Just how powerful the internet is or how much it has benefited our lives will only be clear in years to come. This system, the one that allows us to write for RCC, is pretty new. In 30 years information has gone from snippits and scrap books to within the tap of a keyboard. What is clear is the reach it affords ordinary people. People like those that want to know the truth about what happened to their friend and mother.
Robin Pope had split up with her husband Wayne. They had been together for over 20 years. There are allegations that Mrs Pope had had an affair. This was said to have been with her gym instructor from the place she worked out in to recover from cancer treatment.
Whatever the reasons for the split were, on the night she was last seen she was no longer living at the family home.
1st March 2013
At around 10.30 pm she was visiting her old house. Chesapeake Bay is close to Washington DC and is a beautiful place. The waters lap at the shores of Kent Island. Beach Road runs along the western edge of the island and at about 10.30 pm a cell tower picked up Robin Pope’s signal nearby. She was only a short distance from the house.
In a True Crime Daily documentary friends of the victim and her daughter give background to that night. Mrs Pope had moved into rented accommodation which did not allow pets. She had an aging Great Dane that she doted on. In the group’s account the soon to be ex husband had said he had had the dog put to sleep. He hadn’t, but it spooked Mrs Pope who feared for the dog. She also needed to pick up some equipment for her fence erecting business.
She drove to the house. The conversations she was having on the way over were with Wayne. He said he fell asleep and awoke at 11.30pm. Outside was Mrs Pope who was asleep in her car. He woke her up and said that he was going out as his lawyer had advised he should not be alone with her. That was the last he saw of her.
When he returned, just after 1 am, her car was there but she and the dog were missing. Her phone and handbag were still in the car.
Her dog, Bella, was found washed up not far away a day later. The dog was examined and found to have some water in its lungs but the consensus was it had died of hypothermia. One theory from a vet is that bruising on its feet suggested it was trying to get out of the freezing March waters of the Chesapeake Bay. Another issue is Great Danes are not enthusiastic swimmers so it is unlikely it went swimming for its own reasons. On 23rd March Mrs Pope was found floating in the bay by a man who was fishing from a dock.
Due to the decomposition that had taken place to this day there is no definitive cause of death. Water was found in Mrs Pope’s lungs as well, but this could have been from absorption as was explained by a detective who was working the case.
Sightings and Alibi Of Wayne Pope
After leaving his wife he is seen on a CCTV camera buying a coffee in Grasonville. Piecing together the distances this place is a short drive from the home address. This was at 1.07 am. He said he had also visited his parent’s home to swap his vehicle. In the True Crime Daily film it is said the parents cannot confirm this. I assume it is because they would have been asleep. So in effect he has no real alibi for the time from 10.30pm until a little after 1 am.
He calls at one of Mrs Pope’s friend’s place. He appears distraught and says he has returned home and found his wife’s car, however, there was no sign of her or the dog. He wanted help and advice. They gave it. They checked her rented home and tried to figure out where she had gone. At about 3 am they advised him to call the police.
Community led searches took place and the car was examined. It was not until her body was found that anything solid was discussed. They simply had a missing woman who was last seen very close to the water. All seems very confused now all these years later. At least to me one thing is less confused.
I watched as the detective said that Mrs Pope was wearing high heels when she was found. A friend said that earlier on the 1st March she had said she was at a job interview. This would have been at about 6 pm. So at 10.30 to 11.30 pm she has contact with her husband with whom things have not been sunlight and roses.
So if I understand the situation correctly Wayne Pope leaves because of lawyer advice. Mrs Pope then goes in the house. The important thing is that the house is right on the shore. Large rocks provide a breakwater.
It is possible that Mrs Pope let the dog out into the grounds around the house and it went into the water. She then would have little regard for what was on her feet. She then tries to assist the dog. It would make more sense for her to have taken her shoes off though would it not?
Another possibility seems even less likely. This would be she went close to the water and fell in causing the dog to then go into the water. Why would a woman walk over large rocks while wearing high heels?
Is all I have just written probable though? I grant you it is not impossible but on a windswept cold night, given the backdrop of issues, are they the more probable scenarios? It was all an accident?
If not an obvious accident what else could have seen both of them in the frigid water?
How about we look at Mr Pope? He says he heard that his wife was on the way over. His lawyer had said that they should not be at the house alone with Mrs Pope. Her last cell ping was within two minutes of the home. So why was he still there? Why was he not in his car waiting to drive away when she arrived? That might have been the the thing to do if she no longer had keys to the home.
According to the friend when he arrived at her house saying he could not find Mrs Pope he said other things that are strange. He said that he and his wife were in a ‘good place’ and were going to go to counselling. Okay, If relations were improving and cordial how come he felt the need to leave the home when she was there?
I am thinking about this aspect because in many ways he did not take his lawyers advice anyway. In his own account he fell asleep and when he woke he saw his wife in the car asleep. Instead of keeping his distance he went up to the car and had contact with her while alone they were alone at the house.
For me this case is a good example of how we can be over reliant on technology and then be disappointed when we do not solve mysteries like this. Evidence places the victim at the scene because the cell signals tie with Mr Pope saying she was there. Then nothing.
I have not seen any mention of his phone being tracked on the journey he made to Grasonville where he got the coffee or beyond. I watched the detective talk in a way that suggested he did not believe Mr Pope. So I take it no such evidence exists.
Things That Don’t Make Sense At All
Sometimes a single thing sticks out in an account that makes no sense. If those points are raised by unofficial sources I take no notice. In the murder of Reeva Steenkampf, by Oscar Pistorius, one thing stuck out that for me proved he had deliberately killed his girlfriend in the bathroom of his house. It was not great evidence for a court. It was something that simply flew in the face of all reason. It had to do with his professed fear of burglary.
It was used as a defence in what he claimed was an accidental shooting. He was so bothered about crime he did not check who he was shooting at. Convinced there were burglars he was terrified and he fired through the door of the toilet cubicle. On the otherside was Ms Steenkampf.
Pistorius lived in a gated area which was patrolled by guards. In previous months he had said to friends he could not rely on the protection of the guards because they could be paid off to allow raiders access. On the night of the killing he gave evidence he had gone to sleep leaving multiple windows open. It wasn’t the only issue with his version of events but it sealed it for me.
I asked myself how could a man be terrified of burglary as he slept but sleep with windows wide open?
In this case I have no such certainty but there is one aspect that comes close to being of similar significance. Mr Pope said he was reconciling with his wife. He said they were in a ‘good place.’ How come he fell asleep when expecting her to arrive at any minute? His wife’s cell phone pinged at 10.30pm very close to the house. So the story is she just parked and fell asleep coincidentally at the same time he husband fell asleep inside?
Of course innocent is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. It would not be the first time that something totally unexpected turned an enquiry upside down. I hope the several children and many friends of this lady get some peace one day.