The son of Goldie Robinson, a South Daytona woman who was missing for more than two months, said Tuesday that he is heartsick to learn the second body found in the neighborhood where she lived was his mother.
"My mom was a sweet, dear lady," a distraught Fred Roberts said. "To throw her out like a piece of garbage — how could someone do that to anybody?"
That is the question South Daytona police and investigators from the Volusia County State Attorney's Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement are trying to answer. On Tuesday afternoon, investigators went to the Orange County Jail to re-interview Robinson's neighbor, Kimberly Smith, 44.
Whether she will provide insight is doubtful, authorities said.
"She's been untruthful with us," said Lt. Ron Wright, a South Daytona police spokesman.
Smith was the "self-appointed caretaker" of 78-year-old Robinson and Arthur Sheldon, 67, a divorced man from Port Orange whose body was found Aug. 25 about 25 feet from where Robinson's was discovered Friday, Wright said. Both bodies were discovered in woods behind Smith's unit in Daytona Twin Oaks Mobile Home Park where she lived with her boyfriend, David Eons, 37.
On Tuesday, neighbors established a small memorial at the park with a sign that reads, "Our prayers are with you."
Sheldon's body was identified through dental records. Robinson wore false teeth, so a medical examiner used fingerprints, Wright said. A forensic anthropologist will try to determine the cause of death and how long ago Sheldon and Robinson died, he said.
"We don't have a homicide," Wright said. "We have a suspicious death."
Still, given that Robinson's body was buried — dogs trained to find cadavers led officers to her homemade grave — and Sheldon's was covered by underbrush and palmettos, detectives suspect foul play.
Two former prosecutors said a murder case hinges on what the Medical Examiner's Office comes up with. Toxicology tests and the anthropologist's examination of the bones are critical, they said.
"Just by the way a body decomposes, a medical examiner can tell you a lot about the manner of death and the cause of death," said Bob Deckle, a law professor at the University of Florida who was a prosecutor for 30 years in North Florida.
Even if a homicide case cannot be proved, a criminal case still could be made, said Philip Townes, a former Orange-Osceola prosecutor.
"I would look at who is the caretaker and, of course, if somebody benefited financially, used their checkbooks or cashed their Social Security checks," Townes said.
Robinson lived on $1,200 a month in Social Security and had a few nice knick-knacks that she had saved for over the years, said her son, who lives in Baltimore. Smith's 24-year-old son, Samuel "Adam" Smith, last month was living in Robinson's mobile home, and he sold her car, authorities said. Two other vehicles had been bought in Robinson's name recently, and someone used her ATM card since her disappearance, investigators said.
Kimberly Smith is serving 364 days in the Orange County Jail on an unrelated violation-of-probation conviction. She has a history of convictions for identity theft, forgery, grand larceny, embezzlement, grand theft and armed burglary. Smith was sentenced to five years in prison for writing bad checks.
Roberts, 58, grew alarmed because he had been unable to reach his mom for a couple of months, and Smith told him his mother had gotten married, he said. Smith even provided him with a photo, he said. Police doubt its authenticity.
When Roberts arrived at his mother's home Aug. 22 to find out what was going on, he found that someone had removed most of her possessions and apparently was living there.
Little is known about Sheldon. But Robinson, a church-going great-grandmother, was a retired Denny's waitress and manager who worked in a meatpacking plant in Baltimore in her younger years. She quit her job at a movie theater in Ormond Beach in March after she had trouble making correct change and got frustrated, a co-worker said. She liked to go to the movies and shopping at Wal-Mart and Sam's Club and would have shared the little she had if someone had asked, her son said.
"We just need to go on from here," Roberts said. "There's a lot of unanswered questions, and I'm hoping they'll be answered soon. My nightmare still continues until I get to the bottom of it."
Susan Jacobson can be reached at email@example.com or 407-540-5981.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times