Donald Robinson, John Edward Robinson’s brother and Heather Tiffany Robinson’s adopted father, had no idea that John would be accused of murdering his daughter’s biological mother. Authorities say that John Edward Robinson orchestrated Lisa Stasi’s death so he could find a baby for his younger brother, Donald. When Donald learned this, his entire world was turned upside down.
Donald Robinson is featured prominently on ABC’s 20/20, airing October 4, 2019. His older brother was initially convicted of murdering Lisa Stasi, Suzette Trouten, and Isabella Lewicka in 2002 and sentenced to death. The Kansas Supreme Court later vacated the convictions in the Stasi and Lewicka cases on technicalities, but left the death penalty conviction in Trouten’s murder stand. Lisa Stasi and two other victims were never found. In Missouri, John Edward Robinson admitted the state had enough evidence to convict him of five additional deaths.
1. John Edward Robinson Said He’d Handle His Younger Brother’s Adoption
In 1983, Donald and his wife told John at a family reunion that they were wanting to adopt, according to a Supreme Court case in Kansas. John said he knew an adoption attorney and he’d handle the whole thing. Then in the fall of 1984, he told them a baby would be available for them that October. Donald sent him a $2,500 cashier’s check payable to Equi II, John’s business, to cover alleged adoption fees. At the time, according to Donald’s Facebook page, he was about 10 years out of graduating with a psychology degree from Loyola University.
John later backed out of that adoption, saying the birth mother had changed her mind.
Then in November 1984, John contacted a social worker at the Truman Medical Center, Karen Gaddis, and said he had created a program with several other local businessmen that would provide housing, day care, and job training to young mothers. He said he specifically needed Caucasian referrals of women in their teens or early 20s who had newborn children and had no family support. In January 1985, according to the court case, John told Gaddis that Hope House had referred a young woman to him and he had placed her in a Kansas motel.
2. John Told Donald in January 1985 That He Had a Baby from a Mother Who Committed Suicide
In January 1985, according to the Kansas Supreme Court case, John Robinson told his younger brother that he finally had a baby for adoption. He said the mother didn’t want to give up the baby but her family didn’t support her, so she committed suicide.
Donald and Helen Robinson flew to Kansas City on January 10. John drove them to his business office in Overland Park, where they signed adoption papers and Donald gave John a $3,000 cashier’s check for expenses. They named their baby Heather Tiffany Robinson and returned with the baby to Chicago.
3. The Signatures on the Adoption Papers Had All Been Forged
Months later, in July 1985, Donald received final adoption paperwork from John, including a birth certificate and an adoption decree signed by John’s attorney, Douglas Wood. Wood would later testify that he never prepared the document and his signature was forged. The notary’s signature was also forged.
4. When He Learned the Truth, Donald Was Scared He Would Lose His Daughter
The truth came out when Heather was a teenager. Donald told ABC News that when he learned the truth, it was the only time he had ever broken down. He was devastated by what his brother had done and terrified that he would lose his daughter.
“That was the whole problem — that we had was the possibility of losing you,” he told his daughter during a podcast recording. He and his wife had been trying to conceive for five years before they decided to adopt.
5. He & His Wife Legally Adopted Heather When She Was 18
Don Robinson and his wife legally adopted her when she was 18. Today, Don Robinson lives a quiet life, according to his Facebook page. For his birthday, he asked people to donate to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. For the most part, his Facebook just shows photos of his beloved cats and a few gardening pictures.
His fears about losing his daughter ultimately did not happen. Heather’s biological father, Carl Stasi, wanted to meet her and start a relationship when he found out she was still alive and not dead like he had believed, ABC News shared. But Heather decided she didn’t want a relationship with her biological father because she had everything she needed from her dad. She kept her adopted parents’ last name.