SOUTH DAYTONA — From the front yard of his mobile home, Fred Roberts can see the spot where his mother's body was found in a shallow grave a year ago.
A white concrete bench nearby commemorates the life of Goldie Mae Robinson, 78, whose death remains a mystery.
South Daytona police are still investigating the demise of Robinson and Arthur "Art" Sheldon, 67, who had cut themselves off from family and friends in the months before their remains were found at Daytona Twin Oaks mobile-home park.
The common denominator in their disappearances, police say, is Kimberly Dawn Smith, 45, their self-appointed caretaker.
Smith, who has a 25-year history of fraud- and theft-related convictions, is in jail awaiting trial on numerous counts of fraud and elder exploitation involving Robinson and Sheldon.
Investigators say she used their credit cards and money to buy meals, cars and a mobile home. Some of the purchases, they say, likely were made while Robinson's body lay buried outside the double-wide that Smith shared with her boyfriend, David Enos, 38.
Robinson lived across the street from Smith in the home her son now owns.
Investigators were surprised to find Sheldon's body Aug. 25 in a garbage can on the lot Smith and Enos rented. They thought they had located the missing Robinson, but cadaver dogs didn't find her body for nine more days.
A medical examiner has not determined how Robinson or Sheldon died, and no one has been arrested in connection with the deaths. But police say they have not given up. Neither have relatives of the victims.
"What would give me some sort of peace is knowing how my mom died," said Roberts, 59, Robinson's older son. "I don't think my mom will be able to rest in peace until this is all settled."
The case is hard to crack partly because the bodies spent months decomposing during the Florida summer and partly because nobody police think is involved will give them information. The Smiths and Enos have declined interview requests from the Orlando Sentinel.
"It's a horrible circumstance," said Robbyn Ackner, Sheldon's stepdaughter. "Both Goldie and he [Sheldon] did not deserve what happened to them. We're really hoping that justice will move forward."
Although Robinson was a widowed great-grandmother who lived on only $1,200 a month in Social Security, investigators think Smith and Enos were after her money. Enos was sentenced to four years of probation Monday for pawning Robinson's generator, a gift from Roberts to ensure she had power for a breathing machine forchronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Smith's son Samuel
Smith, 25, and his wife, Chrystal Smith, 26, are charged with felonies involving the use of Robinson's
card. Police say Adam Smith also sold Robinson's Ford Taurus, and his wife pawned her TV.
Frustrated because he couldn't reach his mother for at least two months, Roberts drove from his home in Baltimore to
in August 2010 after Kimberly Smith, who had befriended Robinson, falsely told him his mother was on her honeymoon. Robinson and her belongings had vanished, and Adam and Chrystal Smith and their two children were living in her home, investigators say.
Roberts called police Aug. 22, 2010.
Nobody reported Art Sheldon missing. But his disappearance was similar to Robinson's.
Sheldon had reconciled with his ex-wife and was living with her about 4 miles from where his body was dumped. Then in October 2008, Sheldon announced that he had found the woman of his dreams — Smith — and was leaving, Ackner said.
Smith later told police that she loved Sheldon and planned to marry him, a report states.
His family never spoke to Sheldon after late 2008, when he cashed a $90,000 certificate of deposit and gave Smith and Enos more than $43,000 to buy a mobile home, according to court documents. By January 2009, Adam and Chrystal Smith and their kids were living in Sheldon's mobile home in Port Orange.
A debit account was opened in Sheldon's name in May 2009, and someone withdrew nearly $23,000 in the next 15 months after directing his monthly Social Security checks of $1,422 there, police said.
In 2009, neighbors told police they saw Smith, dressed in a nurse's uniform, leaving Sheldon's home. Sheldon had ailments including
, but he was not an invalid, Ackner said. Smith is not a nurse.
In July 2010, Sheldon's former sister-in-law received email purportedly from him that said he was traveling with his sweetheart. Relatives don't think Sheldon sent it. The sister-in-law received a phone call that month from a man who said he was Sheldon but wasn't, Ackner said.
"There are a lot of people out there who have no conscience or morals," said Ackner, who lives in West Palm Beach.
Roberts, a retired warehouse worker, divides his time between Baltimore and his mother's home, where he keeps her ashes on a nightstand in her bedroom. Friends and family fondly remember Robinson's love of the movies, her peanut-butter fudge and her collection of ceramic angels and lighthouses.
Roberts ripped out an oleander tree that Kimberly Smith gave Robinson for
2010 and fixed up the inside of the home, which was trashed after Robinson disappeared. He spends a lot of time sitting on the memorial bench next to the once-wooded lot where Enos and Smith lived. It has been cleared and their mobile home removed.
Roberts gets angry when he thinks about how someone stole money that his mother earned from years working hard at a meatpacking company in Baltimore and at a Denny's restaurant and a movie theater in Volusia County. At night, he is tormented by thoughts that his mother may have suffered at the end.
"It's just your worst nightmare that you can possibly think of, and it continues," Roberts said. "It's a nightmare not knowing."