John Edward Robinson
John Edward Robinson is often called the first serial killer of the digital age: He was the first serial murderer on record to have used internet chatrooms to lure his victims to their deaths.
His early years were a collage of petty crimes. He embezzled money from the clinic where he worked as an x-ray technician (a clinic he only got a job in because he forged his certification and papers).
When that fell apart, he started multiple fictional businesses, spending time in jail and on probation after each one failed.
At the same time, he began ingratiating himself with the local community, notably as a Sunday-school teacher and a Scoutmaster.
But his image as a pious man interested in doing his civic duty crumbled after he propositioned several married neighborhood women and began to discuss his enthusiasm for a sadomasochistic cult where, he said, he served as the “Slavemaster.”
That was when women began to disappear.
The first was Paula Godfrey, a young woman Robinson hired to work as his secretary at yet another fictional company. When her family came knocking, he forged a note from her telling them she was okay but didn’t want to see them.
The police dropped the case, and Robinson was free to kill again. He promised Lisa Stasi a job, murdered her, then gave her four-month-old daughter to his brother — after charging him nearly $5,000 in adoption fees.
Then he went digital. He began to choose his victims online, looking for women in the BDSM community who were interested in bondage and dominance games — games he used to gain control of their finances before murdering them.
He was finally caught in 2000, by which point he had already roused law enforcement’s suspicions simply because he appeared in so many missing persons cases. A search of his properties yielded five oil drums containing the decaying bodies of women.
Robinson is now on death row in Kansas. His attempts to appeal the sentence have been denied.