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A Feint Distraction

Updated: Dec 30, 2023

At what point does it become enough? In life we are sometimes dealt a hand that we struggle to overcome. Typically, we find a way out the other side to greet the sunlight. However, for some people it can be too much. Troubled childhood, family secrets, deep trauma, mental illness, or even financial means can cause feelings of giving up. If you lose the one thing that keeps you going, what else do you have left? Maybe you just want to leave everything behind. You have nothing left to lose. But what if losing your job was just a coincidence and your disappearance has nothing to do with it. In this story we talk about a man that was loved that had four children. It seems that he left on foot and left everything he owned behind but why? That is the question we ask about the vanishing of Robin Smith.

First, I would like to thank Karen for reaching out to me, to cover Robin’s story. Although Karen and Robin were divorced for almost a decade by the time Robin disappeared, she still cared for Robin, and they still shared a family. She wants to be able to find Robin if he is still out there but if he is gone, he still needs to be laid to rest.

Robin Gary Smith was born in California to his mother Linda Crabtree and Ron Smith on August 1, 1974. He grew up in a huge family with many brothers and sisters. Robin’s mother had mental health issues and left Ron with the children. It wasn't until the age of 14 when Robin's mother came back into the picture. Around the same time, Robin learned that Ron was not his biological father. This experience affected him deeply and he would become more distant from Ron. Eventually the family packed up and moved to Walla Walla Washington, where they planted their roots.

Karen lived close by and met Robin through mutual friends. They lived in different towns and attended different high schools, but they had their first chance encounter, and the rest was history. Meeting in their mid-teens they quickly fell in love. Robin then met another important person, his biological father, named Roger Baker, when he was 18 and they quickly formed a connection. After high school, Robin and Karen married in 1995 and Robin joined the US Army and was stationed in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. This path was short lived as Robin was diagnosed as mentally unstable and was discharged from the Army. During this time Robin and Karen had two sons. His boys adored their father but the marriage between Robin and Karen was on the rocks. Because of this, Robin found comfort in online chat rooms. He eventually met a woman on one of these sites named Amber Beyers.

By the year 2000, Robin and Karen were divorced, and Robin moved to Montana to be in a relationship with Amber. The two hit it off and it wasn’t long before Amber became pregnant with their first daughter and with their second daughter closely following. The relationship would last about five years before Robin and Amber split up. Robin moved out of the home and rented out a basement in a friend’s house. In 2009, Robin was forced to move. His roommate said he was “acting bizarre” and she had to tell him to leave. Robin's family thought he might have been off his medication. Sometime between 2000 and 2007 Robin was diagnosed as schizophrenic. When he went to visit his sons in Washington, in 2007 Karen found out he was on medication and learned of his diagnosis. He seemed to be doing good that year and his mental health was better. After he was asked to leave, Robin managed to find his own place to call home. At this time Robin was working at a casino in Billings Montana. Robin seemed to have a simple lifestyle. He would go to work and then come home. In the summer of 2009, Karen dropped her sons off to Robin for a visit that lasted almost a month. Things were good and Robin took his boys camping. They had a great time spending quality time with their dad. Karen droves back to Billings at the end of August to pick up the boys. Nothing seemed amiss but Robin was in a hurry to make it to work. That would be the last time Karen would see Robin and the boys would see their father.

On September 1, 2009, Robin was last seen at his home in Billings Montana. Two days would go by and on September 3, 2009, Amber, Robin’s now ex-girlfriend, was at work. She worked for the postal service. She noticed there was a letter from Robin. Finding this odd she immediately opened the letter that was addressed to her. The letter was typed and read as a suicide “good-bye” letter. Immediately panicking she contacted the local police department to file a missing person's report. They didn't seem to take his missing person's report too seriously, as Robin was an adult and was free to do what he wanted. It wasn't until September 5, 2009, police were called to check on a vehicle that had been sitting in the parking lot of at in Pine Grove campgrounds. The car was parked with all the windows rolled down and Robins personal items such as his cellphone and keys were left on the seat. Nothing in or around the vehicle looked to be disturbed. However, when they looked through Robin’s history on his cellphone, they saw Karen had been in contact with him recently. Police reached out to Karen and to her surprise she had no idea where Robin would be. She had seen him the week prior when she picked up her boys from a month-long visitation with him, but they haven’t spoken since. Police went to Robin’s work where they found out Robin was fired from his job the week earlier. Robin's family can't remember why he was terminated. Karen seems to think Robin was in a rush that day she last saw him to work, maybe he was already late. What Karen can remember Robin would have been working here at least or about a year and he could have been tardy in the past. Robin's sisters were able to make it to his apartment weeks later when they found that inside his home was in normal condition aside from the fact that he must have left in a hurry because there was half-eaten breakfast still on the table. A particular scene that has stood out to them over a decade later.

Their first big lead came from Robin’s good friend Paula. Paula stated to investigators that Robin may have been killed by a local drug dealer. There was a story she knew of that speculates Robin could have been seeing this dealer’s girlfriend and or Robin owed this drug dealer money. Police were never able to track down the dealer and his girlfriend, and that story was never able to be followed up on. But people know who these individuals are, and it is stated they left the city and have never been heard from again. (Paula is now deceased.) Aside from Paula's story the only other lead to surface in Robin's case was when a man from Oklahoma went into a church claiming to be Robin Smith. The minister of the church called the police and when they arrived thought it would be best to get the man checked out at a local hospital. After getting the man checked in the officers came across the missing report on Robin from Montana. By the time they realized this connection the man was discharged. However, there was a third officer that searched for the man that left the hospital. He was able to locate him, but this officer has stated he was not the missing Robin Smith. This incident has been an emotional rollercoaster for the family. The minister of the church along with the first two officers believed this man was indeed their missing Robin but, the third officer that located the man later believed it was not Robin. So, Robin's family is left in state of confusion wondering if he slipped away from their grasp.

What happened to Robin Gary Smith on September 1, 2009? It seems he wrote a suicide letter to his former girlfriend and mailed it to her. It also appears he drove to Pine Grove Campground, parked his vehicle and walked away, leaving everything behind. But why, what was his breaking point? Losing a job can be a huge setback for someone but would that push someone over the edge? Possibly, but what about the story Paula had heard and relayed to detectives? Or the man that claimed his name was Robin Smith from Oklahoma? Could Robin have made it seem like he was going to end it but didn't, and just wanted a fresh start? All we know is that Robin is still missing. No one has ever found him or his remains. Did this man take his own life, or was it all a feint, some elaborate distraction to avoid being noticed. We may never know.

If you have any information in the disappearance of Robin Gary Smith, you can contact the Stillwater County sheriff's department at (406)3225326.

Please take a look at the picture. This is not an exact photo. Karen sent me this because Robin had a spider tattoo on his hand. Something I think is significant. The spider was more around the area of his thumb on the hand.

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