Book: Anyone You Want Me To Be : A True Story of Sex and Death on the Internet
Authors: John Douglas and Stephen Singular
Anyone You Want Me To Be: A True Story of Sex and Death on the Internet interested me because I see myself as a part of the computer generation. My first computer experiences began in the 80′s using my parents Apple IIC computer and taking classes in school. Like most people in America, I find myself very reliant on my computer. Paying bills online, communicating with my friends and family, planning vacations, and researching nearly anything(!) added to using the computer nearly all day at work – I am addicted to the information being right at my fingertips, and I am challenged if I can’t find something immediately. I picked up this book and read the slipcover to find it was about the first known Internet Serial Killer. That immediately peaked my interest.
John Edward Robinson is a sick man. This becomes more and more obvious while reading the information that John Douglas and Stephen Singular provide throughout this book.
For me the book started out differently than I imagined. I had figured it would start right out into discussing his crimes relating to his Internet victims, but it didn’t. Like many serial killers, John Edward Robinson had many criminal experiences before the murder victims were even close to coming into the picture.
The book begins with author John Douglas introducing himself and explaining his experiences working with the FBI and his part in the development of the Behavioral Science Unit at Quantico, VA. After his retirement from the FBI, he explains that the desire to educate the public about educating themselves from dangerous people wasn’t declining, so he continued to speak on college campuses and make presentations. He explains that once the World Wide Web came into existence, an entire new criminal realm was created.
John Edward Robinson’s story begins with his birth in Cicero, IL – a suburb of Chicago. He was born in 1943 in neighborhood that still saw gangsters like Al Capone as role models. His upbringing seemed to start out normally enough and he eventually became an Eagle Scout who traveled to London to give a performance to Queen Elizabeth II.
Once he entered high school, John Robinson wasn’t a great student. He was attending a seminary and thinking of becoming a priest. It’s reported that in school he was thought of mostly for his shrewdness, according to the authors, “always thinking about what he would do or say next and calculating the effect he had on others.”
After high school, Robinson went to Junior College then met Nancy Jo Lynch in 1964. Nancy was to become Robinson’s wife and mother of his four children. According to the authors, “Robinson had avoided legal trouble, but almost as soon as he got married, this changed. His living expenses were increasing and he was under pressure to take care of his wife and his about-to-arrive child. He didn’t respond to this by working harder of more hours. Before long, he was accused of stealing money from his employer.”
The next portions of the book go through the various companies that John Robinson worked for. He stole from nearly all of his employers, he lied about his credentials, abilities, and work experiences, and was fired time and time again. John Robinson seemed to become more and more sure of himself, providing fake documentation that he would proudly display in his office showing his degree in one area or another. The easygoing conversations and relationships he developed with people seemed to carry him along for a great period of time without getting him into “too” much trouble.
After getting fired from perhaps the last company he was comfortable working for, John Robinson decided to go into business for himself. He had different ideas and people invested in them. These investments seemed to do nothing else but line the pockets of Robinson. He scammed more people than would actually come forward, as they were embarrassed that they were had by a con-man.
Authorities were familiar with Robinson for quite a long time. Because he lived between Kansas/Missouri – there were a lot of problems convicting him of his white-collar crimes due to jurisdictional issues. Authorities charged him with several crimes where he would be placed on probation and have to pay restitution. Authorities in Kansas were finally able to put him in jail from 1987-1991 for felony theft. He was to have served 5 years, however he was released early due to good behavior. Once released, he was turned over to Missouri courts who also sentenced him to prison, but he was released by a physician recommendation.
During his time in jail, Robinson was introduced to computers, this was the beginning of the really destructive phase of his life.
In 1995 Robinson bought a computer and began contacting women online in S&M rooms looking to become their “Slavemaster” – the online name he became best known by. It seemed that he would typically find a connection with lonely women that were looking for a change in their lives, that also had interest in becoming submissive to him. He encouraged several women to move to the Kansas area with the promise of his companionship, that he would pay for their housing and provide them with jobs. At least 5 women made the fateful decision to make this move. When they arrived to Kansas, although each story is slightly different from the one before, the women signed a slave contract with Robinson, and soon found that all of the promises he made were not to be fulfilled. He convinced them that he was no longer married, that he was a successful businessman who traveled world-wide and he would have them traveling as well.
As his “slaves” the women were there to please him and provide him with pleasure from any deviant sexual behavior that he wanted – including taking nude pictures and filming various sex acts. There were many different devices used on these women, and the manner he spoke to them proved to be very degrading.
One of the rules he had for these women was that they weren’t to let their families know the specifics of their whereabouts, and several times he would give them instructions to sign many blank pages of paper and address envelopes to their loved ones – telling them they wouldn’t have time with all their traveling to send letters home and he would handle it. The women’s families would become concerned after not hearing from them, they would received letters hand-signed, but with the general tone and contents of the letter not sounding like the women they knew, and many people contacted the authorities to make missing-person reports.
After his jail time, his wife Nancy moved the family into a trailer park that she managed. Robinson was always looked at as appearing very busy, and always off to do some business. Nancy had thought about divorce several times before, suspecting infidelity from her husband, but never filed because her children always begged her to take him back. The family was remarkably ignorant to Robinson’s behavior – the author believes this can be credited to Robinson being able to compartmentalize his life – meeting women through the Internet nearly all day, being a part of BDSM groups and scamming people, yet coming home and being a doting husband, father, and grandfather.
Robinson finally was a little too careless with his actions and police were able to secure search warrants for his home, additional ranch area in Kansas, and storage facilities that he had. These warrants were served and police made incredibly gruesome discoveries. 5 women were killed by hammer blows to the head and placed in barrels, rotting in their own body fluids. This part of the book was difficult and gory to read – but obviously necessary to the proper telling of the story.
The 5 computers that were seized from his home had to be completely poured over. Since this was such a new area to the authorities the book digressed at this point – further explaining the technical nature of securing information to be used against someone in a legal matter. My fascination with computers had me very interested in this part of the book. The sheer time, money, and efforts spent on gathering evidence is staggering and authorities had to work very hard to try to keep up with technology.
If you would like more information regarding his victims, Wikipedia has provided a list of the victims and their relationship to Robinson. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Edward_Robinson_(serial_killer)
It took over 2 years for Robinson’s case to finally come to trial. Again the issues regarding the Kansas/Missouri jurisdictions posed problems – the states wanted essentially to compete to bring him to trial first. There were several holdups by his legal representation, mostly caused by Robinson himself. He fired his first court-appointed representation to bring in another team of lawyers, and this team of lawyers tried unsuccessfully to continually delay the trial. There was a determined judge who finally forced the beginning of the case. Jury selection took days and days, the trial even longer. There was a portion of the trial where everyone was shown a sex-tape between Robinson and one of his victims – and this 40 minutes seemed to be pretty dreadful and disgusting to watch.
Robinson’s family continued the support for the husband, father, and grandfather. They released press statements explaining this couldn’t possibly be the person they knew and the truth would come to light. His wife testified explaining that this was simply not the man she knew. One of his daughters came to court to witness the trial faithfully.
The trial eventually ended and in a short time Robinson was found guilty. The jury also sentenced him to death – the 1st person in Kansas to be sentenced in 25 years. This was in 2003. To date, Robinson is still sentenced to death but still alive in prison.
I found this book to take me a longer time to read because of the technical nature. I appreciated the writing style of the authors, the progression and the layout of the book. There were parts of the book that I was very uncomfortable reading – but that should be expected due to the gruesome and sick nature of this man. I was incredulous about his family being so oblivious to his nature. The computer information about the book was also very fascinating to me. Throughout the book, my thoughts went to researching Robinson online, but I decided to wait until I finished the book before looking into more information about him – even to see what he looked like.
I feel this is an important read because it can serve as a valuable warning to people who are online, especially if they are meeting people and dating people they have met on the Internet. Obviously not everyone out there has bad intentions, but I think caution should be exercised at all times.
All in all, I would recommend reading Anyone You Want Me To Be : A True Story of Sex and Death on the Internet, it was interesting, relevant to current times, and disturbing.
Thank you for reading this review – I am still very new to this and I would be interested in any feedback regarding my writing style. -imnotannie