15-year-old Kara Robinson was kidnapped in broad daylight by a serial killer, Richard Evonitz on June 24th, 2002. She was held captive for 18 hours but managed to escape and lead the police to her captor. Kara shares a lot about trauma and how to overcome it on her TikTok.
Growing up, Kara (KA-ra) was a very affectionate child. Her mother said she was a huggy, kissy, squishy kind of person. She was a tomboy and loved to ride horses, ride dirt bikes, climb trees, and run around in the woods with her friends. Kara said that she always felt safe when she played outside with her friends and they never had any problems. Kara's best friend was named Heather and she had just gotten her driver's license, so Kara was going to sleep over at her house in Lexington County, South Carolina, so they could go to the lake the next day. They were really excited about being able to get to the lake on their own, without any adults.
On June 24th, 2002, when the girls woke up, Heather called her mom and said they were going to the lake and asked if there was anything they needed to do before they left. Her mom said that's fine if they go to the lake, but they needed to water the flowers in the front yard first. Kara said she would water the flowers and Heather was going to take a quick shower and get ready to go. Kara headed outside and was still in the outfit she had slept in, so she had a T-shirt and some shorts on. About 15 minutes later, when Heather was done showering, she walked out the front door and saw the hose laying on the ground and the water was still running, but Kara was gone. Kara's purse and shoes were still in the house, so Heather ran inside and called her mom. Her mom immediately called the police and reported Kara missing.
Heather called Kara's mom and she was completely hysterical as she was trying to explain what happened. The two girls were best friends and Heather knew that Kara would never just leave like that on her own. A neighbor saw Kara get in a green Transam vehicle, but he did not see her struggling, she got in on her own, so he assumed they were friends. When the police heard this, they immediately wondered if Kara was a runaway.
On the morning of June 25th, so this is the next day, Kevin Pate was working at the local police station and the door opened and someone went running by. He shouted, can I help you? A young girl stops in front of him, holds her arm up to show him the handcuffs and says, my name is Kara Robinson, I was kidnapped and I escaped. The handcuffs were like adult novelty cuffs, the fuzzy ones. The officer said she was very composed and he called an investigator and they took the cuffs off her.
Kara explained that she had been watering the flowers outside of Heather's house and she noticed a car leaving the neighborhood. Kara was really into cars and she was staring at the green Transam and thought it was so cool. The car turned around, pulled into the driveway and a man got out wearing a button down shirt that was tucked in and he had a baseball cap. He said he had some magazines and he was wondering if her parents were home. Kara told the man that it was actually her friend's house and her mom's not home right now. He's like oh that's fine, can I just give you the magazines? Kara said yes and as the guy leaned in with the magazines, she instantly got a bad feeling about the situation and then she felt a gun against the side of her neck. He told her that she was going with him and if she screamed he was going to shoot her. Kara said, “There was no question in my mind that I had to do what he said, because he was bigger than me and he had the advantage, he had a gun. My only thoughts were prayers to God that I would find a way out.”
In the backseat of the car, there was a giant, plastic, storage container. It was a 50 gallon container. It was so large that it took up the whole backseat. The man told Kara that she was getting in the container, so she got in and laid in the fetal position and he drove away. Kara immediately knew that she had to save herself, so she decided to gather as much information about this man as she could. While she was in the bucket, she memorized the serial number in the container. She said it was almost like her brain was taking photos. Everything was happening in snap-shots. The car came to a stop after awhile and the man told Kara he was going to restrain her. He put a gag in her mouth, cuffed her, and tied her ankles. She was pretty familiar with the area, so she tried to pay attention to everything that was happening so she could figure out where she was and she memorized how many turns the man took during the drive. She came up with a mantra that she could play in her head over and over, “gather information, wait for him to be complacent, escape.”
The car drove for a few more minutes, then stopped again. Kara felt the bucket being lifted and carried, then it was drug across concrete, over a threshold, a door shut, and everything went still and quiet. She was told that the gag could come off if she absolutely promised to be quiet, so she shook her head and agreed. She was given a list of rules by the man that took her and his name is Richard Marc Evonitz.
Richard explained that he would always have a gun nearby. If Kara didn't listed to what he said, there would be consequences. He also said she would have to refer to him as daddy. He started asking her questions and writing down her answers. He asked her if she thought her family missed her, he wanted to know about her friends, if she had a boyfriend, and he even asked about her sexual experiences. Once she started crying, he raped her and she stayed as calm as she could and didn't fight back because she wanted to survive. Afterwards, he made her shower off and she continued to memorize every product or item that she could.
Richard said when he was done with Kara, he was going to take her to a location where she wouldn't know where she was and he would leave her. Kara started turning the tables on her captor. She asked him questions, got him talking about himself and she even asked if there was anything she could do to help around the apartment. While he was making his dinner, she swept the kitchen and saw magnets on the fridge where she was able to learn who his dentist was, who his doctor was, and she read some of his mail. He had some lizards and fish in the apartment and Kara got him talking about himself and he revealed that he was in the military and was discharged form the Navy. She said, “For me, my stress response was to appease him to gain his trust and to fight back in my own way, by finding information out about him and remembering it for when I escaped.” That night, they watched the news together and there was nothing about Kara's case. Richard believed this was a sign that no one missed her.
Later that night, Richard put the storage container on the bed, put Kara inside and he gagged her. He said he was going to make a phone call. When he came back, he was angry and asked why she was was making so much noise. Kara said she couldn't breath, she was suffocating in the bin and he got really aggressive. He said he could give her something for her anxiety. He gave her a pill and some Gatorade, then he raped her multiple times. Afterwards, they watched a pornographic movie and he made her describe it to him. Kara was 15 and didn't really understand everything she was seeing, so she was getting upset, but she was trying and her captor could see that, so he was beginning to trust her.
When it was time for bed, Kara was wearing his t-shirt, he put cuffs back on her and there was a rope coming up from behind the bed with a C-clamp on it and this was attached to the chain on the middle of the cuffs and a restraint was on her right leg and attached to the foot of the bed. Kara was drugged and had been tortured, so she fell asleep pretty fast. When she woke up, she saw a sliver of light from the morning sun peaking through the window shade and she could hear her captor breathing slow, so he was still sleeping. She knew this was her moment.
She used her teeth to unscrew the C-clamp just enough, then she was able to use her hands to get it off the rest of the way. Keep in mind, she's doing this while the man is sleeping in the bed right next to her. She sat up and disconnected the restraint that was on her leg, tying her to the bed. She slowly slid her body off the side of the bed and slid one wrist out of the cuff, put her shorts on and went to the front door. It was locked and there were metal accordian closet doors that blocked the door from opening. There was no way to not make noise and she had to work fast, so Kara turned the knob and closed the closet door at the same time and she took off running. She was obviously scared that Richard would see her running and shoot her in the back, but she said, “Even if he did shoot me, I would be out of his apartment and someone would see me and find him.” She saw a car across the parking lot and she ran to it. She told the two men inside that she had been kidnapped and needed to get to the police station.
When investigators called Kara's mom, Debra, she said, mamma, come get me.
Kara rode back to the apartment with investigators and she got them to the complex, but the apartments all looked the same, she couldn't pick out the exact one she had been in. They saw a maintenance worker in a golf cart and they figured he might be able to help them identify Kara's captor. She told the maintenance worker that her captor was a white man around 30-40 years old, he lived with a woman that had long red hair, and he had animals in his apartment. The maintenance worker said, oh, I know exactly which one that is and he pointed out apartment #301. Unfortunately, no one was there.
Kara was brought to the hospital for a sexual assault test. When detectives stopped in to speak with her, she recited the name, address, and phone number for Richard's doctor and dentist because she had seen the magnets on his fridge. She was able to pick out Richard Mark Evonitz in the photo lineup and police got a search warrant. When they entered the apartment, it was exactly as Kara had described, even the fridge magnets. They also found a footlocker in the corner of the bedroom. When they opened it, they saw women's underwear and newspaper clippings of young ladies around the same age as Kara who had been kidnapped and murdered. The investigators knew there was something much bigger going on. They also found handwritten notes with locations in Virginia and they believe it's the locations that he was stalking other girls.
We're going to discuss the newspaper clippings of the three ladies that were found in the trunk and all three were abducted in broad daylight and sexually assaulted, just like Kara.
In Spotsylvaina, Virginia, in 1996, six years before Kara's abduction, 16 year old Sophia Silva went missing. Sophia was athletic, ran track, her favorite color was purple, and she had a great sense of humor. She typically got a ride home from school from a friend, but she couldn't take her. Sophia did make it home and she was out on her porch doing homework. Her sister, Pam, walked outside, saw her schoolbooks and soda sitting there, but Sophia was gone. A missing persons report was filed, but she was initially classified as a runaway, even though her family insisted that she wouldn't do that. On October 14th, someone spotted a body wrapped in blankets. The body was submerged in water and wrapped in two moving blankets. Investigators were able to see feet sticking out of the blanket and they noticed the purple nail polish right away. It was Sophia's favorite color. The medical examiner used dental records to confirm that it was Sophia Silva.
The following year, in 1997, so this is 5 years before Kara's abduction, Kristin and Katie Lisk went missing. The sisters had a routine that they followed everyday after school. They would get off the bus, go in the house, and call their father. He didn't hear from them, so he called the house over and over, but no one answered, so he raced home. When he got there, he saw Kristin's backpack lying in the front yard, but he couldn't find his girls, so he called the police. Kristin was 15 years old and she was on the school dance team. Her sister Katie was 12 and she liked to play basketball and swim. The sisters were inseparable and it was uncharacteristic for the two of them to just disappear on their own. Five days after they went missing, their bodies were discovered 40 miles away. Someone was canoeing on the river and he found the bodies submerged in water.
The FBI started working the cases because they were eerily similar. 3 girls around the same ages had been abducted and murdered in the same area. All three girls were missing their shoes, their bras, and their underwear, and their bodies were all submerged in water. It was also determined that there were similarities between hairs and fibers that were found on the girls. They all had the same carpet fibers on them, but the cases ended up going cold.
So, police are scrambling at this point because they may have a serial killer on their hands and they better find him. They contacted his poor wife whom he shared the apartment with and she was absolutely shocked. She was on a vacation at Walt Disney World, but now she had to get home and go in for questioning.
It was discovered that Richard had a dysfunctional upbringing. By the age of 12 he was doing drugs, making obscene phone calls and he was involved in burglaries. He was in the Navy and was awarded the Navy Good Conduct Medal twice during his eight years of service. He was described as friendly and charming. He did own a home in Spotsylvania in 1996 and 1997 when the three girls were abducted and murdered. Investigators spoke with his ex-wife in California and she provided a lot of information about how he was into bondage, abductions, handcuffing, and conflicting punishments.
Police were searching for Richard and he called his sister and confessed to more crimes, but he didn't provide details. His sister was able to tell police that he was in a motel, but he wasn't there when they arrived. He was driving a Ford Escort that belonged to his wife and when they found him on June 27th, 2010, it was a high speed chase about 120 mph. Officers used a spike strip to blow out his tires. When the canine officer approached Richard's car, he took out a 25 caliber pistol, put it in his mouth, pulled the trigger, and died instantly.
Detectives started diving further into the cases of the girls that had been abducted in Spotsylvania. They discovered that Richard had taken time off work on the days that Sophia Silva and Kristin and Katie Lisk were abducted. On the day that Sophia was kidnapped, his previous wife was on vacation and they had been separated by the time he abducted the Lisk sisters. Fibers from the carpet of his home matched those found on the bodies of all three girls. Fibers found in the trunk of his Ford Taurus matched those that were found on all three girls. Fibers from a blanket found during a search of his property matched samples found on Sophia and Katie's bodies. Richard's hair was found on the bodies of all three girls AND blue acrylic fibers from a pair of furry handcuffs were found on all three girls as well. A palm print and fingerprints matching Kristin Lisk were found inside the trunk of his car and this was a damn miracle because it was found five years after her abduction.
The FBI says this case is not closed. They are actively working on reconstructing Richard's life to figure out what else he could have been involved in. They found records that Richard was suspected of rape and abductions of young girls dating back to 1994, so there could be more victims that we don't know about yet.
Kara said there's very little emotion involved when she thinks about what happened. She was able to turn it off. She didn't talk about it, she didn't want to be treated different, she just wanted to move on.
Her mother said that Kara was no longer affectionate and didn't want to be hugged anymore. Her dad is named Ron and she used to call him daddy, but she stopped and would only call him dad afterwards. She pushed everyone away, starting with her boyfriend and she was angry that Richard took his own life because she wanted the opportunity to look him in the eyes in the courtroom. A few months after her escape, she went to Virginia to meet the families of the three girls that Richard murdered.
Since Kara is the reason the police were able to solve three cases, she received a $150k reward. Two families were able to finally learn what happened to their children because of Kara. She says, “It was one of the things I am most honored to have been a part of in my life. The ability to give a little closure and information to those families is something that I will never forget.” She used the money to go to college, and went to work at the Sherriff's department. She went to the academy and became a school resource officer so she could help kids and later became an investigator on child abuse and sexual assault cases. She uses her social media to provide tips on how to escape kidnappers and call for help. Victims of crimes can also go to Kara's TikTok for advice on how to heal and seek support.
Her TikTok is Kararobinsonchamberlain and her information says.
Yes, it's true.
Survivor, mother, wife
Spreading hope, education, and inspiration
Kara says her life is crazy, chaotic, and wonderful. She has a husband and two boys. She wants her boys to know what a strong woman looks like. She works as an advocate for survivors and she is co-executive producer of Escaping Captivity with another activist that we covered on episodes 98 & 99, Elizabeth Smart! Escaping Captivity features special interviews with Kara's parents, former boyfriend and law enforcement officials. That's where I got most of the information for my story.
On her website, it says, Victim of Opportunity to Survivor by choice. She said she survived for a very specific purpose: to spread hope and encouragement to other survivors. To remind them that they are not alone, that they can heal, and that they are stronger than what happened to them. That we are who we are because of what happened, but we are not defined by it. She uses her work in law enforcement to speak to groups of people around the country and she tells her story and works to empower others.