Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Darren O'Neall

Fear of the Dark

Like many kids, Robin grew up being afraid of the dark. At first it seemed natural enough to her parents, as if it was only a childhood phase that she was going through. But as time went on she began to dwell upon her fears, and often had disturbing thoughts that something terrible was going to happen to her.  Family members be­lieved that might have been one of the reasons why she kept to herself. She had friends, but she was always very selective about the people with whom she chose to associate, and she always remained close to her family.

Perhaps more of a homebody type than many of her peers, Robin tried hard to be a typical teenager during her high school years. Like most teenagers, she wanted acceptance from kids her own age and sometimes bowed to pressure, such as taking up the habit of smoking cigarettes. But she never did anything to cause her parents any real problems or grief. Even though she made good grades in school, she didn't particularly like school, and as time went on it became tough for her mother to get her out of bed in the morning. But even that, aside from occasionally showing up late for school, never really became a problem for anyone. If she had a problem that she couldn't solve herself or if something bothered her, she would always go to her mother with her troubles, just as all of Edna's kids would. Of course, she had the usual fights with her three brothers and two sisters, and there was a certain amount of sibling rivalry among all of them, just as there is in any large family, but when it came down to the nitty-gritty they were always there for one another just as their mother had always taught them to be.

Despite the love and positive reinforcement that Robin received at home, she did not grow up being overly confident. She often worried about her looks and became self-conscious, which, again, was typical for a teenage girl. She was pretty, but she didn't really think of herself as being very pretty. She had had a hernia on her navel when she was a baby, not a "normal belly button," which, even though surgically repaired when she was an infant, transformed into a rather small line with an indentation as she grew up. Although it wasn't particularly noticeable and didn't mar her attractiveness, she didn't want people to see it. For reasons that no one really understood, she developed an almost unnatural fear of having her body exposed, perhaps because of her herniated navel. She even dreaded going to the doctor out of fear that she would be asked to disrobe for an examination, and would see a doctor only when it became absolutely necessary.

There was also a certain dark or grim side to Robin. Besides being afraid of the dark, which might have stemmed from her fondness for a country and western song, "Jeannie Is Afraid of the Dark," that she listened to constantly as a child, Robin withdrew into her own little shell when her mother divorced her second husband, Robin's father, Stuart, in 1978. As if being withdrawn wasn't a serious enough problem for her to cope with, she began having recurring nightmares of being held captive in a crowded, dark place, nightmares that her mother now believes, in retrospect, were a chilling foreshadowing of what was to come.

Within a year or so, as she began to accept her parents' divorce, Robin started coming out of the protective shell that she had constructed around herself. By then she had become close friends with two other girls, Julie and Trish, and the trio was inseparable. Together almost constantly, everybody soon began calling them the Three Musketeers.

Then, in 1982, Trish suddenly announced to Robin and Julie that she was moving to California. She was going to stay with a friend there and find a job, she told her friends. Robin, then 16, was deeply saddened to see her friend leave, but she nonetheless wished Trish luck and issued her a stern warning not to get drawn into the nether world of drugs or prostitution. Trish promised her friends that she wouldn't, and assured them that she would behave herself and that she would stay in touch. Following a tearful going-away party, Trish departed her friends' lives.


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