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Evidence sought in Kansas-Missouri barrel deaths

John Edward Robinson
John Edward Robinson is suspected of murdering five women, authorities said  

Five women killed; man known on Net as 'Slavemaster' suspected

June 7, 2000
Web posted at: 1:24 p.m. EDT (1724 GMT)

In this story:

Only one victim identified

Pond being drained

Case began as missing persons investigation

Suspect allegedly propositioned neighbor's wife


La CYGNE, Kansas (CNN) -- Authorities on Wednesday resumed draining a pond on Kansas property where the bodies of two women were found stuffed in metal barrels.

VideoCNN affiliate reporter Teri Schaefer shows where police are searching Robinson's property.
Windows Media 28K 80K

The property owner, a man who allegedly solicited sadomasochistic sex over the Internet using the name "Slavemaster," is suspected in the deaths of those women and three others whose bodies were found in a storage locker in neighboring Missouri.

Investigators also are looking into a disappearance dating back to 1985.

John Edward Robinson Sr., 56, was not immediately charged in the five deaths. But authorities said murder charges were possible by week's end. "We believe that's certainly where we're heading," said Chris Koster, the prosecutor in Cass County, Missouri.

Robinson is being held on $5 million bond in Johnson County, Kansas, where he was charged Monday with sexual assault in a separate case. That charge followed his arrest on Friday following complaints from two women who said they had encounters with Robinson at hotels.

Authorities remove one of the barrels found at the 16.5-acre property  

Only one victim identified

Autopsies showed the five victims died of blunt trauma to the head, authorities said. As a task force from both states gathers evidence and investigates whether there are additional victims, it also is working on trying to identify the women.

"It may be several days, and perhaps weeks, before we're able to identify them," Koster told CNN.

One of the victims was Suzette Trouten, 28, formerly of Monroe County, Michigan, The Kansas City Star reported Wednesday. Lee Shukait, her cousin, said Trouten moved to the Kansas City area to look for work but the family had not had contact with her since March.

Relatives said authorities told them Tuesday of Trouten's death.

Johnson County District Attorney Paul Morrison said he did not think any more bodies would be found.

However, Morrison confirmed that investigators also are looking at the possibility that Robinson was involved in the 1985 disappearance of Lisa Stasi and her 5-month-old daughter, Tiffany.

Stasi was last seen at a motel in Olathe, Kansas -- near Kansas City, Kansas -- where Robinson had arranged for them to stay, prosecutors said in a 1986 court motion. The missing persons report in the case was ordered sealed on Tuesday, police said.

According to a sentencing memorandum in a 1986 theft case, Robinson approached workers at a hospital, saying he was helping set up a charity for unwed mothers.

The workers introduced Robinson to Stasi, the document said. It did not identify the hospital.

After the woman and her baby disappeared, Robinson told authorities that she indicated she was moving to Denver, but authorities found no trace of her there.

Sheriff Marvin Stites
Listen to Sheriff Marvin Stites describe the circumstances that led to the arrest of John Edward Robinson

Audio 301K/27 sec. AIFF or WAV sound

Audio 237K/22 sec. AIFF or WAV sound

Pond being drained

Robinson's arrest last week led police to two bodies found Saturday on property he owned in La Cygne, a rural community about 50 miles south of Kansas City, Kansas.

The three other bodies were discovered Monday at a storage locker rented by Robinson about 30 miles away, in Raymore, Missouri. Inside, they found three 55-gallon barrels, each containing a woman's body.

Investigators began draining a pond on Robinson's 16.5-acre property on Tuesday afternoon. The effort continued on Wednesday.

"We are draining the pond now ... to make certain there are no more victims on the property," Linn County (Kansas) Sheriff Marvin Stites told CNN.

"It's a rather slow process," Stites said of the draining. "There are literally millions of gallons of water in the pond, and we don't want any downstream environmental issues, so we are draining it rather slowly."

He said authorities do not believe that a pickup truck already found underwater in the pond belonged to any of the victims.

Case began as missing persons investigation

At least some of the five dead women are believed to be related to Robinson's alleged Internet relationships with women interested in sadomasochism. He was known to use the screen name "Slavemaster" in his computer correspondence and sometimes called himself James Turner in person, authorities said.

The two women whose complaint led to Robinson's arrest told authorities they objected to him photographing them and said he brutalized them in a way that went beyond what they intended.

One of the women had traveled from Texas to have a sexual encounter with Robinson in April, authorities said.

Investigators say the case initially began three months ago as a missing persons investigation and gained momentum after the two women came forward.

Suspect allegedly propositioned neighbor's wife

Robinson was arrested Friday at his home at a mobile home park in Olathe, managed by his wife. Authorities said dozens of photographs of women and computer equipment were confiscated.

The bodies found near La Cygne appeared to have been in the barrels for several months, authorities said.

The bodies found in barrels inside the 10-by-12-foot storage locker in Raymore had been there for months or years, Koster said. Luggage and other items were stacked on top of the barrels in the back of the locker.

A neighbor of Robinson's in Olathe, Henry Timmons, described him as a cordial man who put out yard decorations on holidays and generally kept to himself.

Corey Friedemann, a neighbor several doors down, described Robinson as a "lonely old man" who was more inclined to be friendly to women.

Friedemann said Robinson propositioned his wife and a neighbor. Friedemann's wife threatened to tell Robinson's wife and the propositions stopped.

"It's making all of the women in the neighborhood nervous, because I'm sure my wife and neighbor are not the only ones he's propositioned," Friedemann said. "I wish I would have said something earlier. Maybe it would have got him to stop him from doing what he did."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Cass County, Missouri
Johnson County, Kansas
The Kansas City Star
Johnson County Kansas District Courts

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