Daniel Robinson, a 24-year-old Black geologist, went missing in Arizona over three months ago. His father, David Robinson, is drawing attention to the lack of resources spent on his disappearance as opposed to others such as 22-year-old Gabby Petito, who has gripped a national audience.
In the shadow of Gabby Petito’s disappearance, many parents of missing Black children have taken to news outlets to urge authorities to give their child as much attention as they did a white, blond-haired, blue-eyed girl like Gabby.
“If the [police] stepped up to the plate, I wouldn’t be standing here now,” David Robinson said in a press conference on Sunday. Though South Carolina natives, Daniel’s father David has traveled to Arizona to be part of the search for his missing son.
“They need to do their part when it comes to urgency and not treat my son’s disappearance in a nonchalant attitude,” Daniel’s father said.
According to witnesses at Matrix New World Engineering, where Daniel Robinson worked, he had been acting strange right before he vanished without a trace. The College of Charleston graduate was described as 5’8″, 165 pounds, with brown eyes and part of his right forearm missing.
“He’s really happy-go-lucky, loves to have conversations and he’s always smiling,” family and friends said.
However, on June 23 at 9:15 a.m., co-worker Ken Elliot said he was acting very oddly near a site in Buckeye, Az. Elliot is the last person to have seen Daniel, and he said that he seemed distracted that day.
“He was just looking off into the desert,” Ken Elliot said. “He had a very, very distant look in his eyes. Whenever he’d turn around again, I would look at him and look into his eyes. The first thing I thought was maybe it was drugs or something, [but] his pupils were not dilated.”
Daniel Robinson then got in his Jeep, waved at Elliot, and took off. He has been missing ever since.
“When I saw that, my heart sank, because it just told me that he wasn’t going home,” Elliott said. “Something was really not right.”
After his father, David, and other family flew in to help police search a 70-mile radius around the worksite, someone found his Jeep in a ravine about a month after his disappearance. Authorities found Daniel’s phone, wallet, keys, and clothes, all within the vehicle.
Daniel’s father said it took police three days to start searching after he first reported Daniel’s disappearance. He believes those 72 hours in which he had to wait to file a missing person’s report were vital time that could have been used to find his son.
“I’d just seen his car. It took me three months to look at his car,” Daniel’s mother, Melissa Edmonds, said at the press conference on Sunday. “You thought you felt pain, try looking for your child and not knowing where he is.”
Daniel’s father alleged that the investigators were going to fly a helicopter around the area, but that the next morning he was informed that the flight was canceled.
He said that an officer told him that higher-ups called off the search since Daniel is “a grown man, and if he wants to leave he can leave.”
According to The Daily Beast, David Robinson has been in Arizona ever since, conducting independent investigations with the help of volunteers. If it’s a missing person case and not a criminal case for missing adults, the police do not have to spend as many resources, and David Robinson has had a difficult time convincing the police that foul play was involved in Daniel’s disappearance.
Calling Gabby Petito’s case, “a template for how missing person’s cases are handled in this country,” Daniel’s father said that, “When you’re Black, you have to work twice as hard for everything… That’s what’s happening here: I had to work twice as hard to get media attention.”