THOMSON, Ga. (WJBF) – Who killed our mommy? It’s a question people in McDuffie County see every year in February since the 2001 murder of Robin Reeves.
“You always get the pretty picture with the wedding things where they’re helping you get ready or dressed. So, I know she won’t ever be there for that. And my kids one day, oh my gosh, they won’t have like a grandmother,” said Hannah Neville, Reeves’ daughter.
At just three years old, someone killed Hannah Neville’s mother, Robin Reeves. Now in her 20s, she has no memory of the woman who brought her into this world and says she feels robbed of a future.
“Someone just took it away and either doesn’t think another thing about it or just gets to live free and not be held responsible for what they did,” Neville said.
Her younger brother, Joseph Standridge, was just one years old when his mother was killed.
“I remember looking at my peers and sometimes breaking down because they always had something I didn’t and that was a family,” Joseph Standridge said.
The two small children were left in their grandmother’s care.
Now that both children are adults, Faye Reeves still holds on to hope after her only daughter was taken from her in a brutal act of murder.
“Real sweet surprise. Born on Valentine’s Day,” Reeves recalled. “The first time I saw her I told her I will always have a valentine.”
Robin Reeves grew up in Thomson with her parents. Her mother describes her as sweet, artistic, often leaving memorable drawings behind, and athletic. She said she had a lot of friends too. One of them, Susan Schuenemann, told us they met in kindergarten.
“On the day that we met, there was a particular boy, and I’m not going to name who it was, that had tried to kiss me and was chasing me on the playground. And in Robin fashion, she kind of came to my rescue. And that was our friendship. She was there,” Schuenemann, her best friend, said.
“Robin was never on time,” Mike Love, a family friend, joked. “You always had to tell Robin an hour earlier if you wanted Robin to be on time. But, Robin was just a bubbly, outgoing person.”
And that personality helped her become fast friends with a special person during her job at Augusta Technical College. Sabrina White said her buddy was also a prankster.
“One gentleman who was responsible for vacuuming the hallways and the offices, she would always go and unplug his vacuum cleaner,” White said. “So, of course he would be like what in the world? What in the world just happened? [She would] go down the hallway and plug his vacuum cleaner back up and go back off. She’d do it again and of course he would holler, Robin!” (laughs)
Amid the laughter, Reeves’ personal life was bittersweet.
Attorney and neighbor Jimmy Plunkett spoke with Cold Case Project. He told us, “She had been divorced I think twice prior to marrying Robert.”
Plunket said that marriage with Mr. Standridge was no walk in the park.
He added, “That was a tumultuous marriage. That’s really an understatement. She went through a lot of mental aggravation. After their divorce, he would drive by the house. She had to get a restraining order on him. The police would be called at all hours of the day and night when he would be driving by and stepping out into the yard to harass her.”
“My husband and I at the time we drove her to Thomson,” White said. “When we got to the house, we put Joseph down and Robin laid down on the couch to go to sleep. When we left, he was outside. He had driven by outside so he was very much aware of her comings and goings.”
Those close to Robin Reeves saw what they said was harassment from her ex-husband. It was a divorce some said was sparked by substance abuse and detailed in Robin’s own words.
“She had kept a calendar and originally I think it was to keep a headache log, but it turned into Robert home late or Robert was so mean or even apparently I was in a crack house and they had to go find Hannah. They found Hannah at 3 a.m. I didn’t know all she was having to go through,” Neville explained.
Some of Reeves’ friends and family knew she lived in fear. Schuenemann said her friend kept a recorder on her body and one on her phone. She even changed her last will and testament and her last name in the days before her murder.
“She said to me when I said aren’t you afraid,” Schuenemann recalled. “There was this long pause and there was this deep breath and she said Susan, I’m afraid every day of my life.”
On the night of February 27, 2001, that fear caught up with Robin Reeves, but not before she had one last celebration.
“That was a Shrove Tuesday,” family friend Kelly Evans said. “So, traditionally that’s pancake supper night. We had gotten together and had pancakes. And there was bacon and sausage and everybody was in a good mood.”
Evans, a fellow member of Holy Cross Episcopal church, said she looked up to Robin who was a few years older. Their final hours together centered around family and friends and watching Joseph run around despite having braces on his legs.
“She was happy. She was happy, you know,” Evans said. “She was happy with her children, she was happy being a mother, she was happy being there at church with her family.”
Faye Reeves told us her daughter and grandson arrived at the church around 6 o’clock that evening. Her granddaughter Hannah was in Augusta with her father. She too said Robin had a grand time talking with everyone in their small church during that pancake supper. Then, a little more than an hour later, she left.
“She and Joseph left about, I would say, 7:15,” Reeves said. “I was going to stay to help clean up the kitchen and all. She got ready to go and came in the kitchen and gave me a kiss. She said I want you to call me when you get in so I know you made it home safely.”
But Faye Reeves never received that call and she made several calls that night to her daughter’s home, right next door to hers on Gordon Street. She even went to the home after Hannah’s father shared that he received no answer when they called to wish her a good night. But all seemed well when she saw that Joseph’s room door was slightly open as it always is when they turn in for the night. The next morning, she called Augusta Tech to talk with her daughter at work. But instead, got a message from a co-worker.
“She said Ms. Faye, Robin hasn’t come in yet. In fact, we’re really concerned about it.”
That’s when she grabbed the key to her daughter’s home and made her way inside.
“I saw her laying in the hall and I walked over and I saw blood. I knelt down and I patted her arm,” Faye Reeves said.
In a state of shock, Reeves could not dial 911. So, she went outside and found a passerby to do it. Thomson Police was there within minutes. And the GBI came later.
“The cause was stab wounds, manner was definitely homicide,” said Pat Morgan, Special Agent in Charge, GBI, Thomson Regional Field Office.
“I found out later that her face had been cut from here back and it was pieced together. He told me later if I had touched it, he was afraid it might have opened up,” Reeves said of her daughter’s death. “Her arms were wrapped up and I said why in the world are her arms wrapped like that. And he said because evidently, she was trying to protect her face and all and that her arms were just slithered.”
Reeves said she reported to the 911 dispatcher that the door to Robin’s bedroom was standing open the morning she found her daughter. She believes the killer or killers were already inside her home when she returned that night from church.
“I feel like they came out of her bedroom,” she explained. “That light was not on. I feel like they came out of there. And there was a lot of scuffling that had gone on in Hannah’s room. There was a flower arrangement on a brass stand in that hallway. I feel like she heard something and picked that up. In Hannah’s bedroom there was that brass stand and the flowers were scattered around and I feel like they just got her from behind.”
“I was in the same house when she died,” her son told us. “From my understanding, they could have just as easily killed me.”
While there have been no arrests in the case, Pat Morgan said the GBI does have some people they are interested in, but the office is still working on getting enough evidence.
“I strongly feel that we here at the GBI know who was involved with the case,” Morgan explained. “The problem is you have to prove it.”
Morgan also said it’s common to look into any partners and in this case, Reeves’ now deceased, ex-husband Robert Standridge was investigated.
“Her ex-husband had moved to California and at one point we had some tips that came in from California,” he said. “So, I dealt with some agencies out in California, we followed up to see what we could figure out.”
Even Reeve’s lawyer, Plunkett worked to ensure that her children went to her mother. And during that custody hearing, he questioned Robert Standridge about his role in his ex-wife’s murder.
He told us, “The sum was $12,500 that I had traced that he could not account for. When I asked the question on the stand, ‘did you use that money to have Robin killed?’ he said I plead the fifth amendment.”
Standridge added, “I talked to my dad maybe two years ago and he was so adamant that he had no involvement and all this and this, but it just felt rehearsed.”
21 years later, investigators still use technology and evidence found in the home to help solve the case.
Morgan said, “I know we have fingerprint evidence that is in AFIS, the Automatic Fingerprint Identification System. We’ve not been real lucky on DNA.”
NewsChannel 6 also spoke with Toombs Circuit District Attorney Bill Doupé, the prosecutor for several counties, including McDuffie. He told us his office is looking for what might be in plain sight in order to solve the Reeves case. He said, “The answer to this crime and other unsolved murders in McDuffie County is right in McDuffie County.” Additionally, he said his investigators are responsible for getting things set for trial. In the Reeves case, his office has a file, but does not get in the way of the GBI or the police department. Doupé is hopeful it will be solved. He wants this for Faye Reeves and he hopes the community will help. Despite 21 years passing, he is hopeful and has a lot of faith in law enforcement.
For loved ones, they remain hopeful in one day seeing justice. That’s someone admitting what they did and being found guilty of the murder.
“We have continued to make sure that it doesn’t go away,” Love stressed. ‘We have a vigil for Robin every year on February 27.”
And Neville added, “I don’t know how you could go around, and especially it’s a small town, it’s not like you didn’t know I was around. I worked at the grocery store and I always thought oh God it’s someone that I’m checking out being nice to.”
“I don’t need justice. I need closure,” Standridge said.
“I have no idea if they’re even alive, but I would like to see them go to prison,” her mother said.
Anyone with any information about the Robin Reeves case should contact the GBI at 706-595-2575. You can also use the GBI Tip Line: 1-800-597-TIPS (8477) or go online or use the See Something Send Something Mobile App. You can contact Thomson Police Department at 706-595-2166
Next time on the Cold Case Project, we take you to North Augusta where 28-year-old Travis Smith was shot to death at an apartment complex, September 29, 2012. What family and law enforcement need to get justice and close the case.
Photojournalist: Regynal Mckie