Serial murderer admits to killing 5 more women
Plea means no death penalty in Missouri
HARRISONVILLE, MO. ? A convicted serial killer who is sentenced to death in Kansas admitted Thursday to killing five Missouri women between 1984 and 2000.
John E. Robinson Sr., 59, of Olathe, Kan., pleaded guilty to five counts of first-degree murder in exchange for sentences of life in prison without parole on each count.
Without the plea agreement, Robinson could have faced the death penalty for three of the Missouri murders, if convicted.
The bodies of those three victims — Beverly Bonner, 49, of Cameron; and Sheila D. Faith, 45, and her 16-year-old daughter, Debbie, both of southern California — were found in 55-gallon barrels in a Raymore storage locker on June 5, 2000. Two days earlier, authorities had dug up two larger barrels containing women’s bodies on rural property Robinson owned just over the state line in Linn County, Kan.
Robinson also pleaded guilty Thursday to killing two women in the mid-1980s whose bodies were never found. Cass County Circuit Judge Joseph Dandurand said he would accept the plea agreement because it brought closure for the families of Paula Godfrey, 19, of Olathe, and Catherine Clampitt, 27, of Cass County.
Dressed in a dark suit and tie, Robinson was calm in court and answered Dandurand’s questions about the murders matter-of-factly.
Authorities in both states have said that Robinson — whose criminal record of theft, embezzlement and other offenses dates to 1969 — lured some of his victims to northeastern Kansas with promises of work or sadomasochistic sex.
The Johnson County jury that tried the Kansas case last year sat through three weeks of often lurid, grisly testimony before convicting him of murdering Suzette Trouten, 27, and Izabela Lewicka, 21, whose bodies were found in barrels on the Linn County property, and Lisa Stasi, 19, whose remains have never been found.
No charges had ever been filed in the disappearances of Godfrey and Clampitt, but Robinson had long been considered a suspect because he had ties to both women.
Prosecutor Christopher Koster said information he received through plea negotiations convinced him the bodies of those two women would never be found.
“This was exponentially more difficult than any other plea agreement I’ve ever been involved with,” Koster said Thursday. “He brutally murdered eight women.”
Koster said he understood the desires of some people to see Robinson sentenced to death in Missouri also, but said it was more important to resolve the cases of Godfrey and Clampitt.
William Godfrey, Paula Godfrey’s father, struggled with composure as he stood in front of the courtroom and talked about his daughter, who disappeared in 1984.
He described Paula Godfrey’s as an excellent student and terrific ice skater whose mother often woke up early to take her ice skating.
“After she disappeared, my wife was a changed woman. A big part of her was ripped away,” Godfrey said. “John Robinson, you took away from our family our oldest daughter that we all loved so much.”
Diane Godfrey died of cancer 10 years ago.
Koster said Robinson, who owned a company he called Equi II, met Paula Godfrey in 1984 and hired her to help him at business shows.
Godfrey got into some trouble, Koster said, and Robinson loaned her $800. He also introduced her to a friend, Irv Blattner, who helped Godfrey find places to stay in Belton, Mo., where her boyfriend couldn’t find her.
Koster described how Robinson drove to a Belton motel where Godfrey was staying to demand money. A fight ensued, the prosecutor said, and Robinson hit Godfrey in the head with a lamp while Blattner blocked the door so she couldn’t escape.
Koster said Blattner has since died.
Clampitt met Robinson in the summer of 1987, and he hired her to work as a commissioned saleswoman for Equi II. But that deal fell through and she never worked for him, Robinson said.
Koster said Clampitt, who lived at several different locations in Cass County, started visiting Robinson once or twice a week, usually when she needed money.
In May or June 1987, Clampitt called Robinson and wanted him to come to her apartment. There were two other people at the apartment — including a person identified Thursday only as “G.T.” — when Robinson arrived, Koster said, and Clampitt demanded money.
Robinson and Clampitt began arguing, the prosecutor said, and Robinson grabbed a club-like object known as a “tire thumper” and beat her in the head. Robinson then instructed G.T. on how to dispose of the body, Koster said, and it was done.
Koster said information on Blattner and G.T. came out during plea negotiations.
The prosecutor said authorities would immediately look into the whereabouts of G.T., but he was not optimistic that any charges would come of that — even if G.T. were found.
“The best evidence we have against G.T. is John Robinson,” Koster said. “That’s not firm footing to take a case forward.”