OLATHE, Kan. — An Indiana woman whose daughter's body was found more than a decade ago on the Kansas farm of a man later convicted of killing multiple women is upset that an Internet website is making money by selling his items.
Dozens of personal items from John E. Robinson, who was sentenced to death in 2003 in Kansas for the deaths of Suzette Trouten, 27, of Michigan, and Izabela Lewicka, 21, a former Purdue University student, recently went on sale on a website that deals in what has been dubbed "murderabilia."
The Kansas City Star reports the items include a Santa Claus suit Robinson once wore, sketched cartoons and a driver's license that has a $1,500 price tag.
"For me this is a nasty thing," said Danuta Marona-Lewicka, whose daughter's body was found on Robinson's property in 2000. "Auctions? This hurts people. Someone is taking advantage of terrible feelings."
Robinson, 68, remains in prison in El Dorado, Kan., and won't get any money from the sales of his former belongings, which his family believes were carried away by a salvage hunter at a neighborhood garage sale near the home of his former wife, Nancy. She filed for divorce in 2005 after 41 years of marriage and has never been implicated in the slayings.
The bodies of Trouten and Lewicka were found in barrels in Kansas, while the remains of three other women were found in a storage facility Robinson rented in Missouri. All five women were killed by blows to the head.
In addition to the Johnson County, Kan., death sentences, Robinson also received a life sentence for the murder of a third woman whose body was never found. In Missouri, he was sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty to killing five women there.
Legislative efforts have failed to stifle the practice of selling the macabre merchandise.
"A small number of people idolize killers like others idolize athletes or rock stars," said Andy Kahan, a crime victims' advocate for the city of Houston. "Nobody cares about Joe the burglar's stuff. But these people will collect anything that can be linked to some of the heinous and most despicable acts of crime known to man."
Kahan has been fighting the industry since 1999. Eight states, not including Missouri or Kansas, have passed laws against profiteering from criminal notoriety.
Marona-Lewicka said she would not be calling up the websites.
"People who (are fascinated) about criminal action to the point they're buying these things, I could see them going down the same road," she said. "I think governments should look at this and try to stop it. I don't know if there's any possibility for me to stop it."