HARRISONBURG, Va. (WAVY) — Authorities believe they have a serial killer in custody after they’ve linked the deaths of two women in the Shenandoah Valley to two other victims whose remains were found in the northern Virginia area.
Authorities have dubbed him the “shopping cart killer.”
Police say the suspect, 35-year-old Washington, D.C. resident Anthony Robinson, would transport the victims’ bodies in a shopping cart after the slayings.
He also connected with at least some of the victims online on dating sites and would meet them at hotels, authorities say.
Robinson was originally arrested on Nov. 23 in Harrisonburg after police found the bodies of two missing women — 54-year-old Allene Elizabeth “Beth” Redmon of Harrisonburg, and 39-year-old Tonita Lorice Smith of Charlottesville — in the same vacant lot on Linda Lane.
He was arrested after surveillance footage and phone records connected him to the killings, per Harrisonburg Police Chief Kelley Warner. According to Warner, the two victims were found near each other in the same lot, but were killed at separate times.
Police also believe Robinson is linked to the death of 29-year-old D.C. woman Cheyenne Brown, whose remains have been preliminarily identified after being found Wednesday near the Moon Inn in Alexandria, along with the remains of a second, unidentified person.
The cases were linked after the Metropolitan Police Department in D.C. called the Harrisonburg Police Department a week after Robinson’s arrest and said that they discovered the last known person in contact with Brown was Robinson.
Warner and Maj. Ed O’Connell with the Fairfax County Police Department say digital data obtained by investigators showed Brown was in the area of the Moon Inn on the night of Sept. 30, but nothing was found in an original search.
However, investigators were later able to determine through video surveillance that Brown and Robinson were at the same metro stop in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 30.
Homicide detectives then went back to the original search area on Wednesday, Dec. 15, and spotted a red shopping cart in a wooded area, remembering that the two Harrisonburg victims were transported in a shopping cart.
Next to the shopping cart was a container with human remains of two people. Detectives were able to tentatively identify Brown through a distinctive tattoo on her body with help from family members, but were still waiting on tests for final confirmation.
They have not been able to positively identify the other person.
O’Connell says that detectives were able to determine Brown and Robinson had communicated on a dating website before her death, and that records obtained should lead to the identification of the second victim found in Fairfax County.
Police believe there could also be more victims in addition to the four they’ve located so far.
“There are likely other missing persons that have yet to be located that fit the profile of these victims,” said Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis. “We have a lot of work to do regionally.”
Anyone with information is asked to call the Fairfax County Police Department at 703-246-7800 or dial their anonymous tip line at 866-411-8477.