ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — The alleged “shopping cart killer” appeared in court Monday for the first time in more than four months, facing felony charges in connection with the deaths of two women in Harrisonburg in 2021.
Anthony Eugene Robinson of Washington, D.C. was arrested back in November of 2021, facing two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of concealing a dead body. The charges stemmed from the remains of two women — Allene Elizabeth “Beth” Redmon, 54, of Harrisonburg, and Tonita Lorice Smith, 39, of Charlottesville — being discovered in an empty lot in the City of Harrisonburg in the fall of that year, near Linda Lane. According to authorities, the women’s bodies were found within feet of each other, though they are believed to have been killed separately.
In response, the Fairfax and Harrisonburg Police Departments held a joint press conference in December of last year, providing information surrounding the suspected serial killer. Three additional victims were identified — two in Fairfax County, and one in Washington, D.C. Although authorities alleged that Robinson was responsible for their deaths, his only charges are out of Harrisonburg at this time.
“If you don’t know where the actual killing occurred, then the case is prosecuted where the body is found,” 8News legal analyst Russ Stone said. “The other cases involving the other potential victims of this individual, we don’t know exactly why they haven’t been charged yet. But I did see something that said that the prosecutors, I believe, in Fairfax, had indicated that they thought the Harrisonburg cases were the strongest, and they were just going to hold off to see what happens with those cases first.”
Stone said that in a case such as this, where there are multiple alleged victims across various jurisdictions, it would not be uncommon for one jurisdiction to wait to see what evidence is presented and the decisions made in a different court, before deciding how to proceed.
“There are a great deal of resources — taxpayer funds and things like that — that go into prosecuting a case of that magnitude,” Stone said. “All of the prosecutors’ offices are certainly talking to each other. They’re comparing notes. Harrisonburg and Fairfax probably discussed the fact that, you know, ‘This is what we have.'”
Robinson’s Monday court appearance prompted the judge to advance the case, which will play out in Rockingham Circuit Court. Another hearing has been scheduled for Monday, Sept. 19.
“The Commonwealth is required to put evidence to show the judge that they have probable cause to believe that these offenses happened and that the defendant is the one who committed them,” Stone said. “In a case of this magnitude, it would be, frankly, rare for an attorney to waive preliminary hearing because, as serious as the charges are, you want to hear what the evidence is.”
According to Harrisonburg news outlet, the Daily News-Record, the Rockingham County commonwealth’s attorney shared security camera video of Redmon entering room 336 at the Howard Johnson on Linda Lane in October of 2021, where investigators believe Robinson was staying at the time.
Court documents obtained by 8News confirmed that prosecutors asked the court to hold Robinson without bail when he was originally arrested, citing “video footage of at least 1 body with Def., both bodies found in woods together.”
Court documents also stated that Robinson worked at Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation in Timberville at the time.
The Daily News-Record further reported that surveillance video shown by prosecutors in court on Monday showed the defendant pulling a shopping cart out of the hotel room with something that appeared to be wrapped in bed sheets. Similar video evidence was reportedly played in November, showing Smith entering the hotel room with Robinson, and then him later pulling a shopping cart from the room with something wrapped in bed sheets.
According to testimony during Monday’s hearing, as reported by the Daily News-Record, when questioned by Harrisonburg Police following his initial arrest, Robinson said that both women overdosed on “a white pill” while he was sleeping and that he disposed of their bodies in the field because he didn’t know what else to do.
The paper further reported that an autopsy report of both Smith and Redmon said that a plastic bag was found around each woman’s head, and their arms were tied behind their back with a “chunky black yarn,” which was allegedly purchased at a Walmart on Oct. 22.
The medical examiner ruled the deaths were due to homicidal violence, and possibly suffocation, though an exact cause of death for both women was undetermined, according to the Daily News-Record.
Court documents obtained by 8News noted that the findings and reports of the Medical Examiner were not released to the Commonwealth’s Attorney until “on or about” April 30, 2022. The documents also noted that Robinson’s family ties are in the Washington, D.C. area.
8News reached out to Rockingham County Commonwealth’s Attorney Marsha Garst and Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Christopher Bean but both declined to comment.
According to the Daily News-Record, Wetherell testified Monday that investigators did an “exhaustive study” of Robinson’s phone, and located more than 12,000 URL links to pornography sites, accessed between August and his arrest in November. The report further stated that Garst told the court some videos that were accessed directly after each woman died fit descriptions of each woman’s body physique.
8News reached out to Robinson’s defense counsel but has not received a response.
The next hearing for this case is set for Monday, Sept. 19. Stone said, at that point, evidence will be presented to a grand jury, and a court date will either be set for trial or some other proceeding, depending on the agreement reached among present parties.