Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive videos, breaking news, sweepstakes, and more!
Loved ones grew concerned when an elderly Florida woman allegedly ran away to get married, leaving her home with a young couple and their kids.
Goldie Robinson, 78, moved from Maryland to the sunny shores of South Daytona back in 1973. In the summer of 2010, the independent and outspoken grandmother thought that was where she’d live out the rest of her days. She maintained her independence by purchasing a residence at the Twin Oaks mobile home park and staying in regular contact with her family via cell phone, including her son, Fred Roberts.
But in June of that year, mother and son argued over the cell phone he’d bought her, resulting in Goldie giving him the cold shoulder over several months.
“Mom had a heart as big as Florida,” Roberts told "Buried in the Backyard," airing Thursdays at 8/7c on Oxygen. “As long as you didn’t cross her.”
Roberts, who lived in Baltimore, Maryland, felt at ease knowing one of Goldie’s neighbors, registered nurse Kimberly Smith, would routinely check in on his mother. But something rang strange when Roberts received a package in the mail from his mother. Inside was the cell phone they argued over and a note that read, “Don’t call me - Goldie.”
Roberts tried calling his mother on her landline, but to no avail. He had a friend who lived in Daytona drive over to check in on Goldie.
“He said, ‘I can just see the outside of the trailer is in disarray,’” explained Roberts. “Something’s wrong.”
Roberts drove through the night to get to the bottom of things, arriving in Florida on Aug. 27, 2010. He, too, noticed the yard had been neglected, and his keys to Goldie’s trailer no longer worked. Furthermore, Goldie’s Ford Taurus was nowhere to be found. Roberts called authorities, who came over to inspect the home.
“None of the articles in the residence matched what [Roberts] told us about his mother,” said Det. Mark Cheatham of the Daytona Police Department. “Apparently, somebody else had been living there a while.”
Neighbors told Roberts and authorities that Goldie met a multimillionaire and had run off to marry him. The supposed newlyweds were on an extended honeymoon, and Goldie signed her home to a new family.
Those closest to the missing woman provided police with what appeared to be a grainy photo announcing her July 10, 2010, marriage to a man only known as “Rusty.”
“I was so confused, I didn’t believe it,” said Goldie’s son. “My mom was a down-to-earth, homegrown West Virginia girl. The life of a millionaire had no appeal to her whatsoever. Oh, no, something’s dead wrong here.”
Authorities could find no records of Goldie Robinson getting married. They hoped to glean more information from Goldie’s neighbor and nurse, Kimberly Smith. When detectives found her, she was in jail for a parole violation stemming from an old fraud charge for bouncing checks. Smith echoed what neighbors had claimed from behind bars: Goldie and Rusty eloped, though Smith offered no new information about Goldie’s mystery man.
On Aug. 25, 2010, police received a call that neighbors saw Goldie’s missing Ford Taurus trolling around the Twin Oaks neighborhood. Investigators arrived and found two men driving Goldie’s vehicle.
“They said they had acquired the car by purchasing it from a male individual several days earlier,” said Det. Cheatham. “They were upset because they couldn’t register it, so they had come back to that area looking for the gentleman who sold them the car to get their money back.”
That was when detectives learned they’d purchased the car from a man named Adam Smith, the son of Goldie’s friend, Kimberly Smith. Adam Smith claimed Goldie gave him the car before taking off for her extended honeymoon.
Police ordered the Ford Taurus to be towed in and processed for evidence. When tow truck drivers arrived, their truck’s headlights landed on something peculiar near a tree line at the Twin Oaks mobile home park: a garbage bin hidden in the trees, accompanied by the stench of what locals assumed was a dead animal.
Officers on the scene went to inspect the bin, finding a human body inside.
“We felt so bad for the family thinking, ‘This has to be Goldie, this has to be her,’” WKMG-TV reporter Nicole Luca told "Buried in the Backyard." “But of course, the medical examiner was going to have to identify the body.”
When the results from a postmortem examination were finally returned, loved ones were shocked.
The body didn’t belong to Goldie Robinson. It belonged to a man.
“It was a bombshell,” said Luca. “This was the biggest holy s--t moment I ever had in my life.”
News of the gruesome discovery prompted a local woman to come forward with fears that the body might belong to her absent father. The relative volunteered her DNA, confirming the body was that of 68-year-old Arthur “Art” Sheldon, who disappeared from his native South Daytona nearly one year earlier.
Sheldon’s daughter ignited concerns when she said Goldie’s story was similar to her father’s. She explained Sheldon allegedly sent an email announcing he was running away to marry his nurse. However, detectives concluded that Sheldon was not the man known as “Rusty” from the photo of Goldie’s alleged wedding announcement.
Despite Sheldon being found in a trash bin, authorities could not determine a manner of death. But could his death be connected to Goldie’s disappearance?
Investigators canvassed Sheldon’s neighborhood, just a few miles from the Twin Oaks mobile home park, asking about the gentleman’s ins and outs. Sheldon’s neighbors said he relied on a nurse named “Dawn” to help him with a preexisting heart condition.
“Through their investigation, police find that Arthur had cashed in a CD for $90,000 before he went missing,” according to Luca.
Sheldon permitted “Dawn” access to his bank accounts before the caregiver withdrew substantial amounts of money, even after Sheldon vanished. Authorities finally got the break they needed when reviewing video footage of “Dawn” taking money, realizing “Dawn" was actually Kimberly Smith, the woman sitting in jail who once acted as a caregiver for Goldie.
Goldie’s son, Fred Roberts, went with police when they went to Smith’s Twin Oaks home to search her property.
“He went into the trailer, and he comes out, and his face was white,” said Roberts. “And he looked at me right in the eyes, got right in my face, and said, ‘Rusty, the man your mom was supposed to marry, the multimillionaire, is sitting in there on the couch.’”
“Rusty,” whose real name was Russell, lived with Kimberly Smith at her Twin Oaks home, according to authorities. He claimed he didn’t know Goldie well but knew she lived in the mobile home park. He had no idea how his image came to be in the doctored wedding announcement of Goldie’s marriage.
Investigators sifted through Kimberly Smith’s background, finding she used aliases all over the state of Florida and spent time in prison on convictions of fraud and identity theft. They also learned she had no credentials to show she was ever a registered nurse, as she had presented herself.
Still in jail on a parole violation, Kimberly Smith stuck to her story, claiming Goldie ran off with “Rusty.”
Suspicions grew when detectives learned her son, Adam Smith, was then living in Goldie’s home. He’d moved in with his wife, Chrystal Smith, and their young children, claiming Goldie gave him the trailer as a gift.
On Sept. 3, 2010, investigators returned with cadaver dogs to the location where they found the body of Arthur Sheldon nine days earlier, not far from Goldie’s home. Dogs soon hit on a spot next to Kimberly Smith’s trailer.
Police found the body of Goldie Robinson buried four feet in the ground.
Due to the state of decomposition, a medical examiner could not determine a cause of death but ruled the manner of death was a homicide. A lack of physical evidence prevented authorities from being able to file murder charges in both the cases of Arthur Sheldon and Goldie Robinson.
Still, they hoped to keep Kimberly Smith behind bars and charged her with fraud. Authorities worked to build a strong case against her, accusing Kimberly of netting about $2,000 between government funds owed between Sheldon and Robinson. Prosecutors theorized Smith tried driving a wedge between the victims and their families, including mailing Goldie’s cell phone to Fred Roberts.
Prosecutors also claimed her son Adam and his wife, Chrystal, had knowledge of what Kimberly was doing, enjoying the spoils of her fraudulent actions.
In December 2010, Kimberly, Adam, and Chrystal Smith were charged with multiple counts of fraud and forgery.
“I would do anything in this world to get my mom back,” said a tearful Roberts. “There’s nothing I can do. She’s gone. I’ll never get another one. But if I can save one person, somebody’s mom, somebody’s dad, we’ll do a plea bargain.”
Kimberly pleaded out and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. She will be eligible for parole in 2023.
Adam and Chrystal Smith also pleaded out and were sentenced to three years behind bars.
No charges were ever filed in connection with the deaths of Goldie Robinson or Arthur Sheldon. The case was officially closed in 2014.
Crime News is your destination for true crime stories from around the world, breaking crime news, and information about Oxygen's original true crime shows and documentaries. Sign up for Oxygen Insider for all the best true crime content.