Alleged ‘Shopping Cart Killer’ appears in court

Published: Sep. 12, 2022 at 6:39 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - The alleged “Shopping Cart Killer” appeared in Harrisonburg-Rockingham General District Court Monday, Sept. 12.

Anthony Robinson is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and felony concealing a dead body. Robinson has been dubbed the “shopping cart killer” by law enforcement after he was accused of transporting his victims by a shopping cart.

Robinson appeared in court in order for a judge to decide if there’s enough evidence for him to face trial for the four charges. Robinson is charged in the murders of Tonita Smith and Beth Redmon.

Sgt. Brooke Wetherell testified Monday as an investigator in the case.

Wetherell said investigators believe Robinson was staying at the Howard Johnson hotel. The court reviewed security camera footage of each woman, on separate occasions about a month apart, entering Robinson’s room at the hotel.

Both times, he eventually leaves pulling a shopping cart with something inside it. Investigators say the shopping carts contained the women’s remains.

Redmon was last seen on Oct. 24, 2021, Wetherell said, and at the time of her disappearance, investigators didn’t know where to look.

Smith was last seen in mid-November, and investigators were able to check phone records and see she’d been in and around Howard Johnson. It’s at that point investigators found both Smith and Redmon wrapped in bedsheets along the tree line off Linda Lane. The women were about 15 ft. apart from each other, Wetherell said.

Investigators found a shopping cart in the parking lot.

Smith was nude from the waist down with her top and bra pulled up and ties around her ankles and wrists. The court also viewed a photo from security camera footage at Walmart from Oct. 22, where Robinson was buying black yarn that matched what was on Smith.

Redmon was found to be in an “advanced state of decomposition,” according to the medical examiner, and she was completely nude.

Wetherell said, upon investigation into the room Robinson stayed in, there was blood found on the bed, along with Smith’s phone, clothing, and ID.

During Redmon’s autopsy, meth was found in her system, but the medical examiner doesn’t believe the substance caused her death. However, because of the loss of tissue around her head and neck, they weren’t able to determine a certain cause.

The medical examiner’s office wasn’t able to determine an exact cause of death for either woman but listed the cause of death as homicidal violence.

Robinson told investigators during initial questioning he’d met the women on dating apps or sites, and he told them both women had taken a white pill and overdosed. He said he’d woken up to find them dead.

Upon searching Robinson’s phone history, investigators found over 12,000 pornography URLs accessed from around August until November. Particular videos -- especially ones accessed directly after the women’s deaths -- were brought up Monday in court, since the titles described women who resemble the two victims.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Marsha Garst described Smith and Redmon’s deaths as sado-sexual.

The defense attorney asked Wetherell about another woman seen entering and exiting Robinson’s room at the hotel, which was between the two women’s disappearances, on Nov. 10.

The judge did certify all four charges, saying there was strong circumstantial evidence of pre-meditation. Since the women are seen nude in evidence, the documents will be sealed.

On Sept. 19 the case will go in front of a grand jury.