Harrisonburg police play key role in connecting murders to possible serial killer

By Jessica Kronzer, contributor in Washington, D.C.

This shopping cart was located in an isolated wooded area near where human remains were found Wednesday, Dec. 15, in the Alexandria section of Fairfax County.(Courtesy Fairfax County Police)

“Serial killer” isn’t a phrase commonly used in the Valley, but the Fairfax County police chief said a man Harrisonburg Police charged in relation to two homicides in November is connected to similar murders in Northern Virginia. 

Anthony Robinson, 35, is sitting in Rockingham County Jail and police are calling him the “Shopping Cart Killer.” He’s accused of finding his victims through online dating platforms, said Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis. Police said he met victims at motels where he killed them through blunt force trauma and transported their remains using shopping carts. 

During a joint press conference Friday, Harrisonburg Police Chief Kelley Warner joined Davis after their two agencies shared evidence related to the alleged killer, as well as similar tactics used in the two sets of murders. 

And Davis said the phrase “serial killer” was rare for him to use, as well, even after three decades in law enforcement.

Harrisonburg killings

Robinson was arrested and charged last month in the murders of both Allene Elizabeth Redmon, 54, of Harrisonburg, and Tonita Lorice Smith, 39, of Charlottesville on the same day the remains were located. 

“Our shopping cart killer does unspeakable things with his victims,” Davis said. “And it’s our collective duty and responsibility to bring justice and closure to all of our communities.”

The victims had both been reported missing in early November and were found in a vacant lot with a shopping cart close by. 

The women’s remains were near each other, although they had been killed at different times, according to the Harrisonburg police. Both of the missing person’s cases were being investigated separately but Harrisonburg and Charlottesville police narrowed their search over time to the same spot. 

Harrisonburg Police connected Robinson with the victims through cell phone records and video surveillance. He was charged with two counts of first degree murder on Nov. 23. 

On Nov. 30, Warner said the Harrisonburg police were contacted by the Washington, D.C, Metropolitan Police Department because Robinson had contact with a missing person that the agency was investigating. 

So far, an attorney for Robinson hasn’t released a statement and declined to comment to The Washington Post on Friday.

Fairfax killings 

Harrisonburg police’s major crimes division used cell phone records to track Robinson’s contact with that missing woman from D.C., Cheyenne Brown, to Richmond Highway in Alexandria, near the Moon Inn. Brown was four months pregnant and lived in Southeast D.C. 

Then the Harrisonburg police were contacted by Fairfax County Police, as Harrisonburg’s victims mirrored a case in their county where police on Wednesday found two sets of  human remains. Brown’s family members made a preliminary identification that one of the bodies belonged to Brown, 29, after they recognized her tattoos. 

Police released her identity before DNA testing in hopes that announcing it could help them find other victims. 

The other set of remains has not been identified. Both were found in a large plastic container by a shopping cart. 

Brown met Robinson on a dating app and video shows the two at a D.C. Metro stop on Sept. 30. Other footage shows Brown taking the metro from Washington to Huntington, near where her body was later found. 

Possibility of other victim

Given that the four murders took place within a few months, the police chiefs said Friday they are concerned there might be other victims.

“The good thing is he’s in custody,” Davis said. “The challenge that remains is identifying other victims.”

Robinson is believed to have had many jobs and moved around, Davis said. Besides the areas where the murders took place, police said Robinson had addresses in New York, Washington and Prince George’s County, Maryland. 

“We know he’s obviously traveled all the way down to Harrisonburg,” Davis said. “But where else has he been? Where else has he laid his head? Where else has he worked? Who does he know in all of the jurisdictions in between?”

Police in multiple jurisdictions, including Harrisonburg, are working to identify other possible victims. People who know Robinson or who have information about the killings are asked to call the Fairfax County Police Department Major Crimes Bureau at 703-246-7800 or use tip anonymously with 1866411. 

“Justice will prevail and the offender will be held accountable for what he did,” said Major Ed O’Carroll of the Fairfax County police. 

Journalism is changing, and that’s why The Citizen is here. We’re independent. We’re local. We pay our contributors, and the money you give goes directly to the reporting. No overhead. No printing costs. Just facts, stories and context. We’re also a proud member of the Virginia Press Association. Thanks for your support.

Scroll to the top of the page

Hosting & Maintenance by eSaner

Thanks for reading The Citizen!

We’re glad you’re enjoying The Citizen, winner of the 2022 VPA News Sweepstakes award as the best online news site in Virginia! We work hard to publish three news stories every week, and depend heavily on reader support to do that.