FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. (TCD) -- Police from multiple departments announced Friday they have a suspected serial killer in custody who they have dubbed the "shopping cart killer."
Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis said in a news conference his department has been working closely with the Harrisonburg Police Department as well as others to find and identify victims they believe were killed by Anthony Robinson. Davis said in the press conference he has used the term serial killer "sparingly in my three decades in this profession."
Davis said they named the suspect the "shopping cart killer" because "he transports their bodies to their final resting place literally in a shopping cart." So far, two of the four victims have been positively identified. One is tentatively identified and the other is unknown. Davis said the victims' "state of decomposition was so bad" that it will take time to identify the women.
Robinson was arrested in November after two women, Tonita Lorice Smith and Allene "Beth" Redmon, were found dead in a vacant lot in Harrisonburg. He was charged with two counts of murder and two counts of concealing, transporting, or altering a dead body. Police said at the time Smith and Redmon’s bodies were discovered "within a short distance of each other, though their deaths took place at different times."
Investigators believe Robinson targeted women using dating websites and meeting them at a motel. The victim they tentatively identified is 29-year-old Cheyenne Brown. Family reportedly identified a tattoo on Brown’s body, but Davis cited the state of decomposition as a reason for the lack of 100 percent certainty.
Major Ed O’Carroll, who runs the Fairfax County Police Department’s major crimes and cyber and forensics units, said in the press conference that officers from the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C., contacted the department on Dec. 7 because they had video footage showing Brown getting on the metro at the Huntington stop on Nov. 30, but she never returned.
Detectives had reason to believe Brown traveled to the Moon Inn. Investigators and a cadaver dog searched the inn but did not find any evidence. On Dec. 15, investigators returned to the area around the Moon Inn and reportedly found a shopping cart, as well as a "lone container." Investigators looked inside the container and observed what appeared to be human remains, which they believed were Brown’s. Investigators then found remains of an unknown victim. Davis described the vessel as a "large plastic container."
O’Connell said, "Detectives believe their deaths were at the hands of this suspect."
Davis said the women died from "trauma to the body."
Robinson is reportedly from the D.C. area, but investigators say he traveled all the way into central Virginia and possibly elsewhere to find his victims. Davis noted Robinson has a "remarkable absence of criminal history."