Robin Frances Murphy

Robin, circa 1995; Howard Gombert

  • Missing Since 04/09/1995
  • Missing From Carmel, New York
  • Classification Endangered Missing
  • Sex Female
  • Race White
  • Date of Birth 01/11/1978 (46)
  • Age 17 years old
  • Height and Weight 5'9, 140 pounds
  • Clothing/Jewelry Description A black and white plaid flannel shirt, ripped black jeans, black stockings and black boots. Carrying a small black purse.
  • Distinguishing Characteristics Caucasian female. Brown hair, blue eyes. Robin's hair was dyed black at the time of her disappearance.

Details of Disappearance

Robin was scheduled to meet her boyfriend, Matt Esposito, for dinner in their hometown of Carmel, New York on April 9, 1995. She was last seen at approximately 7:30 p.m., walking in the Shop-Rite Plaza Shopping Center (alternatively called the Carmel Center or the Nichols Plaza Shopping Center) on Route 52.

Robin never arrived at the restaurant and has never been heard from again. The shopping center is less than one mile from her residence. Her mother's red Oldsmobile, which she had borrowed for her trip to the shopping center, was located near the Burger King restaurant in the mall's parking lot shortly afterwards. Her keys, wallet, purse and checkbook were discovered in a marshy, grassy area behind the center several days later.

Investigators don't believe Robin ran away from home. Less than two weeks before she disappeared, she bought candy and presents for her younger siblings for Easter, but disappeared before the holiday.

She dropped out of high school prior to her disappearance to take a job at the Shop-Rite supermarket, but had decided to return to school and planned to eventually enroll in college and become a journalist. Esposito was questioned regarding Robin's case and cleared as a possible suspect early in the investigation.

Authorities announced that Howard J. Gombert Jr. was a suspect in Robin's disappearance after his arrest on sexual assault and child endangerment charges in March 2000. He was taken into custody after sexually assaulting an eight-year-old girl, as well as his own girlfriend, and was later sentenced to 30 years in prison. A photo of Gombert is posted with this case summary.

When the police arrested him in 2000, they found Robin's underwear hidden in a suitcase in his girlfriend's house; they were able to get DNA from the underwear and match it to Robin. When Gombert was asked about the panties, he said he often collected clothes left behind by customers at the laundromat where he worked, and would take them home, sort and clean them, and then donate the clothes to charity.

He had previously resided in Carmel and was the laundromat where he worked was in the shopping center where Robin disappeared, and he knew her and says Robin was his "best friend" and asked him for advice about her relationship with her boyfriend. Gombert stated he had spoken to Robin at 3:00 p.m. the day she disappeared and asked her for advice about his girlfriend, and they talked for a few minutes. In the days after Robin went missing, Gombert attempted suicide and had to be hospitalized.

He has never been charged in connection with her disappearance. He has a prior criminal record in New York and Connecticut and had been charged with first-degree rape in 1991, but the charge was dismissed when the thirteen-year-old alleged victim recanted her story shortly after his arrest.

Robin liked to wear black clothing in 1995; she also enjoyed writing and listening to rock music. Her disappearance remains unsolved. Foul play is suspected in her case.

Updated 5 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated May 20, 2024; three pictures added, details of disappearance updated.