Lisa Stasi: Murdered by Serial Killer and Her Baby Sold to His Brother
Mother and Baby Disappeared
Lisa Stasi was 19 when she vanished, along with her baby Tiffany, from the Rodeway Inn in Overland Park, Kansas, on January 9, 1985. Fourteen years later, the tragic truth would come to light about what happened to Lisa’s four-month-old daughter and opened the floodgates of speculation about Lisa’s disappearance.
What started as a missing person case turned into a homicide investigation involving a serial killer who thought he had misled the police for nearly two decades.
Lisa's Earlier Life
Lisa married Carl Stasi in August 1984 in her hometown of Huntsville, Alabama. Lisa gave birth to their daughter, Tiffany, the following month.
Carl and Lisa planned to stay in Huntsville to raise their daughter, but Carl did not have insurance, so the couple relocated to Kansas City. Their marriage was in trouble, and by the end of the year, Carl had reenlisted in the military and relocated to Illinois.
Lisa and Tiffany moved into the Hope House, a battered women’s shelter in Kansas City. Hoping for a new life, Lisa began looking for work.
Meeting With "John Osborne"
Lisa met John Edward Robinson while they were staying at the Hope House. Robinson used the name "John Osborne" when he introduced himself to Lisa.
Robinson presented Lisa with an opportunity to join the Kansas City Outreach program, an organization created to assist young mothers with room and board while studying for their GED. She had high hopes for her future. The man promised her a job in Chicago, an apartment, and daycare for her baby. Lisa excitedly told her family she was joining the program.
In early 1985, Lisa and Tiffany checked into room 131 at the Rodeway Inn in Overland Park. She told her family that “Mr. Osborne” had arranged and paid for her new accommodations. Feeling uneasy, Lisa’s sister-in-law warned her to be cautious.
On the evening of January 8, Lisa asked her sister-in-law to watch Tiffany. When Lisa returned to pick up Tiffany, she told her sister-in-law that Mr. Osborne was looking for her, so she called him at the motel and left a message.
He showed up at the sister-in-law’s house about 25 minutes later to pick up Lisa and Tiffany. They got into his vehicle, purportedly to return to the motel. Lisa left her yellow Toyota Corolla and nearly all her personal items at her sister-in-law’s home. That was the last time she was seen.
The Phone Call
Later that day, Lisa called Carl’s mother crying hysterically and saying that someone told her that her mother-in-law was attempting to take custody of Tiffany by claiming that Lisa was an unfit parent. Carl’s mother reassured her she was not thinking of taking Tiffany from her and that the story she was hearing was false.
Lisa also told her mother-in-law that someone wanted her to sign four sheets of blank paper. Her mother-in-law warned her not to sign anything without receiving some guidance. Lisa then said, “Here they come,” and hung up the phone. That was the last time anyone spoke to Lisa.
The family would tell investigators that they received several letters from Lisa saying she and the baby were doing fine. Cathy Stackpole, from the former shelter, read a letter to ABC News in 2000:
“I want to thank you for all of your help. I’ve decided to get away from this area and try to make a good life for me and Tiffany.”
There was no reason to worry about Lisa, right?
John Osborne AKA John Edward Robinson
John Edward Robinson was born on December 27, 1943, in Cicero, Illinois. He was the third of five children with a disciplinarian mother and an alcoholic father.
Robinson became an Eagle Scout in 1957, and traveled to London to perform before Queen Elizabeth II. It became news throughout Chicago.
Later that year, Robinson enrolled in the private boy’s school at Quigley Preparatory Seminary in Chicago. A school for aspiring priests, he dropped out after one year due to disciplinary issues.
In 1961, Robinson enrolled at Morton Junior College, located in Cicero, and studied to become an X-ray technician, but dropped out after two years. By 1964, he had moved to Kansas City and married Nancy Jo Lynch. Nancy gave birth to their first child, John Jr., in 1965, followed by their daughter Kimberly in 1967, and in 1971, the twins Christopher and Christine arrived.
In 1969, using forged credentials, Robinson got a job with Dr. Wallace Graham as an X-ray technician and was arrested for embezzling $33,000 from the medical practice. He received three years of probation.
In 1970, Robinson violated his probation by moving back to Chicago. There he took a job as an insurance salesman at R.B. Jones Company. In 1971, he was arrested again for embezzling funds from the firm and ordered to return to Kansas City, where his probation was extended. Yet again, in 1975, he was arrested for mail and securities fraud in connection with a bogus “medical consulting” company he had formed in Kansas City.
All the while, Robinson cultivated an outward appearance of being an upstanding and community-minded citizen, becoming a Sunday school teacher, Scoutmaster, and baseball coach.
He had also weaseled his way onto the board of directors at a local nonprofit organization and forged a series of letters from the executive director to the mayor of Kansas City and from the mayor to other civic leaders, commending his generous volunteer efforts. Under this guise, he was eventually awarded "Man of the Year" at a festive awards luncheon.
While he was masquerading as a churchgoing, upstanding citizen, Robinson claimed to friends that he had joined a secret sadomasochism cult called the International Council of Masters and had become a "slave master," with duties of procuring victims to gatherings where they would be tortured and raped by cult members.
In 1984, Robinson started two more fraudulent companies and hired Paula Godfrey, 19, as a sales representative. Paula was interested in pursuing a business career. She told her family that Robinson made arrangements for her and a group of other women to fly to San Antonio, Texas. There they would enroll in a clerical skills course.
Paula’s family later told police that Robinson picked up their daughter on September 1, 1984, and said he was driving her to the airport for her flight. She was never seen again.
Paula’s father flew to San Antonio to search for his daughter when she did not contact her family after several days. He found out she had never checked into her hotel. He frantically returned to Overland Park and found Robinson at his office and demanded his daughter contact him within three days.
Paula’s parents then began receiving letters signed by Paula and postmarked from Kansas City, Kansas.
They took the letters to the police. Police investigated Paula’s disappearance, but the case had gone cold.
A few months later, Robinson met Lisa Stasi. She went missing, and her case went cold, too.
In 1987, Catherine Clampitt, 27, moved to Kansas to live with her brother’s family while looking for employment.
Catherine came across an advertisement for Robinson’s management consulting company. Her brother said that the wording in the ad was strange, offering extensive travel and a new wardrobe.
Robinson hired Catherine, and she often stayed at hotels several nights a week due to her position. Her brother became concerned when she did not return home after leaving on June 15, 1987, and reported her disappearance to the police.
Over the course of the next several years, four more women would vanish.
Robinson had discovered the Internet, set up five computers in his home, and began trolling for victims. Using several monikers, including the “Slave Master,” he trolled online for women who liked to play the submissive partner role during sex. He also became well-known in BDSM online chat rooms.
Izabela Lewicka: Polish Immigrant
In 1999, used the internet to meet Izabela Lewicka, 21, an art student and Polish immigrant living in Indiana.
When she moved to Kansas City, Robinson gave Izabela an engagement ring. He brought her to the county registrar, where they paid for a marriage license, but it was never picked up. She also signed a 115-page slave contract that gave Robinson total control over her bank accounts and every aspect of her life.
Robinson had lured Izabela to Kansas City so she could be his "submissive."
Robinson would tell women they were going to travel the world and sail on his yacht. He had each of the women he met sign four blank pieces of paper that he would later send to their families, posing as them, so families would not suspect they were missing and had actually been murdered.
Later in 1999, Robinson scammed Suzette Trouten, 28, a nurse from Newport, Michigan. He had persuaded her to work as a caretaker for his elderly father (who had been dead for many years). The alternative lifestyle attracted Suzette to make a move to Kansas City that following year.
Suzette’s mother, Carolyn Trouten, received emails from her daughter but felt something was not right.
“Things weren’t worded the way she would word them,” her mother told a news reporter. “Everything was spelled right.”
She called the police.
The authorities then discovered two abandoned dogs at the trailer park where Suzette lived on March 1, 2000.
Suzettes friends say she would have never gone anywhere without her dogs.
With Robinson already on their radar, police feared Suzette could be dead.
Fall of the House of Cards
Investigators were pretty confident that Robinson was involved in Suzette’s disappearance and began watching his every move, including trips to his 16-acre farm in Linn County, Kansas.
Dave Brown, a police officer who investigated Robinson, gave Carolyn Trouten a tape recorder and had her tape conversations with Robinson. During one of the taped calls, Robinson told Carolyn that her daughter had left with someone else to travel the world and had not taken the job he had offered her.
Later in the call, Carolyn asks Robinson if she should notify someone about her daughter’s disappearance. Robinson said:
“Hon, I wouldn’t, you know, I really wouldn’t, uh, wouldn’t worry about it too much. I’m sure that when, when they hit the next place, they’ll, um, they’ll send us a card or call us or email us or something.”
Police continued to watch Robinson as he brought in women from all over the world and put them in hotels. Detectives were able to access his garbage cans, which contained shredded documents revealing Robinson also had a storage locker in Missouri.
In June 2000, Robinson was arrested on charges of aggravated sexual battery of two out-of-town women that he had met on the internet. One accused Robinson of taking $500 worth of sex toys from her. That incident opened the door for investigators.
Police Search Farm
The sexual battery incident had given law enforcement a reason to do a deeper investigation. A search warrant was obtained to search the Linn County property.
Authorities went in with cadaver dogs that hit on some trash outside Robinson’s trailer. There, police found some barrels.
As Sgt. Roth was rolling one barrel out, it rolled over, and something red came out. “When it fell, a thin line came down the side, and you know, it was just a thin red line. And this fly went ‘boop’ and landed on that red line, and we knew right then and there that that’s blood.” Once police looked inside, they saw who they believed to be Suzette Trouten. The second barrel revealed who they thought was Izabela Lewicka.
Investigators then paid a visit to Robinson’s Missouri storage locker, where they found three barrels in a disintegration state. Inside each of the three barrels, they found three women who they did not know were even missing: Beverly Bonner, a prison librarian, and a mother and daughter, Sheila and Debbie Faith. Investigators would later find out Sheila was 45, and her daughter Debbie, 15, had cerebral palsy, requiring the use of a wheelchair.
They were dealing with a true monster.
Piecing it Together
When police got search warrants for Robinson’s house and office, they found several blank letters with Suzette Trouten’s signature at the bottom. In his storage locker, they found a photocopy of a Rodeway Inn receipt with Lisa Stasi’s name on it.
They also found photocopies of letters that looked like the letters he sent to the families, like he used a template.
“Everything fell into place. It put everything together at that point,” said former detective Dawn Layman.
Robinson was charged with the murders of the five women found on his farm and his storage locker.
In July 2000, investigators also connected him with the disappearances of Godfrey, Clampitt, Stasi, and her daughter Tiffany Stasi.
Stasi's Baby is Found Alive
Authorities received another surprise when they received a lead that Lisa Stasi’s baby, who was presumably murdered, was not only alive but living as a teenager with a Midwestern family. Paul Morrison, who prosecuted the case, said they discovered that the couple who unwittingly adopted little Tiffany was Robinson’s brother, Donald Robinson, and his wife, Helen.
Chicago Police went to Donald Robinson’s home and spoke to them. The Robinsons submitted their DNA samples, fingerprints, and a footprint of the teenager now known as Heather Robinson.
For investigators, Tiffany being adopted out to Robinson's brother was a bombshell.
Police initially identified Heather as Lisa Stasi’s missing daughter by comparing fingerprints and footprints with those from the hospital where she was born.
We have to wonder what kind of individual would kill a mother, then set up an adoption with his own brother. Heather grew up not knowing her tragic past, and the shock was incomprehensible.
Morrison said at first, they did not believe Donald Robinson had no knowledge of what happened, but he and his wife had legitimate adoption paperwork. Heather had known she was adopted, but did not know anything about her birth parents.
Heather told 20/20 that her uncle John always made her feel uncomfortable and a weird feeling in the pit of her stomach. “It’s like walking down a dark alley, knowing someone is behind you, uh, approaching you closer and closer—you just felt that dread drop to your stomach,” she said.
According to ABC News, Donald Robinson and his wife had tried to have children for at least five years before they began considering adoption. Police said they believe that on a snowy day in January 1985, John Robinson picked up Lisa and Tiffany from Lisa's sister-in-law's house and then drove them to the Rodeway Inn, where Lisa made the frantic call to her mother-in-law before disappearing.
Investigators believe Lisa was probably bludgeoned to death the same day her baby was handed over to Don Robinson.
Morrison said that John Robinson had told his brother it would cost several thousand dollars plus adoption fees to adopt the baby and then turned over what turned out to be a fraudulent certificate of adoption and paperwork.
Investigators also believe that the adoptive family had no knowledge of the criminal activity and stated they believe that Robinson's brother Don was just another victim of John Edward Robinson.
Where Is John Edward Robinson Now? Robinson was convicted of killing three women over a period of 15 years. He was subsequently sentenced to death. After the trial in 2003, Johnson pleaded guilty in Cass County to five additional counts of murder and was sentenced to life in prison.
John Edward Robinson is prisoner #0045690 at the El Dorado Correctional Facility in Kansas.