OLATHE, Kan. — A world of sexual slavery and sadomasochism was disclosed Monday as testimony began in the trial of a Kansas man accused of killing six women, some of whom he met through the Internet.
Defendant John Robinson, 56, sat stoically as a Canadian woman testified that her Michigan friend, Suzette Trouten, 27, had become involved with Robinson both as an employee and as a sex slave shortly before Trouten's bludgeoned body was found in a barrel on Robinson's property in June.
"I felt something was very wrong," said Lore Remington, the first witness to appear at Robinson's preliminary hearing in Johnson County District Court, describing one of her last communications with Trouten, whom she met through the Internet.
Remington, a soft-spoken wife and mother, described how she, Trouten and Robinson were involved in the world of "BDSM," involving bondage, dominance, submission and masochism with various partners.
Relationships were built over the Internet, helping Trouten become an active player with various "doms," or dominant males, including eventually Robinson, Remington testified.
Robinson is accused of murdering six women in Kansas and Missouri and faces 56 felony counts of fraud and forgery in crimes that investigators allege stretched over 15 years. If convicted, he faces the death penalty.
Authorities have said Robinson, a married father of four, led a double life, surfing the Internet as a "master" of domination and luring women by posing as a successful entrepreneur offering jobs and romance.
Carlos Ybarra, a friend and worker at the trailer park where Robinson lived with his wife, testified that the gray-haired, bespectacled Robinson frequently spoke of having girlfriends and once showed a picture of a woman spread naked across a table and tied at the hands and feet. He described the woman as his girlfriend, Ybarra said.
According to testimony Monday, Trouten left her home in Michigan in February 2000 to move to Overland Park, Kan., telling family and friends she was accepting a lucrative job from Robinson to work as a caretaker for Robinson's elderly father.
Trouten's mother, Carolyn Trouten, faced Robinson with a cold stare as she stated she knew nothing of her daughter's interests in bondage. She said she was suspicious when her daughter told her that Robinson planned to pay her well and take her traveling on a yacht, and when Suzette Trouten stopped calling home in early March, she began to suspect foul play.
Carolyn Trouten described in court how she received computer-generated letters signed by her daughter, one of which was postmarked from Mexico, telling her family not to worry about her.
But Johnson Country Dist. Atty. Paul Morrison said "Suzette Trouten was very dead at the time these letters were mailed," and Ybarra said Robinson had asked Ybarra's mother, who was visiting Kansas in the spring of 2000, to take some letters back to Mexico and mail them for him.
Robinson was arrested in June after authorities found Trouten's body and the bodies of four other women stuffed in steel drums hidden in a rented storage facility and on land Robinson owned.
The body of one missing woman whom Robinson is accused of murdering has not been found. And in a bizarre twist, prosecutors allege that after Robinson murdered the 19-year-old woman he gave her infant daughter to his brother and sister-in-law to raise. The girl is now a teenager still living with Robinson's brother.