On the night she disappeared, Taylor Robinson was most likely confronted by someone she had a long and significant relationship with, someone who knew where she worked as a private health-care provider in the evening, someone she would have been comfortable meeting outside the house, in the middle of the night, in her bare feet.
The person who met the 19-year-old Akron woman that night wanted Taylor to agree to something — to say or do something, or not say or do something — and didn’t like Taylor’s response, resulting in harm to her.
What happened that night is probably not a secret: At least one or more people either witnessed the event from the shadows, or at least know enough details to solve this three-month-old mystery.
And while the reappearance of three Cleveland women 10 years after their disappearance has given the family hope that Taylor is still alive, it is more likely that she is not, and that her body is hidden somewhere not too far from Akron.
Those are the general conclusions of Tim Dimoff, a former Akron police detective who has operated his own private investigation and security firm for 20 years and has profiled other missing person cases.
Dimoff said he met with Taylor’s mother, Carmella Robinson, and stepfather, Jeff Rucker, and after seeing the pain they were going through he agreed to independently investigate their missing daughter’s case for $1.
“I felt their emotion. They’re good people, and this is my community like anyone else,” he said.
Dimoff, founder and president of SACS Consulting and Investigative Services Inc., said he visited the crime scene and interviewed several family members, friends, co-workers and others in his research over the past month.
“The street has ears,” he said, explaining his police experience taught him there are people who might be willing to open up, but not to authority figures.
On Wednesday, he wanted to share his conclusions publicly as a way of keeping Taylor’s story in the news and on the minds of people who still have information to share.
“Basically, I developed a profile of potentially what happened at the scene and tried to nail down what kind of person was involved in the criminal behavior,” he explained.
He wouldn’t name names and didn’t want to put too fine a point on his list of suspects, but in his mind, he has narrowed it down to a couple of people.
He said he’s reached out to Akron police but hasn’t had the opportunity to share his findings with them yet.
Akron Sgt. Brian Harding of the juvenile and missing persons unit said he looks forward to learning more about Dimoff’s ideas. He agreed that sometimes people feel freer when talking to someone other than police, “and however we get the information, we’re just happy to get it.”
He’s also grateful for any help keeping Taylor’s story in the public consciousness.
“We’re still working tips, and even the smallest thing somebody can think of could be important,” he said.
Robinson, a Kent State University student, was last seen May 3, when her mother dropped her off at a Kipling Street home where she worked as a private health-care provider.
When her mother returned the next morning, Robinson was not at the home. Only her coat and shoes remained at the house. Neither her relatives nor police believe Robinson willingly left the area without contacting her mother or another family member.
Dimoff said he’s confident that Taylor was not the victim of a random act of crime.
Whoever met her at the door of her client’s house that night, “she definitely knew them quite well,” he said. With no sign of a struggle and her willingness to leave the house without shoes suggests “it was someone she interacted with over months, or years.”
Through interviews, Dimoff learned there were some conflicts going on in Taylor’s life, including with a former boyfriend.
There were also communications with someone that were so difficult, she broke down crying, but would not confide the source to friends or family.
“So I believe this person was someone she had a conflict with, and it was taking place before she disappeared,” Dimoff said. “It was not someone who stopped by and got in an argument. It was someone who had an ongoing dispute. Maybe there was information [Taylor] had that they didn’t want revealed, or it could be a relationship issue.”
He doesn’t get the sense that what happened to Taylor was premeditated. More likely, he said, things escalated when the person didn’t like the way Taylor responded during the late-night visit on May 3.
Also, “I don’t believe this is the type of person who has committed murder before or anything like that, but a person who has been engaged in other kinds of confrontations and may be on the edge of maybe other criminal behavior,” Dimoff said. “A control-power-type person. A person who gets out of hand when things don’t go their way.”
He also feels very confident that others know exactly what happened to Taylor.
“We really firmly believe this situation is not a secret. Sometimes a crime happens and the person who is perpetrating the crime is the only one that knows it and they don’t share any of their discomfort or threats or what they might do before it happens or after it happens,” Dimoff said. “In this case, I’m very confident there are other people in Akron, Ohio, who know exactly who’s responsible for Taylor’s disappearance.”
Dimoff said he is hoping to do more interviews, and has people helping him try to locate others who could have information.
“I am still getting people who are calling me in confidence because they are starting to develop a comfort zone with us. … Once the family shows they have confidence in us, that trickles down to the community and you get people who might come forward when they see we’re sincere,” he said.
Harding said he is interested in knowing how Dimoff arrived at some of his conclusions.
Much of what he said fits the police department’s own profile “but there are maybe more details there I would want to know” from him, Harding said.
And while Dimoff may feel strongly about a couple of suspects, Harding said his unit is being careful to “leave every option open. Naturally, sure there are people we think would be more likely and have more access or have things going on in the background [that make them a suspect],” Harding said, but police would also look just as hard at a tip about a stranger.
Dimoff said there is always hope that Taylor is being held captive somewhere. Recent cases in the news show that is always possible, but he said he can’t ignore personal experience as a police officer and a profiler that indicate she’s not alive.
If Taylor is dead, the perpetrator would not want the body discovered. A stranger might not care as much, but someone with a strong connection to the deceased will worry more about DNA or other evidence connecting them to the victim.
But it is unlikely they would have traveled far to hide the remains.
“They don’t like to hang onto the body too long. She’s probably not in the immediate area, if she’s not alive. But she’s not going to be in Lorain, Ohio,” he said.
Taylor’s stepfather, Jeff Rucker, said the family is grateful to have Dimoff involved.
“He’s done a lot in the little time he’s been with us,” he said.
In the meantime, they are simply praying that Taylor defies the odds and is found alive.
“We still have hope,” Rucker said in a broken voice. “We don’t have a choice.”
Anyone with information about Taylor’s disappearance is asked to contact Akron police at 330-375-2490.
Anonymous tips can be left at http://ci.akron.oh.us/ASP/tip.html or by calling Summit County Crimestoppers at 330-434-COPS (2677). There is a reward fund through Crimestoppers; people may donate to it in Taylor’s name.
Dimoff can be reached at 330-255-1101 ext. 303, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.