FAIRFAX, Va. (WRIC) — He contacted his victims through dating apps, convinced them to meet him in motels, then killed them and transported their bodies to secluded areas in shopping carts.
Chiefs of Police from Fairfax County and Harrisonburg spoke at a press conference on Friday, revealing what they know so far about the so-called “shopping cart killer,” who they believe to be connected to at least four deaths in Northern Virginia.
Fairfax Chief of Police Kevin Davis said the multi-jurisdictional task force investigating the crimes believed the deaths to be the work of a serial killer.
“That is a phrase that I’ve used sparingly in my three decades in this profession,” Davis said.
Anthony Robinson, 35, of Washington, D.C., has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder and two felony counts of concealing, transporting or altering a dead body, according to ABC affiliate WHSV. Police suspect him of being the “shopping cart killer.”
Authorities said that two victims have been positively identified and one has been tentatively identified by family members. A fourth victim remains unidentified. However, the police believe there are more victims.
Harrisonburg Chief of Police Kelley Warner said Robinson was arrested as a result of video surveillance and cell phone records placing him near the location in Harrisonburg where two of the victims, Allene Elizabeth Redmon, 54, of Harrisonburg, and Tonita Lorice Smith, 39, of Charlottesville, were found.
ABC affiliate WHSV reported in November that the bodies of two women had been discovered in an empty lot in Harrisonburg. On Friday, Warner confirmed that the Harrisonburg Police Department identified those two female victims on Nov. 23, their bodies found in an open lot in a commercial district in the City of Harrisonburg.
It was then, Warner said, that they made the connection to an earlier disappearance in Washington, D.C.
“Then we began this coordinated effort to track down more victims, unfortunately, who died at the hands of this shopping cart killer,” Warner said.
The victim discovered earlier this week in Fairfax is believed to be 29-year-old Cheyenne Brown of Washington, D.C., who disappeared on Sept. 30 of this year.
Fairfax police searched for Brown earlier this month, working from information that included records showing Brown had ridden the Metro from DC to a station in Alexandria, Va., as well as digital records locating her near the Moon Inn.
At the time, despite searching the area with cadaver dogs, Fairfax police came up empty-handed. But when they returned on Wednesday, they discovered a shopping cart discarded in a wooded area – and in it, upon further investigation, the remains of two people.
While the remains have not yet been confirmed as those of Cheyenne Brown, Davis said family members identified a tattoo as belonging to her. The identity of the other victim is still unknown.
Major Ed O’Carroll, Commander of the Major Crimes and Cyber and Forensics Bureau, said they were working through digital records obtained after Robinson’s arrest.
“Detectives are hoping that further examination of these records that we have and more that are coming will provide more information on who the second victim is,” O’Carroll said.
Robinson is currently being held in Rockingham County.
“The good thing is, he’s in custody,” Davis said. “The challenge that remains is identifying other victims.”
As of Friday, Robinson is believed to be connected to the deaths of four victims. But authorities said that he was transient, and was known to have traveled as far north as New York. Police said that they are in contact with law enforcement agencies in and around Virginia to determine where else Robinson may have traveled and could have harmed others.
“We believe that there may be other victims in the area and throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia, and we need to act now,” Davis said. “He’s behind bars right now, but that still doesn’t take away from the urgency that exists to identify any other victims that might be out there, literally, beyond the Commonwealth of Virginia and up the East Coast.”
8News reached out to Virginia State Police (VSP), as well as the Chesterfield County Police Department, Hanover County Sheriff’s Office, Henrico County Police Department and City of Richmond Police Department. The latter local law enforcement agencies said that at this time, they are not aware of local incidents that may be connected to Robinson. A VSP spokesperson said that the agency had “no comment at this time.”
O’Carroll also noted that while Robinson is the focus of this investigation, which is still considered to be in the early stages, authorities have not ruled out the possibility of multiple suspects.
Anyone with information is urged to call (703) 246-7800, and tips can also be submitted anonymously at 1-866-411-TIPS.
You can watch the full news conference below: