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The father of a fledgling Arizona-based geologist who has been missing for more than a year is relentlessly seeking answers related to what has happened to his son as he says the case is not receiving the attention it deserves.
Daniel Robinson was last seen when he suddenly left the Buckeye, Arizona, site, where he worked as a hydrogeologist, just minutes after arriving on June 23, 2021. Just one day before, he sent a strange text to a woman who said she barely knew him and had tried to cut off contact.
But the question is: Were there members of the public that, at some stage or another, saw Daniel Robinson?
On July 19 of that year, a rancher located Robinson’s 2017 Jeep Renegade battered and rolled onto its passenger side in what was described as a ravine.
Daniel was born without his right hand, “but that didn’t stop him growing up,” his father, David Robinson II, told Fox News Digital. He had no noteworthy medical or mental health history, and people who knew him did not believe he would ever harm himself, documents show.
Despite the months that have passed, Robinson’s concerned family – Daniel’s older brother, twin sisters, his mother and his father – have had to spearhead their own quest for answers in an investigation that they feel has not been thorough enough.
On June 23, 2022 – the one-year anniversary of Robinson’s disappearance – the Buckeye Police Department released a statement that touched briefly on investigators’ efforts, and asked anyone with information to call (623) 349-6411.
“When a loved one is missing, it is a terrifying, confusing and stressful time for families and our entire community,” the Buckeye Police statement read. “Investigators continue their pursuit of answers that can bring Daniel home and provide closure for the Robinson family and the many people who have been touched by his case.”
A FATHER’S UNRELENTING SEARCH
David Robinson spoke with Fox News Digital for nearly 40 minutes about his continued efforts to find his son even when he has felt as though the police or the parties involved have not given the case sufficient attention.
He left his home in South Carolina and moved to Arizona to continue to search for his son, the youngest of four. He said he has hired a private investigator and is continuously raising money through a GoFundMe page to be able to afford to pursue his son’s case.
When asked if he had any images of his son he would like to share, he provided Fox News Digital with 45 photos.
“I have to stay strong for Daniel,” he told Fox News Digital.
The father, who has a military background and served two tours in Afghanistan, said he is putting forth “what I’ve been taught.”
“Just because I’m retired doesn’t mean I stopped being a soldier,” he said. “My son, he’s my mission. He’s my new mission.”
Ted Williams, a renowned attorney and former homicide detective, noted that police are likely doing “a great deal” behind the scenes. But he said a missing person investigation changes “markedly” as time goes on.
“The closer to the time that the person is missing, the better are the opportunities and chances at getting good physical evidence,” he said. “The longer a case goes on, the evidence itself, normally under circumstances, will disappear.”
He added: “But the question is: Were there members of the public that, at some stage or another, saw Daniel Robinson?”
Williams stressed to Fox News Digital that the case of Robinson’s disappearance deserves as much attention as others have gotten.
“I do not believe that all cases concerning folk of color that go missing get nearly the same treatment that cases of the missing and specifically missing White women get,” the Fox News contributor said. “But the longer a case is out there, the more the evidence itself becomes lacking.”
THE POLICE REPORT
Robinson, now 25, was “not making sense” on the morning of his disappearance, a co-worker told police. Robinson had been to one worksite and had arrived at the second location, in Buckeye, around 9 a.m. local time on June 23.
At the second worksite, located one-half mile west of Cactus Road and Sun Valley Parkway, Robinson “was saying things that did not make sense like asking if [his coworker] wanted to go rest and then asked if he wanted to go to Phoenix to rest,” according to a police report provided to Fox News Digital.
Robinson stayed at the jobsite for about 15 minutes before “he suddenly left.”
His colleague “saw Daniel wave to him as if he was waving goodbye,” the report later states. “Daniel didn’t say anything, walked over to his Jeep and drove away from the area … Daniel was last seen driving south on the dirt road from the job site.”
It is believed to have been the last time anyone saw him.
By 7 p.m., Robinson’s family had grown concerned after they heard from his coworkers and were unable to get in touch with him. One of Robinson’s sisters, who lived in Phoenix, went to check his Tempe apartment, but had no success. David Robinson called the police.
Bank records from around the time of Robinson’s disappearance show he made a purchase at a Buckeye Shell service station on June 23, the day he was last seen. He also went to a Waffle House restaurant for dinner the night before.
Any information about a more recent bank transactions were redacted from the police report, if they exist at all.
Investigators also created a Uconnect account for Robinson’s Jeep to attempt to locate the vehicle. The Jeep’s GPS location showed “0.0/0.0,” and Uconnect’s “course” information was identified as being, “null degrees at null km/h,” the police report states.
Police also appeared to have gone back and forth with Robinson’s cell phone provider in an attempt to determine the device’s whereabouts. The provider ultimately agreed to run a search dating back to June 21, but said there was “no location data,” according to the report. A remote phone search, police said, yielded no success.
‘In love with this woman’
Family and friends recalled how in the days before his disappearance, Robinson had begun “acting strange,” police said.
When asked by police, his sister recalled an instance when Daniel went to her apartment and “would just sit there for about 30 minutes and wouldn’t say anything,” the report states.
“She said she tried to talk to him but he would just sit there and not respond,” the report adds. “He then walked out of the apartment.”
In the weeks before his disappearance, Robinson had told friends and family about a woman he had recently met. He told his sister “he was in love with this women (sic) and ultimately made it sound as if they were in a relationship together,” the police report states.
I’ll either see you again or never see you again.
Investigators ultimately caught up with the woman, who had a different portrayal of events.
The woman told police she met Robinson on the night of June 12, when he was working as an Instacart delivery worker.
“Daniel was the person who delivered their food that night,” the police report states. She “said Daniel was very nice and she and her female friend asked Daniel if he wanted to hang out with them at that time.”
She allegedly told police she and her friend “were drunk” and she “shouldn’t have invited a stranger into her home.”
After leaving, Robinson had forgotten a “canopy” outside the woman’s home, and the pair texted after that night about him going to retrieve it, the report said. She responded: “Yes you can pick it up whenever!!”
But when he showed up without her permission while she was not home, the woman grew uncomfortable, she told police. He began to text her more frequently, and allegedly continued to show up unannounced. His messages to her also began to change.
“I couldn’t stop thinking about you,” he wrote to her on June 17, according to the report. On the afternoon of the 19th, he allegedly wrote: “Can we hangout?”
Hours later, he allegedly sent her a message at 12:14 a.m. that stated: “I love you.”
He texted her the next morning, and she responded just over an hour later, writing: “Honestly you showing up at my house unannounced made me extremely uncomfortable. I will not be home today but I don’t see us hanging out any time soon,” the report states.
Robinson allegedly responded, asking her if she had “any doubt.” She never answered. He texted her again the next day, and another time four hours later, when he said he was outside of her house.
After continued back-and-forth for hours, Robinson asked the woman if she hates him, to which she responded: “I don’t hate you but please leave me alone.”
He responded, “You’re right.”
The next day – June 22, 2021 – he sent his final message to the woman: “The world can get better, but I’ll have to take all the time I can or we can, whatever to name it. I’ll either see you again or never see you again.”
The Buckeye Police Department’s questions about the young woman with whom Daniel had been involved reminded David of one of his most recent phone calls with his son, just one or two days before he went missing.
“He did mention the young lady,” Robinson recalled. “And that’s one of the things I did discuss with the Buckeye Police Department when he was inquiring on us of anything we could think of.”
He said his son told him when he met the woman, and shared details “that did become relevant later on.” Robinson said he thought, at the time, that he and Daniel were just having a normal “father-son” conversation.
He didn’t realize how relevant the conversation would later become.
When Buckeye Police approached David Robinson about what the woman had allegedly said about his, he said it “bothered” him.
“That concerned me a lot,” he said. “If he’s making someone feel uncomfortable, that wouldn’t fly right with me.”
‘A hard hat … filled with rain water’
Weeks after Daniel’s disappearance, on July 19, 2021, police received a call from a rancher who spotted Robinson’s Jeep in a ravine less than three miles from his work site.
It was “on its passenger side,” the police report states, though its exact location was redacted.
“The vehicle had significant damage and appeared to have had a front impact with the dirt and rolled before resting on the passenger side,” the report further states.
All the airbags appeared to have been deployed, the car was still in “drive” and the driver’s side seatbelt appeared to have been buckled at the time of the crash, the report states.
Police investigators determined that the vehicle’s speed increased immediately before impact. “More than 40 ignition cycles were recorded after the crash,” police said in a public timeline of events.
Even more strange, investigators recovered at the scene a pair of inside-out jeans, a t-shirt, two inside-out socks, a pair of “brown work type boots” and “a faded orange vest with the [redacted] company logo,” the report states. They also found “what appeared to be a wallet.”
The Jeep appeared to have suffered rain damage. Inside the vehicle was Robinson’s cell phone, his car and home keys and a backpack with work equipment, police said. They also found “a hard hat inside filled with rain water.”
It was not clear where inside the vehicle the keys were found.
But Daniel or his remains were nowhere to be found. And police said they did not see any blood or signs of an injury at the scene.
David Robinson told Fox News Digital the news of the SUV’s discovery was “very devastating.”
“It was one of the hardest moments in my life,” he said, with pause, “even to this day, to even think about what I saw with my eyes and the way the vehicle appeared to me.”
Despite the police department’s statements that they conducted forensics searches for DNA on and inside the vehicle, the elder Robinson said he is not satisfied. He is working to raise the funds needed to pay for such examinations himself.
At the end of July 2021, news emerged of a skull discovered south of where Robinson’s vehicle was located. After four days of hope, investigators determined it was not a match to the missing man.
Fox News’ Sarah Rumpf contributed to this report.