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True crime. Casually done.

The Abduction of Kara Robinson

What would you do if you found yourself at the mercy of a serial killer? Every true crime fan has probably given it a thought at some point — maybe some of you even have a plan of action ready to go, just in case you ever find yourself in the trunk of the next Bundy or Gacy. That’s all well and good, but planning it in theory is one thing — actually executing that plan is another.

It takes a certain kind of person (and a certain amount of luck) to stare a killer in the face and make it out with your life. And I don’t mind dropping a spoiler right now to tell you that’s the kind of story we’re dealing with today. 

In a brief detour from all the doom and gloom of murders and disappearances, in this episode we’re following the miraculous escape of one young woman whose wits and bravery brought a heinous child-killer to justice. 

This is the story of the abduction (and escape) of Kara Robinson…

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The Kidnapping 

It was a bright summer morning on June 24th, 2002, when 15-year-old Kara Robinson prepared for a day at the lake with her mates. The teenager — a native of Columbia, South Carolina — went around to a friend’s place to collect her. 

Her friend told Kara she needed a few more minutes to get ready, so the teenager offered to help out by watering the plants in the front garden for the girl’s mother. Little did she know as she grabbed the watering can and set about helping her friend with her chores, she was being watched. 

Not long after Kara was left alone in the front yard, a green Pontiac Firebird pulled up at the end of the driveway. The driver — a middle-aged man with dark hair and a goatee — called the teenager over. It’s the classic, cliche ‘stranger danger’ moment, practically lifted right out of those public safety videos they show in school. Kara was understandably reluctant to approach.

1974 Pontiac Firebird Formula 400.
1974 Pontiac Firebird Formula 400. By Angilas89, is licensed under CC-BY-SA

But there was no reason to worry, the guy was just an innocent magazine salesman. He stepped out of the car, smiling and waving his samples: “Come take a look; it’ll only take a second.”

A second was all he needed.

Kara walked over to the car, where the man stood next to the open driver’s side door. As soon as she got within arm’s reach, he bent down into the vehicle and produced a handgun from beside the seat, pressing the cold steel of the muzzle into her neck. Kara later told the papers, “I think I felt a moment of terror. But I knew I just needed to do what he told me to do.” 

That meant climbing into the back seat of the car, and into a 50 gallon plastic container the kidnapper had waiting there. In a state of shock and pure adrenaline, she quietly complied. Seconds later, she was sealed inside the cramped container, the only sounds the beating of her own heart and the car peeling out of the street. A couple moments more, and Kara’s friend stepped out onto the front lawn, with no idea what had happened to her.

Now, I know you’re probably thinking that you know how this story goes… it usually goes quite poorly, to say the least. I mean, what match is a 15-year-old kid for a grown man with a gun? But I already told you that’s not the route we’re going down today; this was no ordinary 15-year-old kid. It was Kara Robinson: Bane of Child-snatchers, Slayer of Sex Offenders, the First of Her Name.

In her, our creepy old kidnapper had more than met his match… 

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“Gather Information, Wait, Escape”

The first and most crucial survival tip that we can learn from Kara is this: play to your strengths. By that I mean, as she was huddled there inside that stuffy plastic box, she knew the odds of her smashing out and knocking her kidnapper out with a haymaker were… limited.

So if force just isn’t an option, you might just have to play the long game. Which for her, in that moment, meant collecting as much information as possible about her situation from the moment the car left her friend’s street. For the rest of that day, she lived by a simple motto: “‘Gather information, wait for him to be complacent, escape,’ that was just rolling through my brain constantly.”

She began small, with the serial number of the box she was trapped in. It was impossible to tell how long she was trapped inside, but I’ll bet the numbers on that box are still burned into her brain today — that’s how intensely she studied them. 

For over an hour she focussed on the numbers, repeating them over and over again until they were etched into her brain. That repetitive meditation was broken when her plastic cage rocked forward suddenly, and she heard the sound of the handbrake being set. They had arrived, and the teenager steeled herself for whatever was about to come. 

The car door opened, and she felt herself being heaved into the air, then carried across the driveway, and dumped onto the floor with a thud. When the lid was hauled off, she saw that same man from earlier staring down at her, with a very different kind of smile on his face. 

“Do everything you’re told, and I won’t have to hurt you,” he told the teenager as she climbed out of the box, finding herself in a dingy little ground-floor apartment. Knowing she didn’t have any other options, she agreed. But as she stepped out of the box, she picked up on a few more details to help her secret rebellion: magnets on the fridge with the name of a local dentist, a couple of little rodents in cages in the living room. 

“I had to get as much information about this person and my surroundings as I can, so that I can escape and so that I can identify this person when I do escape.”

Her legs had gone numb, making those first few steps difficult, but she managed to make it over to the living room sofa. There her captor fastened on a pair of blue fluffy handcuffs, reinforced with copper wire that cut into her skin. Then he bound her, legs and set her down in front of the TV. 

For the first time, Kara got a chance to properly study the man who abducted her. A white guy, about 40 years old, brown eyes, heavy-set, dark brown hair with a dusting of grey, double chin. After a few minutes absorbing the details, she’d be able to pick him out of a crowd of 10,000. The man then stood up and turned on the TV, switching it over to the evening news. He forced Kara to watch, checking if her abduction had made it into the news cycle.

Nothing. 

“Nobody’s coming to get you,” he told her. 

Now, as for what happened next, there’s no real need for me to go into any detail. After all, this isn’t the story of some pathetic creep’s depravities; it’s the story of how he got what was coming to him. Instead, let’s focus on the state of mind Kara got herself in, which helped her stay composed no matter what: 

“In that apartment, I knew what this man’s intentions were for me while I was being assaulted. [….] I strong-willed myself into remaining as calm as I could, as long as I could. I remember at one point there was a gun within my reach, and I thought for a moment about grabbing the gun, and then I realized there was little chance that I was going to win that fight.” 

Still playing the long game. So our list of survival tips currently stands at: play to your strengths, gather information, and pick your moment wisely. Sure, it’s cool to go for the Hail Mary and dive for that pistol on the kitchen counter, but are you really willing to risk it all on that one play? No, don’t be daft. 

Instead, be like Kara. She just kept to her strategy, and gathered every little bit of intel she could: the distinctive paintings on the walls, a hairbrush in the bathroom with long strands of red hair tangled up in it. Each little detail told her more about the kind of man she was dealing with. As the ordeal unfolded over the rest of that day, she observed not only the apartment itself, but the man inside it. 

She realised that, if she played into the role that he expected her to fulfil, then she might be able to curry favour and win some privileges. After the assault ended, the kidnapper started acting bizarrely normal — “playing house” as Kara put it. He wiped the kitchen counters, vacuumed, and washed the dishes.

Sensing an opportunity, she asked if she could sweep the floor, trying to appease him. In a sense, it worked — she was freed from her restraints, and allowed to work without a pair of cuffs on her wrists. 

But her captor’s watchful eyes stayed on her at every second, especially whenever she drifted even slightly towards the front door. It wasn’t quite time to make a run for it, but she did manage to register how that it was both locked and bolted — she wouldn’t be able to unlock it in time before he was on her. 

So Kara’s obedient act continued for the rest of the evening, until she was forced to lie down in bed next to this contemptible creep. Her short-lived freedom from restraints had come to an end, and to make matters worse her legs and cuffs were bound to the bed frame with rope. However, she noticed one last, crucial detail — the most important one of all: “I was in handcuffs, but they had a fuzzy ring around them, so that provided enough slack that one of them was not that tight.”

This was her chance…

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The Escape 

Lesson number four: when the opportunity for escape arises, take your time. Don’t blow it all by striking before the iron is hot. That’s why Kara pretended to fall asleep herself, waiting until she was sure the man next to her had actually drifted off. She closed her eyes, and tuned her ears, 

A few hours of tense waiting, and she heard the starting pistol she was waiting for — the man was snoring. After taking a few more moments to confirm he really was asleep, Kara pulled her thumb into her palm, and started slowly working her hand out of the loose side of the cuffs. Once one hand was free, she could then carefully lean forward and untie her legs.

The sun was just beginning to rise as she shuffled to the edge of the bed, watching the rising and falling of the man’s chest for any sign of disturbance. He hadn’t heard a thing. So she crept over the bedroom floor, and slowly opened the hallway door — one creak from the floorboards of hinges, and it was all over…

She managed to move down the dimly-lit hallway, and now stood facing the front door of her suburban prison. “This was my moment to escape.” A metal shutter was rolled over the entrance, which had to be shifted to the side with a loud scrape, before she could turn the lock, slide back the deadbolt, and darted out: “I just ran. I didn’t look back for a second.” 

The last pro-tip: when the moment to escape finally comes, grab the bull by the horns without a second thought. That’s exactly what she did, and 18 hours after her brutal ordeal began, Kara Robinson was breathing freely again. She never stopped to enjoy the feeling, sprinting out to the edge of the apartment complex’s parking lot, where she found two good Samaritans sitting in a car.

Breathless, with a pair of handcuffs still hanging off her wrist, she pleaded with them to take her to the closest police station. I know every parent tells their kid “don’t get into cars with strange men,” (it’s kind of the whole theme of the episode). But given the circumstances, I think we’ll give Kara a free pass here. 

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Minutes later, our intrepid escapee was sitting in front of an officer from the Columbia Police Department, detailing the nightmare she’d just been through. It took a little while to piece together a clear picture of exactly who she was and what she was claiming, however the girl herself was amazingly clear-sighted for someone who had just suffered hours of abuse.

One of the interviewing officers later said: “She was so, so alert. She was able to give us information down to the exactness of what was in the apartment.” This was all that careful observation paying off. Kara rattled off every detail about the man’s appearance, his car, his belongings — she even knew the name of the man’s dentist, for Christ’s sake!

Of course, the most important part was his home address. Rolling back through her memories, she was able to lead the officers to the very same door she had burst through just a short while before. 

But of course, by this point, her attacker had realised his mistake. His victim had slipped through his fingers, and he was long gone…

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The Kidnapper

So who, I wonder, was the man that kidnapped Kara from her friend’s garden on that day back in 2002. The police were able to glean a name from his place of residence, which was confirmed after Kara picked him out of a photo lineup; was Richard Evonitz, 38-year-old navy veteran and South Carolina native.

Our creepy magazine man now had a name, and a license plate number to go with it, both of which were broadcast to law enforcement around the area. Hopefully they would be able to catch him in their net before he was gone for good. 

In the meantime, the Richland County police were tasked with finding out who exactly they were dealing with. They soon discovered that this pathetic reprobate was… almost completely un-noteworthy. Seriously, if it weren’t for the whole ‘child predator’ thing, you’d struggle to find much to say about him. 

Friends and family described him as a completely normal guy — twice married — a good worker who was awarded the Navy Good Conduct Medal twice, and was well enough liked among his current colleagues at an air compressor factory. Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said at the time:  “What we’ve been able to discern, there were no signals, no signs. He was someone who just blends in.”

(Now, as a brief aside, I’d just like to chip in that I personally would 100% call the police if I saw someone that looked like Evonitz within 500 feet of a school. Maybe it’s the power of hindsight, but his pictures certainly aren’t giving off ‘reliable babysitter’ vibes.)

Regardless of what I think, on the outside it appeared that Evonitz lived a completely normal life in that little apartment, alongside his (much younger) wife, and elderly mother. The two ladies of the house were on a vacation to Walt Disney World together when Evonitz kidnapped the teenager and brought her to the apartment. In fact, that green Pontiac he used to kidnap the child actually belonged to his mother!

That’s the surface level analysis of Evonitz’s character, but as the police began to pick apart his life, they discovered that there was a very different man hiding behind this completely nondescript mask. Back in 1987 when he was 24 years old, Evonitz was caught up in a little public masturbation incident (happens to the best of us).

But this was no ordinary, wholesome public masturbation incident. No, not at all. While on leave in Florida, Evonitz went to the town of Orange Park, and exposed himself to a 15-year-old girl and her infant sister as they walked down the street. The girl was able to give a description to the police, and they soon identified him as the one responsible.

So when the future-kidnapper’s ship pulled back into port, the cops were waiting to arrest him. You have to wonder, if a guy like that can leave the navy with two Good Conduct Medals, are they not handing them out a bit too liberally? I mean, how low is the bar for ‘good conduct’, exactly?

Maybe they just never had one that said: “Good job becoming a registered sex offender.” That’s exactly what he was down in Florida. However, when he spent his post-service life hopping between various states and ultimately returning to his native South Carolina, he never bothered registering his criminal status in any other states.

Which, as you can imagine, is a bit of a problem. Especially when the offender himself candidly admits it wasn’t a one-off thing. Court documents reveal the: “Suspect stated he has a problem with masturbating in front of girls. When he feels the urge he drives around looking for a girl 18-19 years old short in height and has brunette hair.”

That’s the sort of guy you should really be keeping better track of… 

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But unfortunately, Evonitz was allowed to slip through the cracks. Afterwards, it appears as if he then evolved his methods from indecent exposure to outright assault; in his apartment were several stashes of guns and ropes — kits put together for the sole purpose of kidnapping young women. Clearly this man was methodical, it was very unlikely that Kara was his first victim.

And had she not escaped, perhaps another neighbourhood girl would have been next. Hidden in a footlocker in the kidnapper’s bedroom, the cops found something absolutely horrifying: a series of handwritten notes describing the appearance and addresses of various girls in the area. He had been stalking young girls for months — maybe even years — and collecting data about their suitability as victims.

Estimated ages, routines, addresses, physical descriptions. It must have made for some pretty skin-crawling reading, especially for the parents of the girls featured! Judging by these snippets, it appears as if he was honing in on one girl in particular, over in neighbouring Lexington County. One of the detectives on the case revealed: “He described her, her house, the garage, everything. He was very organized. I have no doubt he was a serial killer.”

Before they could confirm that hunch, they needed to confirm some other victims. Naturally, they started with the girl over in Lexington County — sending officers to her house and checking the database of missing people. Thankfully, that anonymous girl was still safe and sound, and she told a local paper: “It is kind of scary that some guy was out there looking at me. I want to know why he didn’t get me.”

I guess there isn’t any reasonable answer to the question — it was just blind luck that he botched another crime before he could move on to her, meaning she dodged having to ever meet him. However, the same can’t be said for every other girl that Evonitz set his eyes upon. 

Deeper down in that footlocker of despair were a set of older notes, scribbled in messy handwriting (probably as Evonitz was parked on the street, watching his potential victims walk home from school). Tucked in among these notes, were a pile of newspaper clippings, concerning the kidnapping and murder of three girls from Spotsylvania County, Virginia back in the 1990s. 

All of them taken in broad daylight, just like Kara. All of them found shortly after in bodies of water.   It was only then that it hit home for Kara, just how close to death’s door she was that night…

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The Virginia Murders

So this is where the story gets really interesting. Not only had Kara escaped her tormentor and saved her own life, she had inadvertently lifted the mask off one of South Carolina’s worst child predators of the decade!

Here’s how the connections were drawn. Among the depraved prowler’s notes, was the name of a street: Block House Road, Spotsylvania County, Virginia (about 7 hours northeast of Columbia, SC). That by itself doesn’t mean much, but underneath were descriptions of five unnamed girls; all young teens who lived around that area. 

And more worryingly, Richard Evonitz lived in the area for a while as well. He actually established himself in Virginia with his first wife in the 1990s, and only moved back to South Carolina a few years before,  when that marriage fell apart and the bank foreclosed on his house. Clearly he had been stalking the suburbs of Virginia throughout his 30s as well, searching for likely victims.

And tragically, it appears he found some. Among the notes were newspaper clippings about the disappearance of a pair of sisters who lived on Block House Road. When the investigators down in South Carolina called the Center for Missing Children, they confirmed that these two young girls had in fact gone missing from the exact street he had been watching, five years prior. Their names were Kristin and Kati Lisk, two sisters just 15 and 12 years old.

The Lisk sisters went missing from their own front yard on the 1st of May 1997, not long after arriving home from school. A five-day search for the girls ended in tragedy, when their bodies were found in the South Anna River in Hanover County, about 40 miles south from their home. 

Testing revealed they had bath water in their lungs, meaning they were taken to someone’s home between the abduction and the river. Curiously, the circumstances of their deaths bore a striking resemblance to another crime from the September before — from the exact same county. 

Which was especially strange, because the cops were absolutely certain they’d already caught the guy who did that one!

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The crime I’m referring to was the kidnapping of 16-year-old Sofia Silva, who went missing from her front doorstep on September 9th, 1996. That afternoon, Sofia sat on the front doorstep doing her homework, but when her older sister came out to check on her, she found only her notes and a can of soda left.

At first, Spotsylvania Sheriff Howard Smith treated Sofia as a runaway, which ran directly counter to the family’s description of a happy, carefree teenaged girl. Missing posters were distributed around the county, for a 5’ 5” girl with purple nail polish on her finger and toenails. 

Of course, this brought a wave of sightings from all over the place. Sofia was allegedly sighted as far away as a casino in Las Vegas (apparently she was so sick of her homework, she decided to quit high school and become a blackjack hustler).

The usual cast of parasites and miscreants crawled out of the woodwork too, with dozens of so-called psychics reporting visions of the girl’s whereabouts — or in some cases, the whereabouts of her remains. Tragically, the latter would prove to be more accurate: just over a month after she disappeared, Sofia Silva’s body was found abandoned in a swamp, wrapped up in a blue blanket.

As the cops cast their net around the area, the first people they focussed on were — naturally — the registered sex offenders. That’s how they found themselves on the doorstep of a 44-year-old man named Karl Michael Roush. He lived just four houses down from Sofia Silvia, and boasted convictions for indecent exposure, trespassing, and some 18th century Virginia law for “visiting a bawdy place” (I’ll let you speculate on just how bawdy we’re talking). 

Forensic testing of Roush’s van revealed some blue fibres which appeared to match the blanket found around the victim, as well as some pieces of hair and a fleck of purple paint. “You’ve got him,” the lab tech declared to the sheriff, when he called him with the results. 

Not only that, the girl’s family reported that the local sex offender had tried to talk to the girl in the past, as she walked past this house after school, which is about as red a flag as you could hope for. All of this was enough to have Roush arrested and charged with the girl’s death… which is precisely why the later discovery of the Lisk sisters threw such a spanner in the works for Sheriff Smith. 

Not only did the good sheriff have another two murder cases on his hands, the one he just solved was thrown wide open again. There were certain details of the three murders — most significantly the fact that intimate parts of their bodies had been shaved — which strongly suggested they were linked (clearly impossible with the bawdy public masturbator Roush behind bars). 

So the cops went back and reviewed the lab work which put him there. Sure enough, that over-confident forensic tech had actually botched some of the testing (meaning he was this close to sending an innocent man to jail for murder). Think about it: the case against Roush was devastatingly clear, so if the real killer had just avoided killing again, he’d have essentially committed the perfect crime.

But as things now stood, Roush was released, and the hunt for a new Virginian serial killer was set to begin. Sheriff Smith oversaw the DNA matching of over 400,000 convicted felons from up and down the East Coast, and thousands of leads were investigated. 

A $150,000 reward and a feature on America’s Most Wanted brought the tips pouring in by the bucketload, but despite all that, the years wore on with no results… 

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Until, as you already know, the same psychopath’s who killed those girls up in Virginia got sloppy. His next confirmed victim would prove to be more than he could handle, and now he was a wanted fugitive with the police hot on his heels. 

At this point, it was all but confirmed that he was the killer in the Lisk-Silva cases: the cops had the notes, the souvenirs, and the knowledge that our clumsy kidnapper was indeed a resident of Spotsylvania at the time. Which, if you remember, should have made him a prime suspect back then, since they went after local sex offenders first in the investigation. 

However, Evonitz was never flagged up, because he never bothered registering outside of Florida! Thankfully the requirements are a lot stricter nowadays, but it’s crazy to think it was once possible to slip through the cracks because law enforcement was essentially working on the honour system. 

And it doesn’t even bear to think how much Evonitz might have gotten away with in the future, had it not been for Kara Robinson’s escape. Those three murders would have gone unsolved, and who knows how many more!?

Oh but — now that I remember, we haven’t actually wrapped up his story yet; hop back to June 2002, and this creep is still on the run! 

And in fact, he would actually manage to stay a free man just long enough to pull off one last kill…

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Evonitz’s Final Kill

It’s 10pm, on Thursday the 27th of June — less than one week after Kara escaped from Evonitz’s apartment in South Carolina. The killer has managed to fly under the radar for several days, despite the fact that his face is plastered on every TV screen and newspaper in the country. 

That night, the officers of the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office down in Florida received a call from Evonitz’s own sister. Like the rest of his friends and family, she couldn’t believe the news when she heard it; her own brother was a sexually depraved serial killer. She thought there must have been some kind of mistake, until the fugitive called her on his way down to the Sunshine State, where she herself lived.

He cryptically confessed to “more crimes than he can remember” (which certainly suggests a hell of a lot more than the four we have on our tally). His sister — seeing as she wasn’t a total scumbag like her big bro — was disgusted, and had no problems tipping off the sheriff that Evonitz was currently parked at an IHOP restaurant off highway US41, in Sarasota.

He had managed to flee down there by changing the license plates on his silver Ford Escort. When the sheriff’s deputies arrived at the restaurant, they saw Evonitz’ beat-up old car sitting idle in the parking lot. But before they could confirm it was him sitting inside, the engine roared to life, and the car screeched towards the main road.

The cops were prepared — they had already laid spike traps at the exit, which blew out all four of the kidnapper’s tires as he pulled out onto the highway. Even that didn’t stop him. He then led a column of police cars on a high-speed chase down the west coast of Florida, swaying dangerously as he weaved between the late-night traffic at breakneck speed.  

With his flat tires wearing down to the rims, the cops managed to force Evonitz off the highway and into another restaurant parking lot on the Saratosa Bayfront. His car spun out of control, and 15 officers poured out of their squad cars to snatch him. 

Evonitz tried to make a run for it on foot, but quickly found himself surrounded. Back to the wall of the restaurant, K-9 units barking at the end of their leashes, our greasy creep had nowhere left to run. He pulled a pistol from his waistband, just as the cops released the hounds.

Knowing it would all be over the moment the dogs were on him, Richard Evonitz placed the muzzle of the gun against the roof of his mouth, and pulled the trigger…

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“More Crimes Than He Can Remember” 

Just like that, the man who kidnapped Kara Robinson (with the intention of killing her), escaped justice for good. And in her trademark badass style, the girl herself was absolutely furious. She told America’s Most Wanted “I wanted to go to trial and let him see me again and know I was his downfall. I wanted him to look at me and know that choosing me was the biggest mistake he ever made.”

Damn right. Thanks to her daring dash to freedom, a vicious serial killer was revealed to (and removed from) the world. After the dust settled on that Floridian showdown, investigators up in South Carolina got to work building a case that would never make it to court — definitive proof for the Lisk and Silva families of what happened to their daughters.

It proved easy enough — in fact, they managed to gather an impressive 200 pieces of physical evidence linking him to those cold cases, including fibres from his car boot, a blanket in his apartment, a carpet at his old home in Fredericksburg VA, and even more from the fluffy handcuffs which Kara slipped out of at the start of her escape. 

It seemed obvious beyond a doubt that they had finally got the right guy, confirmed in late August when the DNA results came back. Officially, those three murders could finally be closed. But what exactly did he mean by “more crimes than he could remember”?

Evonitz certainly has all the makings of a classic serial killer; one criminal profiler described him as a “sexually sadistic psychopath”. An analysis of his history revealed a troubled childhood dominated by his alcoholic father, and a culture of infidelity in his parents’ marriage which often saw young Richard passing messages to his father’s mistresses. 

And when the psychological profilers got to work on him, they drew attention to the fact that both of his ex-wives were much younger than him. When he was 25 he married a 17-year-old friend of his little sister, and his widow Hope Evonitz was also 17 when he married her at the age of 36. 

This explained why he had several periods of inactivity in his criminal career — his widow admitted that Evonitz was a fan of certain… niche bedroom activities… regarding age, role-play, and… consent. Some believe the bank spots in his rap sheet can be explained by the fact his wives were still young enough to fulfil his secret desires.

It’s worth noting here that, even after everything came out, Evonitz’s widow Hope still stood by him, saying: “He was my husband, he is still my husband, and I love him dearly.” Sorry love, but this man kidnapped children and abused them in your marital bed. It’s great to ‘stand by your man’ and all that but… there surely have to be some limits!

Anyway, since the killer was too cowardly to face the music and confess to the rest of his crimes, the cops were left trudging through his murky past to see if any other cold cases matched up to his whereabouts throughout the years. Sheriff Leon Lott of Richland County, South Carolina said: “We’re going to do his whole life’s tale. We’ll take it from the time he was born and go forward. It’s going to be quite extensive.”

That meant enlisting the help of the FBI to investigate the suspect’s stints in Florida, California, Texas, and Virginia — not to mention all of the places he must have gone while enlisted with the navy! 

Unfortunately his official tally only features the four confirmed crimes to date (however the task force did manage to unearth a few possible connections dating back to the mid 90s). Most intriguing of all, in Evonitz’s foot locker of souvenirs and scraps, he kept one piece of paper upon which he scribbled the words “29 north, Germanna Road.” 

The first part refers to US Highway 29, and the second to a state road in Virginia — it was a set of directions. But to where? Well, charting the killer’s path along those directions, officers arrived at the site of another grim discovery back in May 1996.

It was the body of Alicia Showalter Reynolds, who disappeared while driving from Baltimore to Charlottesville down Highway 29. Several witnesses reported driving past the 25-year-old while she was parked on the side of the highway, receiving assistance from an early-middle aged white man. 

Chillingly, several other women said they had been targeted along that stretch of road by this same man; he would flag them down through the window to tell them something was wrong with their car. Could this have been Evonitz, scouting out the area and practicing his routine for the eventual murder of this young woman?

It’s never been confirmed, and Reynolds’ case is still open. However, when a known serial killer’s stalking notes lead directly to the dumping ground of a body, it’d be a crazy coincidence if it wasn’t connected. 

And this is only one of the crimes Evonitz was connected with, among several other rapes and kidnapping throughout the mid nineties. Unfortunately, almost 20 years after the monster was unmasked, and with no further progress, it’s unlikely that any of those will ever be brought to a satisfactory close…

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Wrap-up: The Road to Recovery 

But that’s far too dismal a note to end on! So instead let’s take a last look at the real main character— there’s a reason we never gave Evonitz the title of the episode, after all. I promised you a something like a happy ending, and the story of Kara Robinson’s recovery is about as positive as you could hope for after such a horrific experience

I mean, Richard Evonitz thought he had it all laid out — right up until the point he would dump the poor girl’s body in a stream somewhere and move on with his life, welcoming back his mum and wife from Disneyland. But instead, he ended up dead on the floor of a Florida parking lot, while the young life he tried to cut short went on. 

Kara received the $150,000 reward for her part in solving the Lisk-Silvia case, but she got much more out of it than that:Following my escape, I was able to go to Virginia and meet with the families of the three girls. And that meant so much to me.”

After getting a taste of a life fighting crime (a little more hands-on than most of us ever will), she then went on to enrol at the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy for a career in victim’s services and sex crime investigation.

Eight years after that terrifying ordeal at the centre of the episode, she had turned her trauma into something positive, graduated from the academy, and began a career helping others. Another 10 years later, and she’s nowadays married and caring for her own two kids. 

Despite leaving law enforcement behind when she started a family, Kara now helps the survivors of the world through an unlikely medium: TikTok (no, it’s not just for stupid synchronised dances). With 220.7k followers and counting, she dispenses advice on recovering from trauma, general self help, and practical tips on how to avoid and escape the Richard Evonitzes of this world.

And I think it’s worth noting that her message — and by extension, ours today — is that surviving isn’t just about badass getaway stories. In reality, it’s not always possible to escape whatever tough situations life throws at you outright. Surviving trauma is just as much about healing, and making something positive out of situations which might have once seemed helpless. 

Now that’s the kind of uplifting note we can end on: a young woman who survived a serial killer and went on to make the world a better place for all. See, not everything has to be death, disaster, and misery…

Anyway, join us next time on the Casual Criminalist, for our regularly scheduled programming of death, disaster, and — depending on my mood — perhaps a light touch of misery…

___________________________

Dismembered Appendices

1. If you’re worried about the possibility of getting kidnapped yourself, maybe you’ll want to check out the TikTok page of Kara Robinson for yourself (@kararobinsonchamberlain). She shares useful tips like how to escape from zip ties, alongside newspaper clippings from her case, and general advice on how to support someone who’s been through something tough. Alternatively, just do what I do and scream/shoot at every car that passes by your house, just to be safe.

Illustration how to escape from zip ties
Illustration of how to escape from zip ties. By Wikihow.com, is licensed under BY-NC-SA

2. One thing that caught the eye of profilers in this case is how Evonitz seemed to have an affinity for water. For example, it appears as if he routinely disposed of his victims in water, and drowning appears to be the cause of death in at least 2/3 of his confirmed murders. It may all be linked to one traumatic childhood incident, in which his own father allegedly simulated drowning him in a bathtub or pool (depending on the version) as punishment for splashing the burgers at a family BBQ.

3. Few would envy Kara for her ordeal, but it did give her a bit of a head start at the police academy. In fact, while she was studying there her instructor actually presented a case study about a South Carolina girl who faced off with a serial killer and lived to tell the tale. Until the end of the lesson, her classmates had no idea the teen they were studying was actually sitting right next to them!

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