About Amy Umble:
Amy Umble is health reporter for The Free Lance-Star

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A story of strength and cunning

Pictured at yesterday's graduation ceremony are, clockwise from top left, Spotsylvania County Sheriff's Office Det. Twyla Demoranville, Kara Robinson, Spotsylvania County Sheriff Howard Smith and Phyliss Silva, mother of one of Evonitz's victims. (Photo by Robert A. Martin/The Free Lance-Star)

Forgive me for going off-topic today, but yesterday’s assignment, covering Kara Robinson’s speech to the new police academy graduates, brought back many memories.

Yesterday was the first time that I had ever seen Robinson, and I have not talked with her. But six years ago reporter Kari Pugh and I learned a lot about her. The newspaper sent us to Robinson’s home town in South Carolina. We retraced the steps of Richard Marc Evonitz, the man who abducted her in 2002. We also talked with police officials and others who were involved in her case and the three murders that Evonitz committed here.

We learned that Evonitz had another girl in mind on the day he abducted Robinson. He had scouted the other girl and kept detailed notes about her. But for some reason she was not where he expected her to be. So, pretending to be a magazine salesman, he grabbed Robinson, a neighbor of the girl’s.

Evonitz arrogantly believed he could snatch anyone to play out his evil fantasies.  He was wrong. In Robinson, 15 at the time, he got more than he expected. As Robinson explained yesterday, she was patient, confident and strong, and she eventually escaped.

Richland County, S.C., Sheriff Leon Lott was one of many police officers who were impressed with her. “She played him,” Lott told us. “She was a very smart victim. She used her wits and went along enough for him to get his confidence to where he felt comfortable. In essence, she outsmarted him.”

(Today’s article about Robinson, with video of her, is available here.)