Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

LA Forensics: The Sandwich Shop Murders

An Anonymous Caller

On the fourth day after the murders, Detective Moseley received a call from a woman who said her name was Karen and she might know something about the homicides. However, before she would reveal anything, she said, she first wanted to know the caliber of the weapon used. Moseley told her they could not give out that kind of information, so she hung up. It was frustrating for the police. They could not understand why someone would place such a condition on providing assistance in an investigation this serious, but there was nothing they could do but wait and hope that she had a change of heart and called back.

Two days later, they received a second call and again refused to provide the information requested. Again, she hung up. Then she called a third time on July 8, insisting she might know who the killer was so they decided to take a risk and tell her the type of gun they were looking for. To their surprise, she hung up and Officer Moseley wondered if she had made a serious error. But finally, "Karen" contacted her again, this time with her boyfriend, Jackson, and said the sandwich shop shooter was a former roommate, James Robinson. They were at a phone booth and wanted to talk.

Sheik Kargbo as James Robinson
Sheik Kargbo as James Robinson

They told detectives about how Robinson, who had lived with them for a few weeks, had purchased a .380 on June 3. It had changed him, giving him an attitude of apparent invincibility heady stuff for a scrawny kid. Because he had debts and made little money at his grocery store job, he often talked about robbing the sandwich shop where he once had worked, but they had not believed he'd really do it. Still, he'd described a floor safe and the lack of surveillance equipment. He'd even said that if anyone was present that he knew when he did it, he'd have to shoot them, execution style to the back of the head. "They are going to die," he reportedly had said, "because I need the money." He specifically mentioned a tall, white employee with blond hair probably a reference to James White.

Robinson, 22, had been depressed over his financial state. His failure to pay his part of the phone bill had result in the phone being disconnected, so Jackson told him he had to find another place to live. On the night of June 29, around 11:00 P.M., Karen and Jackson heard Robinson put a clip in his gun. He left and Jackson saw that he'd taken his gun from its usual spot. Robinson came back, but quickly left again and did not return until 3:00 that morning. Directly after the incident, he had a bundle of cash and had rented an apartment, moving his stuff out. He'd also asked them rather excitedly if they had heard about the robbery and told them it was in the papers. They thought he was acting strangely.

Thus, only nine days from the time of the robbery, the detectives closed in on their first good suspect.

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