Lisa Stasi and her infant daughter, Tiffany Stasi, were lured into a trap by a serial killer, John Robinson, who said he was helping single mothers. Stasi disappeared from Overland Park, Kansas on January 9, 1985, and her daughter was given to the killer’s brother.
Lisa Stasi was born Lisa Elledge in Hunstville, Alabama, April 11, 1965. She married Carl Stasi in 1984 and soon gave birth to her daughter, Tiffany Lynn. She fled the marriage, and she was staying in a refuge for battered women when she encountered the man who would become her killer. He seemed suspicious, asking hospital staff at Truman Medical Center to be connected to white women. Staff knew that baby brokers sought out Caucasian babies, who sold for a higher profit in the baby-broker trade, according to a 2015 state Supreme Court decision in the case from the State of Kansas.
Robinson was convicted in the death of Stasi and seven other women, but the circumstances surrounding her disappearance were never solved and her body was never found (the state Supreme Court in Kansas later vacated the convictions in the Stasi case and another. He remains on death row because the Kansas court upheld one capital murder conviction). The court wrote, “In sum, we affirm Robinson’s capital murder conviction charged in Count II (Suzette Trouten’s death). We reverse his capital murder conviction charged in Count III (Izabela Lewicka’s death) and his first-degree murder conviction charged in Count V (Lisa Stasi’s disappearance) as unconstitutionally multiplicitous with the capital murder conviction in Count II.” The aggravated Interference With Parental Custody conviction in the Stasi case was upheld.
Tiffany Stasi was given to Robinson’s brother, Donald Robinson, and his wife, Helen. Tiffany was raised as Heather Robinson. At age 16 in 2000, she learned she was Tiffany Stasi.
Now 34, Heather Tiffany Robinson is trying to find the truth about her mother and locate her remains so she can finally be laid to rest.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Lisa Stasi Fled a ‘Troubled Marriage’ & Was Lured to Her Death By a Man Pretending to Help Single Mothers, Authorities Say
Lisa Stasi was married to Carl Stasi in Huntsville, Alabama, in August, 1984. One month later, their daughter, Tiffany Lynn, was born. The couple moved to Kansas City, Kansas, and their marriage quickly dissolved. The Charley Project describes the marriage as “troubled.” Lisa and Tiffany Stasi moved into the Hope House, a shelter for battered women.
At that time, she encountered John Robinson, who told her his name was John Osbourne. He said he was a part of the Kansas City Outreach Program, an assistance program for young mothers. Through the program, she could receive her GED and would receive free room and board, he told her.
The mother and daughter checked into a room at the Rodeway Inn in Overland Park, Kansas. She told relatives “Mr. Osbourne” was paying for the room. The day before her disappearance, her sister-in-law was babysitting Tiffany. Lisa went to the house to pick up her daughter, and Robinson later picked up Lisa and Tiffany. She was never seen again.
Family members last saw Stasi and Tiffany in early January 1985. “Carl Stasi’s sister, Kathy Klingensmith, babysat Tiffany often. On January 8, Stasi dropped Tiffany off at Klingensmith’s home and told her she had met a man named John Osborne, who was going to help her get a job and finish her GED. Stasi said she might even get to travel as part of the job training program,” the court records say.
2. In Lisa Stasi’s Last Phone Call, She Said People Were Trying to Take Her Baby & Forcing Her to Sign Papers
A few hours after Lisa Stasi left her sister-in-law’s house with her daughter, she called her mother-in-law, crying hysterically. She told her that someone was trying to take her daughter, claiming she was an unfit mother. She said the people were trying to force her to sign four blank pieces of paper.
“I said, ‘Don’t sign nothing,'” Betty Stasi told 20/20. “And she was just crying and then she finally settled down and she says, ‘Here they come now’…And she hung up. And that was the last time I heard from her.”
Investigators were able to identify John Robinson as John Osbourne through a credit card used to pay for the room. That credit card also connected him to his company and to the Kansas City Outreach Program, and fraudulent charity organization, according to The Charley Project.
Around 4:30 p.m., Stasi “called her mother-in-law, Betty Stasi, in a panic, crying and hysterical. Stasi said ‘they’ were claiming that Betty Stasi planned to take Tiffany away because Stasi was an unfit mother. Stasi’s mother-in-law told her not to believe what ‘they’ were saying because it was not true. Stasi said ‘they’ wanted her to sign four blank sheets of paper. Betty Stasi told her not to sign anything. Stasi said ‘here they come,’ and she hung up,” according to the court records.
Robinson “was looking for a private adoption opportunity for his younger brother, Donald Robinson, and Donald’s wife, Helen, who lived in the Chicago area. At a family reunion in 1983, Donald and Helen told Robinson they were pursuing a private adoption. Robinson said he knew an adoption attorney, Doug Wood, and would handle the process for his younger brother. In fall 1984, Robinson told Donald and Helen a baby would be available in October. At Robinson’s direction, Donald sent him a $2,500 cashier’s check payable to Robinson’s business, Equi II, allegedly to cover adoption-related fees. Robinson later said the birth mother had decided not to place the child for adoption.”
According to the court records, Robinson’s name “surfaced early in the investigation. On February 1, 1985, Overland Park detectives interviewed Robinson, who told them he was starting a charitable organization to provide young mothers job training, food, and housing. Robinson admitted he had placed Stasi at the Roadway Inn as part of that program. However, he said Stasi had recently come to his office to give him the motel key. Robinson said Stasi thanked him for the assistance and said she had made other arrangements. Robinson claimed that Stasi and Tiffany left with a young Caucasian male in an older model green car.”
In November 1984, Robinson had contacted Karen Gaddis, a social worker at Truman Medical Center, the court records say, and “told her that he and several Johnson County businessmen had developed a program to provide housing, transportation, daycare, and job training for young mothers and their babies.”
“Robinson said he needed referrals of Caucasian women because the program already had African–American participants and needed racial balance. Robinson was looking for a white woman in her teens or early 20s, who had a newborn child, was struggling or disadvantaged, and had no family support or ties. In January 1985, Robinson told Gaddis another organization, Hope House, had referred a young lady to his program, and he had placed her at a motel in Kansas. Lisa Stasi’s aunt, Karen Moore, testified that she had contacted Hope House and took Stasi to the organization just before January 1, 1985.”
3. Tiffany Stasi Was Raised By the Brother of Her Mother’s Accused Killer
Donald Robinson and his wife, Helen Robinson, were unable to conceive a child. Don’s brother, John Robinson, told him he would find them a baby, the Chicago Tribune reported in 2000.
He kidnapped Tiffany Stasi after murdering the baby’s mother, and brought the baby to the couple, authorities say. He told them the baby’s mother died by suicide in a hotel room. They believed the adoption was legal and paid $5,500, according to the book, “Anyone You Want Me to be: A True Story of Sex and Death on the Internet.”
Investigators told the Chicago Tribune that Robinson targeted Lisa Stasi so he could give his brother a baby. Tiffany Stasi was raised as Heather Tiffany Robinson. She did not know the truth about her mother until she was 16.
John Robinson’s wife testified at his trial regarding Tiffany Stasi’s disappearance. She said he brought a baby home in January, 1985. She recalled the baby was dirty, and he did not have supplies to take care of her. She bought clothing and baby supplies, and the baby was later given to Donald Robinson and his wife, according to the Charley Project.
4. Heather Robinson is Seeking Closure In Her Mother’s Death & Wants to Bury Her Body
Although Tiffany Stasi has not seen her mother since she was 4 months old, she still has a drive to be reconnected with her. She wants to know what exactly happened to her mother the day she died, and what she witnessed as an infant.
“I want to find out where she is. I want to know who she was,” Heather Robinson told 20/20. “She was a scared, abused, 19-year-old girl with a newborn, desperate to keep her child [and] be a mother. That was the whole reason John got her… I know I will. I’ll find her.”
Lisa Stasi has a grave next to the spot her own mother is buried, but Lisa’s grave is empty.
Robinson told 20/20 she felt “empty, numb [and] defeated” standing next to her mother’s grave “because I thought by the time I came back here I’d be burying my mother’s remains.”
“I had hoped that…not only was this journey to help me find answers about Lisa, I wanted to try to heal and give closure to everyone else that was involved,” Heather Robinson continued. “I will never stop trying to find her. I will never back down. If I want something I will get it, I will never let go.”
She shared a photo of the headstone September 12, 2019 on Facebook.
“All this grave actually needs is Lisa…” she wrote.
5. Heather Robinson Founded ‘The Lisa Stasi Effect’ to Find Information About Her Mother & Connect Trauma Survivors
Heather Robinson founded “The Lisa Stasi Effect,” an organization with multiple purposes. She wants to find information on her mother, recover her body, and connect those who have survived traumas. She is launching a podcast by the same name and collects donations.
Robinson also blogs on the site, sharing stories about her childhood, explaining her reasons for speaking out and seeking connections with others.
Her first post was called, “Hello… I’m The Missing Baby.”
“I’m the daughter of a generation that grew up watching Unsolved Mysteries having nightmare fueled dreams of Robert Stack reminding me I too can solve mysteries. I watched criminals come to their undoing at the hands of people like John Walsh, who took absolute heartache and tragedy and turn it into a purpose. And now I want to find my mother, Lisa Stasi who was murdered by John Robinson Sr. Also known as my adoptive uncle, godfather, kidnapper, murderer and conman,” she wrote. “If you read that carefully I assure you I am as damaged and f***** up as you would probably imagined. But what can I say I’m alive and fighting. I’ve tried for 20 years to survive, fit into a society that didn’t accept me before my trauma and one that hardly helps me survive it it.”
She said she was the organization to provide a safe haven for those who are struggling.
“I want to have a conversation, with you, the person taking the time to read this,” she wrote. “Maybe it’s curiosity or your having a tough day. Whatever the reason I hope at some point I’ve been able to make you smile and persevere. I want to use the Lisa Stasi Effect to create a safe haven for anyone who’s never felt they belong. Those who are struggling to survive. Those who have been impacted by violent crime. Anyone who’s life has been hurled into the spotlight. To my bored and lonley people out there desperately searching for something. Welcome to The Lisa Stasi Effect.”