After the national outrage about Gabby Petito’s disappearance, prompting an audience for the search and homicide investigation, many people took to social media to voice how the police and news outlets neglect to have the same level of outrage for Black, Indigenous, and other people of color. In 2020, 182,548 Black people were reported missing in the US, according to Statista. A tweet went viral speaking of Daniel Robinson’s disappearance.
REPOST: While we're watching Gabby Petito’s case unfold, please take five seconds to read about Daniel Robinson, a geologist who went missing in the desert outside Buckeye three months ago. His father is still looking for him. #BrianLaundrie #gabbypetitio pic.twitter.com/FsrEvFURLa
— Arieah (@landin13342352) September 21, 2021
Who was Daniel?
24-year-old Daniel Robinson is a geologist originally from Columbia, South Carolina, who was born without a right hand. He graduated from the College of Charleston two years ago getting his degree in archaeology and moved to Tempe, Arizona when he received a job offer with Matrix New World Engineering where he has worked for the last two years. Daniel went missing on June 23, 2021 in Buckeye, Arizona.
What we know so far
Leading up to the disappearance his family said he was acting odd. According to the Buckeye Police report obtained by ABC 15, on June 12, a patron from his side hustle delivering food invited him to hang out with her friend. Later texts showed Robinson repeatedly showed up at the woman’s home unannounced, after she asked him not to, and that he’d told his family “that he was in love with her.”
According to The Independent, the last person to see him was co-worker Ken Elliot, who said that he saw Robinson go from normal to distracted during their conversation, but he didn’t seem to be on any substances.
“Then he just turned around and walked back over to his Jeep, and I just assumed he was going to get something out of his vehicle. And he opened the door, got in, sat down, put on his seatbelt, then he looked at me and just waved at me and backed up and took off,” Elliot said.
Robinson did not call in sick and when Elliott went to investigate, the tracks from his blue 2017 Jeep Renegade went towards the desert, not to his home. He also failed to check in with his family.
Daniel Robinson’s father, David Robinson believes the police did not act quickly enough to find his son. Even though he was reported missing on Jun 23, 2021, a helicopter search was not conducted until June 25, and the police did not search Robinson’s home until July 7. Civil Air Patrol, which is comprised of volunteers who do air searches, was not contacted by police until July 7.
Since then his father and dozens of volunteers go out every Saturday to search for the geologist. One month following his disappearance, on July 19, a rancher found his Jeep rolled over and on its side in a ravine not far from where he was last spotted. The airbags were deployed and officials said evidence shows Robinson was wearing his seatbelt at the time of the crash, so the police said the evidence showed a lack of foul play. Found in the Jeep were his clothes from the day he went missing, wallet, keys, and phone.
Before finding his Jeep, police said they conducted four ground searches on foot and used UTVs, cadaver dogs, drones, helicopters, and civil air patrol. They conducted two more searches in the area afterward but came up short.His father hired private investigator former police officer Jeff McGrath because something wasn’t quite right. McGrath disagrees with police findings. He said the car did not roll into the ravine. It was tipped on its side. He also said the car was driven for another 11 hours after the airbags deployed, and that the engine was cranked over at least 46 times following. McGrath believes the crash was staged, according to NBC 12.
“The department has followed up on all the leads that we know of; we have followed up on all the evidence we have,” said Buckeye Police assistant Chief Bob Sanders. “Next week we will be seeking some additional expert advice regarding the crash data.”
How you can help
David Robinson is asking for folks to sign his change.org petition which demands that the police department change Daniel’s case into a criminal investigation, which will allow the Buckeye Police Department to use the evidence obtained to seek warrants. This would mean the police department would have to buy into the private investigator’s findings that the crash was staged. At time of writing, the petition has reached over 56,000 signatures. There is also a GoFundMe which is funding David Robinson’s independent efforts to find his son. It has reached over three times its $40,000 goal. Lastly, if you have information regarding Daniel’s disappearance, call the Buckeye police department at 623-349-6400.
“In these three months my son is finally being heard; the story is finally being heard,” David Robinson said.