Trail of evidence leads to arrest after college student goes missing after 1st date; body part found

Robinson, 19, was excited about a first date with Maxwell Anderson, 33 -- who is now charged in her death

ByZoe Sottile, CNN, CNNWire
Monday, April 15, 2024
Family searches for WI woman after leg found, date charged in homicide
Sade Robinson didn't show up for a shift at Pizza Shuttle in Milwaukee after a date with Maxwell Anderson. The next day her leg was found dismembered.

MILWAUKEE -- When 19-year-old Sade Robinson didn't show up for her shift at a Wisconsin pizza restaurant on April 2, her co-workers immediately suspected something was wrong.

The evening before, Robinson had planned a first date with Maxwell Anderson, 33, at a local seafood restaurant, according to a criminal complaint against Anderson. He is now facing charges of homicide, mutilation of a corpse, and arson in connection with Robinson's death.

The young college student had been looking forward to the date, even telling a worker in her building how excited she was, the complaint said. She texted Anderson she was "feeling seafood" and headed out to meet him at a seafood restaurant where he used to work, wearing ripped jeans and a white shirt, according to the complaint.

Robinson was a vibrant, extroverted presence at the Pizza Shuttle. Manager Justin Romano described her as "very outgoing, she would talk to everybody here. She was always there to lighten the mood."

Not showing up for work the next day "wasn't like her at all," Romano, the manager on duty at the Pizza Shuttle the day Robinson disappeared, told WDJT-TV. "We kind of knew something was up; we had been calling her all day."

One of Robinson's friends called the police that night, saying she had not returned her calls or shown up for work, the criminal complaint said. Police visited Robinson's apartment for a welfare check but did not find her there.

A harrowing trail of evidence

The restaurant closed for three days during the search for Robinson and authorities discovered a grisly set of clues.

The morning after her date with Anderson, Robinson's vehicle was discovered on fire. The 2020 Civic had sustained "extreme fire damage completely damaging the interior," according to the criminal complaint. Despite the fire damage, authorities were able to identify the outfit Robinson had been wearing the night of the date, as well as part of an iPhone consistent with her phone in the burned car.

Later the same day, police were called to the scene of another gruesome discovery: a human leg on the beach in Warnimont Park, in the Milwaukee suburb of Cudahy, which appeared "sawn off" at the hip, according to the criminal complaint. An examination determined the leg belonged to a Black woman, approximately 5 feet tall. It was identified as Robinson's using preliminary DNA evidence, the complaint states.

And on April 6, as police canvassed the area where Robinson's car had been found, they identified more remains, including a human foot and "what appeared to be human flesh." All appeared to come from the same person, the complaint said.

Phone records found by a friend of Robinson's and her mother using a location-sharing app were detailed in the complaint. They show Robinson's phone traveling the night of April 1 from the seafood restaurant to a nearby sports bar, then to Anderson's home and then to the park where the remains were discovered.

Suspect faces homicide and mutilation charges

On Friday, Wisconsin authorities charged Anderson with first-degree intentional homicide, mutilating a corpse, and arson of property other than a building. He would face life in prison if convicted on the homicide charge.

The complaint details evidence police say ties Anderson to the crimes, including surveillance video, witness accounts and phone records. Authorities also found blood in Anderson's house and "several gasoline containers," it states.

The complaint says evidence led authorities to conclude Robinson was dead.

"The facts mentioned in this complaint cause Complainant to conclude that the Defendant intentionally killed and then dismembered Robinson with the intent to conceal the homicide, and it occurred between the arrival at the Defendant's residence and his departure from the Warnimont Park area," it states.

Anthony Cotton, an attorney representing Anderson, told CNN his client "is presumed innocent and we will fight this matter vigorously in court."

At a Friday news conference, police said the search for more of Robinson's remains and other evidence continues.

When asked if her office was reviewing other cases of missing women for possible connections, Milwaukee County Sheriff Danita Ball said, "So far, there hasn't been any evidence that there are any other victims."

After Anderson's first court appearance, Robinson's mother, Sheena Scarbrough, called his arrest "justice for Sade."

A verified GoFundMe for Robinson's memorial service described Robinson as "a loving daughter, a cherished sister, and a dear friend to many."

Robinson, originally from Mississippi, was about to graduate from Milwaukee Area Technical College and pursue a career in criminal justice, according to the fundraiser.

"The pain of losing Sade has left a void in the hearts of her family, especially her grieving mother and little sister, along with other relatives, friends, and the entire community who loved and supported her," reads the description. "As we come together to honor Sade's memory, we aim to provide her with the dignified farewell she deserves."

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