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  • Writer's pictureKym Pasqualini

She Found Her Own Kidnapper: The Story of Kara Robinson Chamberlain

Kara Robinson Chamberlain, serial killer, Richard Evonitz, Survivor
Abducted by serial killer Richard Evonitz on June 24, 2002, Kara Robinson Chamberlain survived and later helped catch a serial killer. Photo courtesy of Kara Robinson Chamberlain website.

It was a warm and sunny day on June 24, 2002. Kara Robinson Chamberlain, 15, was at a friend’s home in Lexington County, South Carolina. Her friend was getting ready while Kara was out watering the front lawn. They were planning to spend the day at the lake.

As she was watering the bushes, a Trans Am pulled into the driveway. In his late 30s, a jovial man wearing a button-down shirt, jeans, and a baseball hat got out with some pamphlets in his hand.

The man asked if her parents were home, and Kara replied, “Well, this isn’t my house. This is my friend’s house.” The man replied, “Okay, well, what about her parents, are her parent’s home?” Kara told him, “No, her mom’s not home right now.”

The man said, “I’ll just leave these with you,” as he walked closer to her.

Serial killer, Richard Evonitz
Richard Evonitz abducted Kara Robinson Chamberlain and was accused opf killing four other young girls. Photo courtesy of IMDb.

Suddenly, the man, who would be later identified as serial killer Richard Evonitz, 38, pulled out a gun and stuck it into her neck. Evonitz forced Kara to kneel inside a large storage bin inside the back seat of his car.

Noting Her Surroundings

As the man was driving, Kara began to memorize things around her and started counting the turns he made in his car, hoping she might be able to find her way home. She had also noticed he was smoking Marlboro red cigarettes and listening to classic rock radio. She then memorized the serial number inside the plastic container she was forced to kneel.

Kara Robinson Chamberlain, Richard Evonitz
Kara Robinson Chamberlain survived an abduction for 18 hours by serial killer Richard Evonitz, in June 2002. Photo courtesy of NCMA.

“My survival mechanism said, ‘All right, let’s gather as much information as we can,’” Kara told People Magazine. “Fear barely kicked in … the human will to survive, and the survival mechanism really just can’t be underestimated.”

On the way to his apartment, Evonitz pulled over and put a gag in Kara’s mouth, then placed handcuffs on her wrists.

He took her to his messy apartment — where she noticed a lizard, guinea pig, and other small animals — and sexually assaulted her for 18 hours.

Despite feeling threatened, Kara tried to remember things about Richard to help identify him later. She saw the names of his dentist and doctor on his refrigerator. When he wanted her to eat, “I said, ‘Well, I’m not going to eat right now, but is there anything I can do for you?’” she told People. “I actually ended up sweeping his kitchen.”

Sheriff Leon Lott of Richland County said that kind of quick thinking and manipulation is what saved Kara’s life. “She was putting him at ease and making him feel comfortable, gaining his trust,” Lott told People. “And that’s what police negotiators do. She controlled her emotions to the point where she was able to develop a plan.”

The Escape

While Evonitz was sleeping, Kara managed to get one hand out of the handcuffs he had restrained her with, along with removing a leg restraint. In addition to the door being dead-bolted, a metal accordion closet door blocked the main exit of the apartment. Quietly, she crept to the front door and escaped.

“I put my hand on the knob,” Kara told Crime News. “This was my moment to escape.” She threw the door open and ran for freedom. “I just ran,” Kara said. “I didn’t look back for a second.”

Once outside, she ran to a car with two people inside and asked them to take her to a police station, where she told authorities what had happened.

The police asked her if she thought she could direct them to Evonitz’s apartment, and due to her astuteness and the help of the maintenance man, they found his home.

By the time investigators arrived, Evonitz had left.

Other Victims

Inside Evonitz’s apartment, investigators found a locked box that contained newspaper clippings about the unsolved murders of Sofia Silva, 16, and sisters Kristin, 15, and Kati Lisk, 12, of Spotsylvania County, Pennsylvania.

Murder victims of Richard Evonitz. Sofia Silva, Kato Lisk and Kristin Lisk.
Victims of Richard Evonitz include Sofia Silva, 16, and sisters Kati Lisk, 12, and Kristin, 15, all of Spotsylvania, Pennsylvania. Photo courtest of NCMA.

On September 9, 1996, Sofia Silva went outside to do her homework on the front steps of her family’s home. Suddenly, she was gone. A little more than a month after her disappearance, farm-workers found a decomposed female in a swamp. The body had purple nail polish on her fingers and toes and was wrapped in a blue blanket. It was identified as Silvia.

Police arrested a petty criminal named Karl Michael Roush, 44, who lived four houses down from Silvia. However, charges would eventually be dropped. While Roush was behind bars, two other teenage girls — sisters Kristin and Kati Lisk — disappeared.

Their bodies were found in a river five days later. Investigators suspected it was the work of the same killer as details of the case were similar. All young girls were abducted from in front of their homes, murdered, then dumped in the water. They all had been raped, and their public areas had been shaved.

Kara had finally provided a break in the unsolved cases with her heroism and will to survive.

Ordinary Guy

When Evonitz fled his apartment, he called his sister and confessed his crimes. Police caught up to him in Sarasota, Florida. After a high-speed chase, police cornered Evonitz, who had a pistol.

A police dog was released, and after several bites, Evonitz pointed the gun at his own head and pulled the trigger. On June 27, 2002, at 10:52 p.m., Evonitz was pronounced dead.

Following the return of his body, his remains were scattered over the Saluda River in South Carolina, according to the book “Into the Water” by Diane Fanning.

A Survivor

“I wanted to go to trial and let him see me again and know I was his downfall,” Kara told America’s Most Wanted soon after his death. “I wanted him to look at me and know that choosing me was the biggest mistake he ever made.”

Kara Robinson Chamberlain, Richard Exonitz
Kara Robinson Chamberlain graduating from South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy. Photo courtesy of Oxygen.

Eight years later, Kara would graduate from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy, the only woman in her class. She had vowed to become a crime fighter and achieved her goal.

As a result of helping solve the murders of Sofia and Lisk sisters, Kara received a $150,000 reward and met their families.

“It was one of the most important things that’s ever happened to me,” Kara told People. “Because it brought home the importance of what I did. Because I felt like, ‘Wow, I’m actually giving these families something they never would’ve gotten without me.’ Just the closure of knowing the person responsible for their daughters’ death is no longer here.”

Kara became an investigator on child abuse and sexual assault cases but left her job in law enforcement after her two sons were born with her husband, Joe Chamberlain.

Kara now uses her social media platforms, including Instagram and Tic Tok, to provide safety information and provide hope and encouragement to other survivors. Kara can be found at

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