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Witness Interview: Michael Robbins, Property Developer

Saturday, July 15, 2000 - 12:35 p.m.

Sheriff's Officer Steve Harding conducted this interview with property developer Michael Robbins near the location where the woman's body was found. Officer Harding was dispatched to the scene at 12:16 p.m. in response to a 911 call reporting the discovery of a body in Kelly Woods near the Kelly Green construction site. He arrived on the scene at 12:20 p.m. and was directed to a wooded area at the rear of a construction site. Deputy P. J. Watson arrived on the scene at 12:22 p.m. to provide backup and assistance.

As he arrived and before the crime scene could be secured, Officer Harding observed a man he later established to be Michael Robbins exit the woods, clutching his forehead. The officer heard the man call to workers to finish for the day. He then saw the man approach a silver 1999 Toyota pickup, later determined to be Mr. Robbins' vehicle, and stand outside the vehicle, muttering to himself and shaking his head. While Deputy Watson checked the wooded area and spoke to the workman who discovered the body, Office Harding used his handheld microcassette recorder to tape his interview with Michael Robbins and noted that Mr. Robbins seemed highly agitated at times during the interview.

SH = Officer Steve Harding
MR = Michael Robbins

SH: Sir, I saw you walking from the woods a few minutes ago. I need to ask you a few questions about why you are here today.

MR: Why? The supervisor called me here, of course. He said there was a dead body in the woods. This is my development project.

SH: Your name and address?

MR: Michael Robbins, 8 The Clovers. That's over on College Hill. This is a terrible, terrible thing to happen... just awful. Appalling. Of course it's got nothing to do with me or my development. Damn, a TV news crew is arriving. This could be bad.

SH: If you could just answer the questions Mr. Robbins. How -

MR: Nothing to do with me, nothing at all. Never seen her before in my life. Probably she's a victim of one of those serial killers. I know there was one around Oxford last year. Or she's one of those girls who hitchhike and get murdered. Or she had a fight with her boyfriend...

SH: Mr. Robbins, are you feeling ill?

MR: Ill? Why should I feel ill? It's a hot day and I'm sweating. I had a very late night last night, it was my birthday and I was celebrating well into the early hours, I can tell you. Now this. And those damn cameras are pointing in my direction. This death is nothing to do with me.

SH. Did you see the face of the deceased?

MR: Ahh - no, not really. Never seen her before in my life. Absolutely never.

SH: How would you be so sure of that if you didn't see her face?

MR: Well... I'm totally, 100 percent sure I don't know that woman. Certainly she's not one of my construction staff. They're all accounted for. As I say, she just happens to be dead next to my property, not on my land. That patch of kudzu is in Kelly Woods and it's a good 100 yards from the boundary of my property. You can see the boundary marker by that sand heap. And Kelly Woods, that's not my land. My project is Kelly Green.

SH: Mr. Robbins, could you explain the nature of the construction going on here. What exactly are you building?

MR: A very classy condo development - 32 luxury, high-tech spacious apartments with innovative décor. It's lock-up-and-go urban convenience within a tranquil rural setting with beautiful views. If you know The Clovers - that's my first project in Oxford - then you'll have some idea of this one. A great place to live. I live there. That one sold off the plan two months before completion last year.

SH: When did construction start here?

MR: We really only got going on the infrastructure last month. There were some unforeseen delays with a bit of local opposition and planning conditions to be met. Nothing too serious.

SH: Opposition?

MR: Just some loopy locals who can't appreciate that times are changing. You get them in every neighborhood when you're planning a development. They're a pain in the neck, but what can you do? Goes with the territory.

SH: Thanks for your time, Mr. Robbins. The detectives may need to talk to you later, so if you could give me your contact information so they'll know how to reach you?

MR: Any time, I guess. Here's my card. I've got to do something about those TV crews. Can't y'all get them away from here? Isn't that something y'all do?

SH: We'll take care of it, sir. Maybe you should find a place in the shade where you can sit down, maybe have a glass of water?

MR: You're probably right. I should go to the office. I need to make some phone calls. This is terrible. Just terrible.

End interview: 12:45 p.m.

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