in her body being found relatively quickly. This is something that the Robinson family has been advocating for: FBI involvement. Is Daniel’s case not being taken as seriously because he is not a “damsel in distress”? 

Also, with so many loose ends and unanswered questions left for everyone involved, one of the things that you can do to prevent such a thing from happening to you is to prepare your own Missing Persons folder– in this case, your own “Cassie” File.  

The idea behind this folder is if you were to be missing, all of your information is in one place for law enforcement. When you have this folder, it may cut down on the amount of speculation so many cases get about leaving on their own. 

This PDF comes from the Crime Junkie podcast’s website. They have done an amazing job compiling this very through document. 

Download and fill out your copy of the template, which includes everything from your vital information and emergency contacts to fingerprints, identifying marks, tattoos, and even medications.  Don’t keep this in your home.  Instead, Keep this with someone you trust– a parent, sibling, or lifelong best friend.  This can dramatically cut down on the time to compile your information and instead allow people to quickly get to the Search and Rescue phase in hopes of finding you.

Tease:  Next week… 

Next week we will be discussing the mysterious death of Phoebe Handsjuk. 
In Melbourne, Australia, a young woman’s tragic end has puzzled a family since 2010. Phoebe Handsjuk's death was blamed on a combination of sleeping drugs, alcohol, and depression but holds more evidence of foul play.
Phoebe was just 24-years-old when her body was found at the bottom of a garbage chute in the basement of a luxury apartment building on the evening of December 2, 2010. She survived the 30 meter fall, but suffered deep gashes from the compactor blades and died on the floor of the refuse room from loss of blood. With the recommended dose of the sleeping drug Stilnox, similar to Ambien, and a blood-alcohol level at three times the legal limit, the police coroner made the determination that Phoebe climbed into the garb
There are a few serious problems with this narrative, mainly that the garbage chute was a mere two feet by nine inches and incredibly difficult to enter. There were also no fingerprints found on the handle or outside of the chute, and it appeared to be wiped clean.
At he time of this mysterious incident, Phoebe was in a relationship with a much older man named Ant Hampel. Ant Hampel is the son of retired Supreme Court judge George Hampel and the stepson of County Court judge Felicity Hampel. Several years after Phoebe's death, Ant would lose another young girlfriend in a suspicious manner. 
Come back next week for a more in depth dive into the case of Phoebe Handsjuk.
In the meantime, stay safe, be kind and QUESTION EVERYTHING.