Robin Smith has been missing since 1998 & Gulfport Police have reopened the investigation

By A.J. Giardina – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Smith has been missing since September 2, 1998. At the time of her disappearance police described her as a black female with light complexion, 5-feet-3 inches and weighing 120 pounds.

Smith worked at Gulfport Memorial Hospital as a Unit Clerk.  According to family members she called home to say she was going to make a quick stop before driving back home to Pass Christian.

She punched out her time card at 11:26 p.m...walked down a hallway, out the doors and was last seen getting into her 1997 Mitsubishi Galant in the hospital parking lot.

Alma Holloway said, "She called home to let my mom know that she was stopping by the store to pick up a few things for her and my grandfather which mom was taking care of and all we know is that she never showed up at home."

Smith's sister Alma Holloway says the next day they filed a missing persons report with Gulfport Police.

Sister-in-law, Angela Smith says foul play had to be involved because Smith had two young children.

"Well I know Robin wouldn't just go off and leave her children because I don't care what hours she worked, she always called, more than one time, to see how her kids were and to check on them," Smith stated. "Whatever happened to her, she didn't leave on her own free will."

Lt. Craig Petersen is the detective assigned to the cold case. He says her car was located less than 8 weeks after her disappearance.

He said , "It was on October 28th, almost 2 months after the disappearance, was found at South Pines Apartment in Orange Grove."  He added, "It was after Hurricane George and some of the tenants called in a suspicious vehicle when it was found there.  Certainly it was a drop off point for the vehicle, but how that apartment complex is significant is still a mystery to me."

Tim Bryant was the boyfriend and the father of Smith's two children. They met when he was coaching at Pass Christian High School and she was a senior.

WLOX interviewed Bryant 5 days after Robin's disappearance in 1998.

In a 1998 interview he said, "I was in shock. I know Robin and I kinda strayed away in the past few weeks. We always had a bond with these kids. I talked to her 9 o'clock Wednesday. Nothing out of the ordinary. We had a normal conversation."

Bryant was a long-time girls basketball coach at Ocean Springs High School before moving to Texas this past summer.

According to family members Smith and the children were living with Bryant but they left following an altercation. They say she and the kids moved in with her mom in Pass Christian. That was three weeks before she disappeared.

Det. Lt. Craig Petersen said, " We do know that she had an ongoing relationship, a long term relationship. That they had some trouble in their relationship. All that was explored by the original case detective, but still no clear direction of what happened to Robin."

Stan Vance was the original case detective in Robin's disappearance.  He retired from the Gulfport Police Department in April of 2003 as a Detective Lieutenant. I asked Vance if Bryant was a person of interest in the disappearance?

Vance stated, "I had nothing at the time to tell me he was, but I had nothing at the time to tell me that he was not.  There was not an in depth interview conducted with Mr. Bryant. There were times when there were questions asked and he was interviewed."

Vance is now retired but said, "He was interviewed the first night that the case was opened. And the information that they had was given to us, information that we looked into but it was not anything that could take us into any one direction."

Vance says for five years he reviewed all the information collected that could help solve this cold case and says without closure, it's been frustrating.

"It's been a difficult case for me. It was one I really hated to leave when I retired but it's been even more difficult for the family."

Alma Holloway wants this cold case solved saying, "I would like for them to go back and interview the ex-boyfriend, co-workers that worked if they saw anything or if they remember anything. You know just go back to step one."

Vance says even though it's been 12 years, he still believes the person responsible for Smith's disappearance can be brought to justice with the help of the public.

Vance is asking for help from the public, "I would like to see anybody that knows anything or even thinks they know anything that may be related to this case to call the police department. If you can't call the police department, you don't feel safe doing that, call Crime Stoppers."

If anyone has any information into the disappearance of Robin Smith, please call Mississippi Coast Crime Stoppers at 1-877-787-5898.

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