Missing South Daytona woman's car returned, bought from neighbor, granddaughter says

A car belonging to missing South Daytona woman Goldie Robinson, 78, was returned Saturday, police and family said.

Where in a less-complicated case the development might have brought some clarity, in this case it only raises more questions.

That's because, according to police and Robinson's granddaughter Stacia Manuel, the car was returned by two men who claimed to have bought it from Kimberly Smith or a member of her family.

Smith lives across the street from Robinson, and police said Wednesday a body later identified as 67-year-old Arthur Sheldon was found in the woods behind her mobile home.

Police have since said that Sheldon's death and Robinson's disappearance may be connected. Robinson's family now thinks Smith may be the connection.

South Daytona police Lt. Ron Wright said that two men were in the car, one of three Robinson owned, when it arrived in her neighborhood Saturday. Wright said the men had no idea the car's true owner was missing.

"They were innocent in this," Wright said.

According to Wright, police placed a hold on the vehicle's registration earlier in the investigation. Wright said the men drove to Robinson's neighborhood Saturday likely looking for a refund.

"When the neighbors saw Goldie's car, they called the police," Wright said. Manuel said the car, a red Ford Taurus, was purchased in cash and there was no valid bill of sale. She said the new owner had no clue what he was driving into.

"We blew his mind in the parking lot when we told him," she said.

Manuel said the men claimed to have bought the car from Kimberly Smith or a member of her family. Wright said his understanding was that the men said the car was bought from Smith's son, Samuel Adam Smith.

And while the Smiths are not considered suspects in Robinson's disappearance, Wright said the claim "lends more credence" to the possibility that they were involved in some way.

When family members became aware of Robinson's disappearance, police said, Kimberly Smith told Robinson's relatives that Robinson had been married and was on a honeymoon in the Carolinas, a claim that has since come into question.

Smith also provided the family a photo of Robinson with her supposed husband, "Rusty," police said.

However, investigators said they later found that man on Smith's couch. The man's real name is Russell, and he said he is not married to Robinson.

Smith is currently serving 364 days in the Orange County Jail for a probation violation. She has a history of convictions for identity theft and writing bad checks.

Manuel said Robinson's family thinks Smith is the key to unraveling both mysteries.

She said Smith was seen dressed as a nurse entering Sheldon's home by neighbors on numerous occasions, and police said Smith was caring for Russell and a disabled woman in her home. Manuel suspects that Smith may have gotten involved with her grandmother on similar terms.

"It's the exact situation that happened in my family," Manuel said.

Susan Jacobson of the Sentinel staff contributed to this report. Jeff Weiner can be reached at 407-420-5171 or jeweiner@orlandosentinel.com.

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