Questions remain as investigators continue to search for the missing 24-year-old
Nothing about the disappearance of Daniel Robinson seems to make much sense.
The young geologist was always close and in contact with his family – until suddenly he disappeared for significant chunks of time.
He was smiling, happy-go-lucky, and always loved to chat – until suddenly he had a thousand-yard stare and couldn’t hold a conversation.
A large, 70-square-mile search area by air and land failed to find any trace of the missing man for almost a month – until suddenly his Jeep was found just a short distance from where he was last seen.
Polisie, private investigators, family and friends remained baffled as to what happened. Is it foul play? A planned disappearance? An endangered missing person’s case?
This is everything we know about Daniel Robinson and the bizarre circumstance that led to his disappearance in the hot desert of Arizona.
Who is Daniel Robinson?
South Carolina native Daniel Robinson, 24, graduated from the College of Charleston two years ago with a major in archaeology. He moved to Arizona after landing a job with Matrix New World Engineering.
He is described as a 5’8 Black man weighing 165 pounds with black hair, brown eyes and a distinctive characteristic; he is missing part of his right forearm, insluitend sy hand.
He was a keen outdoorsman, musician and traveller who was always close with his family and remained in constant contact with his parents and siblings.
Gesin, vriende en kollegas 'het gesê dat hy regtig gelukkig is, loves to have conversations and he’s always smiling”.
In the weeks leading up to his disappearance, and on the morning he vanished, Mr Robinson went from behaving normally to behaving erratically.
He made some comments family thought were odd, and one day he left his apartment wide open, and disappeared from contact for a significant chunk of time before returning.
The last time and place he was seen alive
He was last seen by coworker Ken Elliot at a well site near Buckeye, Arizona on 23 June around 9.15am local time. The pair had met for the first time that morning to assess a remote drill site in the Arizona desert.
The job site was near Sun Valley Parkway and Cactus Road in Buckeye. Temperatures throughout the summer climb well above 115 grade en daar is bykans geen skuiling nie.
Mr Elliott told Die Onafhanklike that everything seemed fine as they discussed the weather and the job. But within a matter of minutes, Mr Robinson’s demeanour changed from normal to distracted.
“He was just looking off into the desert; hy het 'n baie, baie ver kyk in sy oë,”Het mnr Elliott gesê. 'Elke keer as hy weer omdraai, Ek sou na hom kyk en in sy oë kyk - die eerste ding wat ek gedink het, was miskien dwelms of iets … [maar] his pupils were not dilated.”
'Vanuit hierdie oogpunt, alles blyk normaal te wees,”Het mnr Elliott gesê. 'Toe dink ek dit is 'n mediese toestand of iets. Ek was nie te seker nie. Ek het hom bly dophou, but he just kept turning around and looking off into the desert.”
'Toe draai hy net om en stap terug na sy Jeep, en ek het net aangeneem dat hy iets uit sy voertuig gaan haal. En hy maak die deur oop, het dit, het gaan sit, trek sy veiligheidsgordel aan, then he looked at me and just waved at me and backed up and took off.”
While family and friends described Mr Robinson as “happy-go-lucky”, Mr Elliott said he didn’t see that side of him.
He was reported missing soon after disappearing
Elliott het telefonies sy kollegas ingelig oor die situasie, assuming the younger geologist wasn’t feeling well and would call in sick. Ure later, niemand het van mnr Robinson gehoor nie, en mnr Elliott het ondersoek ingestel-die 24-jarige Jeep-spore gevind wat verder die woestyn in is.
'Toe ek dit sien, my hart sak, want dit het my net vertel dat hy nie huis toe gaan nie,”Het mnr Elliott gesê. 'Iets was regtig nie reg nie.'
Father David Robinson told Die Onafhanklike that the family in South Carolina became concerned after his son failed to check in that same day, which was unusual.
“We didn’t know what was going on; we know Dan does not ignore his phone calls,” Mr Robinson said.
“I can imagine his phone ringing, ringing, ringing for I think almost a day – and then finally I guess the phone died or somebody cut it off. After that point, it goes straight to the voicemail.”
He was reported missing to Buckeye Police Department the same day he was seen.
The search continues
The search has been led by Buckeye Police Department, using UTVs, cadaver dogs, “boots on the ground” and drones flying overhead, along with assistance in the air from Phoenix Firebird helicopters and civil air patrol.
Family members travelled from the East Coast to Arizona to join the search, which covered an area of 70 vierkante myle.
Aan 19 Julie, almost a full month later, a rancher found his 2017 Jeep Renegade in a ravine just a few miles from the worksite where he was last seen by Mr Elliott.
It had landed on its side with “significant damage”. Police said a seatbelt had been worn at the time, and the airbags were found deployed.
The vehicle contained Mr Robinson’s phone, beursie, keys, en, curiously, the clothes he was last seen wearing. Bottled water was also found.
The ravine was searched on the ground by foot and in the air by the Department of Public Safety Ranger helicopter, but they found no further trace of Mr Robinson.
On the same day, the family hired a private investigator: voormalige polisiebeampte Jeff McGrath.
Aan 31 Julie, a human skull was found but it did not belong to Mr Robinson, nor did it belong to another missing person. Its identity remains unknown. Other remains recovered during searches were determined to be animal bones.
Strange circumstances after the disappearance
Based on GPS data, Mr McGrath told the man’s family that the vehicle got into multiple accidents after the geologist’s disappearance, but before it finally fell down the ravine.
Evidence from the vehicle strangely shows that it crashed, die lugsakke ontplooi, then drove another 11 myl en was in 'n ander ongeluk betrokke, said Mr McGrath, who specialises in accident investigations.
The first crash was four hours after he went missing, based on the GPS data, while there was also some “paint transfer” from the vehicle.
After that first accident, it’s unknown where the vehicle was taken next. Mr McGrath said that after the airbags were deployed, the ignition was turned on at least 46 more times during the additional 11 miles put on the Jeep.
It was found only a few miles from the place Mr Robinson was seen, in an area that had already been searched.
“Because of the rough terrain, the vehicle was not clearly visible to crews searching by air and foot,” police said in a press release.
What police think happened
There was no blood found in the car and there are no indications of foul play, polisie gesê.
Carissa Planalp, Buckeye PD’s public information officer, said they were continuing to analyse the evidence and data taken from the geologist’s vehicle.
But they still have no indication of where he is or what happened.
“We’re looking for any information from the public – and the public has really come out in a big way through searches and through providing information that’s been so helpful. But we need more. We need more information," sy het gese.
The search, and the case, remain open.
What the private investigator thinks happened
Mr McGrath says, at minimum, “we have an endangered missing person case”.
'As hy nie reg in sy kop is nie en hy dwaal net weg, that could be a problem," hy het gesê.
'Miskien het hy net opgestyg, maar hy het niks. Daar is geen bewys dat hy iewers 'n rekening opgestel het om geld te hê nie; hy het nie veel geld gehad om mee te begin nie. Hy het nie 'n telefoon gehad nie, sy ID … Ons het niks van die voorafbeplanning gesien wat u sou sien as iemand net iemand anders wou wees nie. ”
What the family thinks happened
While the geologist’s family are holding out hope and trying to keep the search alive, his father believes he may have met with foul play.
Mr Robinson believes his son’s Jeep, found two miles away with no blood or no sign of bodies nearby, was “dumped”.
'Dit is teruggekeer na 'n gebied naby waar ons gesoek het - my teorie is miskien om ons te probeer wegwerp," hy het vertel Die Onafhanklike.
“Buckeye -polisie, hulle het gesoek, hulle het nie 'n voertuig gevind nie - en ook my soektogspan was daar buite; they hadn’t seen the vehicle," hy het bygevoeg.
Terwyl die Robinson -gesin aanhou soek en hoop en bid, het die ouer Robinson gesê, hy hou vas aan een spesifieke persoonlike teorie.
"Ek glo dit, op een of ander manier, God gaan my seun lewendig maak," hy het gesê.