How Kara Robinson Outsmarted A Serial Killer & Escaped With Her Life
February 10, 2022 ~ By Shari Rose
Kara Robinson Chamberlain was just 15 years old when she outsmarted serial killer Richard Evonitz and escaped his grasp. By keeping a level head as best she could during her abduction, the teenager waited until her kidnapper let his guard down to make her escape. This is the harrowing true story of Kara Robinson’s survival in South Carolina.
Kara Robinson Abducted By Richard Evonitz
On June 24, 2002, 15-year-old Kara Robinson spent the day at her best friend’s house in Columbia, S.C. The girls decided to walk to a nearby lake, but first her friend called her mother to check if they needed to get anything done around the house before they left for the day. The teens were asked to water the flowers in the front of the house, and Robinson volunteered to do it.
As Robinson watered the flowers, she noticed a green Trans Am Firebird drive out of the neighborhood. Then, she watched it return and pull into the home’s driveway. A man exited the car, and warmly greeted her. The man was Richard Marc Evonitz, a local serial killer who had murdered three young girls before targeting her.
He told Robinson he had these magazines to sell, and asked if her parents were home. Robinson replied they were not. He then offered to give her the magazines. And as he leaned in, she said she “felt a red flag somewhere in my head.” At that moment, the man pressed a gun to the side of her neck. Evonitz threatened to shoot her if she screamed, and forced her back to his Trans Am in broad daylight.
“I think I felt a moment of terror, but I knew I just needed to do what he told me to do,” Robinson said.
In the back seat of his car was a large, plastic storage container. Evonitz ordered her to step inside.
“At that point, my brain shut off my emotions,” she said. “I just went into survival mode. I put one leg in at a time, and then I turned around, and I was on my back, in a fetal position. He loosely set the lid on top, and he got in the car, and he reversed out of the driveway, and drove out of the neighborhood.”
While in the plastic container, Robinson paid attention to each turn and stop the vehicle made. She was familiar enough with the area, and tried to figure out where he was heading.
Robinson Held At Evonitz’s Apartment For 18 Hours
Richard Evonitz drove on a freeway for some time before pulling over on the side of the road. He opened the container, and remained eerily calm as he told Robinson he was going to tie and gag her.
“I needed him to believe that I wasn’t going to try anything, so I just went along with him,” Robinson said.
After tying up the teenager, her kidnapper put her back into the container, and drove for a couple more minutes until reaching the apartment he shared with his wife. Evonitz dragged the entire container up the driveway into the threshold.
Once inside the building, he took the top off the plastic container and Robinson studied every detail of the apartment.
“I was trying to read his mail, I was looking at the magnets on his refrigerator,” Robinson said. “I knew who his doctor was, I knew who his dentist was.”
While she remained tied up, Evonitz asked her many questions about her life, and wrote down her answers. In turn, she tried to learn more about him, gathering details about his past military service and the different array of pet lizards and fish in his place.
However, she says she knew what his intentions were for her and did her best to prepare for the inevitable.
“People don’t kidnap young girls and not sexually assault them,” Robinson said in 2020. “So I knew that was coming.”
Robinson did everything in her power to stay calm and keep her head.
“While I was being assaulted, it felt like something that happened to someone else. I kind of shut off my brain, and left my body,” she said.
Over the hours, Robinson kept reminding herself to collect information about her captor, wait until he was complacent, and make an escape when the moment came.
“I can’t explain where it came from, there was just this voice that said my options were to do what I was told and to escape and to survive, or to panic, to fight, and maybe die,” she recounted. “So I strong-willed myself into remaining as calm as I could, as long as I could.”
About 8 hours into her captivity, Evonitz turned on the local news to see if Robinson’s kidnapping made it into the press. There was no information about her abduction yet. He then told her that no one missed her. He also promised Robinson that he would release her and she could go to the police, but she would forever be known as “the girl who got raped.”
“And so it always kind of stuck in my mind that there was going to be this stigma attached to me from then on, I was going to be the girl who got kidnapped, the girl who was raped,” she said.
At some point during her imprisonment, Evonitz placed Robinson back into the plastic storage container because he had to make a phone call. He called his wife, Hope, who was on vacation with his mother at Disney World.
That night, he drugged the teenager with a cocktail of Valium and marijuana. He restrained her to the bed with handcuffs and tied one of her legs to a corner of the bed. He slept next to her that night.
“I woke up the next morning and he was still asleep and that was it, that was the time,” she said.
More stories: How Cindy Paulson Escaped Serial Killer Robert Hansen
Kara Robinson Escapes Her Abductor
While Evonitz slept, Robinson tried to free herself from the restraints. She pulled the handcuffs toward her mouth and used her teeth to unscrew the C clasp that secured the cuffs to the bed. Her hands remained cuffed, but she was free to untie the restraint on one of her ankles. Moving as slowly as possible to not wake her assailant, she freed herself and got up.
“Then I just kind of slid out of bed without waking him up,” she said. “I got my clothes back on and went to the living room.”
An accordion-style closet door was left open to block her access to the front door. She knew it would make noise to close it, so she simultaneously closed that door and opened the front door to the outside. Then she dashed out of the apartment in bare feet.
Robinson ran to a passing car with two male passengers and told them to take her to the police station because she had been kidnapped. Before they left the area, she made sure to point to the apartment she had escaped from, imploring the men to remember it.
They drove her to the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, and the 15-year-old spoke to a deputy. However, she felt that he thought she was lying about her kidnapping and assault.
“The deputy that was there, I felt he did not believe anything I was saying,” she said. “I still have handcuffs on one of my wrists.”
Robinson continued, “It was pretty infuriating. Here I am, I’ve actually done what I’ve set out to do, I escaped, and now I’m in an area that should be a safe zone, and now I’m being treated like I’m lying about this.”
Before they took Robinson to a hospital, deputies drove her back to Richard Evonitz’s apartment. But because the units all looked so similar in the complex, she could not identify which one belonged to her captor. Nonetheless, Robinson knew a woman with long red hair lived there because she noticed a hairbrush with strands of that hair type during her abduction.
While on the property, the deputies stopped a property manager driving a golf cart, and divulged some details that Robinson knew about the apartment and Evonitz. The manager knew exactly who he was and directed them to the correct unit. But the serial killer had already fled.
Evonwitz Flees From Law Enforcement
Deputies obtained a search warrant for his apartment, and found an old newspaper article about the kidnappings and murders of two sisters, Kristin and Kati Lisk. Police reached out to Richard Evonitz’s sister, who shared that he had confided in her about where he was hiding. Deputies arrived at a motel less than an hour away. However, Evonitz had once again disappeared.
Due to Robinson’s firsthand account, police knew plenty of information about her assailant, including that he drove a green Trans Am. Evonitz was soon spotted on a highway in Sarasota, FL, and police pulled him over. As officers closed in, Evonitz killed himself with a gunshot to the head.
“I remember just hoping they could catch up with him because I wanted to have my day in court across from him,” Robinson said. “I wanted him to look at me across a courtroom and know that choosing me, that was his biggest mistake.”
After his death, police connected Evonitz to the kidnapping and murder of 16-year-old Sofia Silva in September 1996, as well as the killings of the Lisk sisters in May 1997. Police had no idea Evonitz was behind these killings until Robinson’s escape.
During an investigation of his car, they found a palm print and fingerprints matching Kristin Lisk from the inside of his trunk. Though the sisters were abducted and killed five years prior, that physical evidence still remained. Additionally, fibers from the fuzzy handcuffs used to restrain Robinson were found on all three girls’ bodies.
More stories: Jennifer Holliday: A Story of Survival in East Texas
Kara Robinson Comes Home & Enters Law Enforcement
After her release from the hospital, Robinson returned home to her family. She worked through her recovery privately and chose not to share what happened to her with most people in her life.
“I definitely wanted to go home,” she said. “But I didn’t want anybody to treat me like I was made of glass. And I didn’t want to talk about this thing that happened to me.”
She continued: “I don’t say ‘why me’ because saying ‘why me’ can be a really slippery slope into feeling sorry for yourself,” Robinson said in 2021. “I know it was me because God gave me the strength to get out of that apartment.”
One year after the abduction, Robinson got a summer job at the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, the same agency she was taken to after escaping Richard Evonitz.
After high school graduation, she entered college to become a teacher, but soon switched career paths to law enforcement. She attended the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy.
While sitting in class one day, Robinson was shocked to find the instructor teaching about her case. The day’s lesson was about survivors, and what happened to her as a teenager was brought to the attention of the entire class.
“At the end of the class, I went up to [the instructor] and I said, ‘I just want you to know that Kara is me,’” she recounted.
The only woman in her class, Robinson graduated from the academy in 2010. She became a school resource officer in Richland County, S.C.
Kara Robinson Chamberlain Today
Today, Kara Robinson Chamberlain is married with two young sons. In 2019, she appeared in “Smart Justice,” a television special hosted by fellow survivor, Elizabeth Smart. The show brought six abduction survivors together to share their experiences and recovery.
Robinson then began sharing her story through other mediums. She created a TikTok account and speaks on a range of related topics, from how to get out of handcuffs, healing from trauma, and recovering from sexual abuse and violent crime. She currently has 224K followers.
More stories: Teka Adams’ Survival After Fetal Abduction Attempt
More stories: A Hitman Came for Susan Kuhnhausen. He Didn’t Survive.