June 10th, 2016

Forensic Files: the Robards case

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve taken to watching the TV program “Forensic Files,” often as background while I’m writing or reading online. I used to use cable news stations for that purpose, but no more. I haven’t watched a single cable news program since many months ago, some time in February I believe. The constant Trump coverage turned me off.

“Forensic Files” may seem an odd escape. But escape it is, at least for me. It’s grim, very grim. Most of the time it exposes the heart of darkness in a sizeable proportion of human beings—those who kill, for pleasure or money or revenge or sex or who-knows-why. Many are sociopaths; I would say “most,” having watched many episodes of the program. Some are not. The “heartwarming” aspects of the stories, however (and there are some) concern the hard and painstaking work of the detectives and forensic specialists dedicated to the task of bringing the perpetrators to justice.

Most of the stories are far more amazing than those told on the series’ fictional counterpart, the CSI group of TV shows. They are quite short, as well (typically, 21-22 minutes). And they have the added advantage (to me, anyway) of being true.

Here’s one that I find especially fascinating, perhaps because of the literary angle:

So, was she a sociopath? Before you answer that question, you might want to read this article, which contains some background information that the TV show lacked.

[NOTE: Here’s a previous post I wrote on a related topic.]

13 Responses to “Forensic Files: the Robards case”

  1. Yancey Ward Says:

    A sociopath? No, I don’t think so. The reason I don’t think so is that there were clear indications of regret. A sociopath would likely have gotten away with it.

  2. NeoConScum Says:

    YES…!!! I’m all-in with you on Forensic Files, Neo. I’m a nearly lifelong student of human evil. And, a cheerleader when the savages are put away forever or (Far, FAR too Rarely) put to death. The dogged, patient, relentless forensic science types who help so much these days in nailing them and the cops & prosecutors who sometimes don’t give up even for decades. I slso thoroughly enjoy Cold Case Files and Dateline ID.

  3. Philip Says:

    Since I’m in chemistry myself, this naturally held my interest. Now I won’t describe that particular model of GC-MS as my best friend – we really didn’t hang out much together – but it was amusing to see that familiar ‘face’ turn up in a show.

    I will say that I suspect the identity of the poison used, and I have a notion of which instrument would have been better suited to detect it. But just as the producers wisely declined to name the substance in question in order to avoid giving anyone ideas… mum’s the word.

  4. Philip Says:

    Whoops. The linked article indicates I guessed wrongly about the poison. Drat. Can’t win for losing these days. But I was at least correct about the instrument to use.

  5. Ira Says:


    After only 7 years, she was let out of prison. From

    Marie Roberts now-today

    Marie Robards was released in 2003. According to public records she is married and goes by a new identity.

  6. Big Maq Says:

    Wonder what schools now do with their chemicals.

    Seems like the controls at that time for managing access were a bit too loose.

    @Yancey – “regret” is not a sufficient basis for disqualifying her as a sociopath. Read this for a difference between sociopath vs psychopath (which you seem to be conflating, if I understand it correctly) …

    I’d say she is a sociopath at some level. For being such a “smart” child, it was an awfully flimsy reason for a well planned murder. So, certainly there was an extreme imbalance in her judgement that seems implausible to attribute merely to “teenage hormones” in action.

    IDK if one can be “cured” of sociopathy. How much observation is sufficient to tell if they are? IDK if seven years of “good behavior” and analysis is, but that is all she had to do for this crime, it seems.

    Her husband is taking a HUGE gamble, IMHO.

    Interesting. Frequently watch “Forensic Files” and similar shows too.

  7. Bob_CA Says:

    This case is an example of the damage done to our society by the devaluing of marriage. From reading between the lines of the article, it seems that Marie’s mother met someone she preferred while her husband was out of the country on active duty so she dumped him. The article says her new husband was ‘just her friend’ while she was married. Yeah right.

    The mother then manufactures a story about how husband being mentally unstable to justify her actions. She further poisons (pun intended) the girl’s mind about her father as is common in divorces.

    This whole case is a bad scene. Marie clearly is a sociopath. Husband 2 also comes off as a weirdo. It is an example of the pathology in white America documented in Charles Murray’s book “Coming Apart.”

    I think Dennis Prager has a good take on the problem in his article, A Note to Conservatives Who Are Secular
    “The vast majority of leading conservative writers, just like their liberal colleagues, have a secular outlook on life. With few exceptions, the conservative political and intellectual worlds are oblivious to the consequences of secularism. They are unaware of the disaster that godlessness in the West has led to.”

    I suspect our hostess could be counted among the secularists but I may be wrong. What say you Neo?

  8. neo-neocon Says:


    I have an outlook on religion somewhat similar to that of the Founding Fathers, which I would not call “secular.” So the answer is “you are wrong.”

  9. Doody Says:

    It was Beth that gave me chills. Discarding her child when inconvenient? In such cruel ways: choosing her philandering husband, backing him when his rule said a child could not return home once they left, ignoring her pleas, chalking up suicide threats as teenage drama, waiting until the last minute to tell her they were going to be together in Florida thereby robbing her of hope for the future??? How can a mother, supposedly so close to her child, be oblivious to her state of mind? Hope for the future would have prevented it. Not to minimize what the child did . . . but surely that mother was a contributing factor.

  10. neo-neocon Says:


    I agree that the insensitive and actually quite cruel mother set up the situation. But of course, that sort of behavior is unfortunately all too common, and does not usually result in murder. It was the daughter who made the decision to murder. She felt stressed, pressed, and desperate, but most people realize murder is not an appropriate solution.

    It is a very very sad and terrible story.

  11. Big Maq Says:

    “With few exceptions, the conservative political and intellectual worlds are oblivious to the consequences of secularism. They are unaware of the disaster that godlessness in the West has led to.” – Dennis Prager

    There is a short step from this thought to the thought that only people who are Christian can be “good”.

    A good many “godly” Christians are leftists as well. I doubt they’d accept the argument that they are somehow not Christian.

    It seems that it is a case of mistaking correlation for causation. Yes, a good many on the left are “secular”, but that does not mean it is necessarily the cause nor the defining demarcation of our differences in values/morals/principles/priorities/etc.

    I understand Prager’s niche and why he raises it in this way, but it is not far from creating a hurdle for the conservative movement’s appeal beyond the minority of active Christians we have in this country.

  12. Chris Says:

    Big Maq-

    I don’t think that there is anything in what Preger writes that would lead to your conclusion that “there is a short step from this thought to the thought that only people who are Christian can be ‘good’”. In fact, Preger himself is not a Christian and doesn’t refer to Christians specifically in the article.

    The founding fathers believed that a sense of morality generally based a Judeo-Christian belief system was necessary for the success of the nation. John Adams believed that “we have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion … our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” Other founding fathers have expressed similar ideas in many of their own writings as well. I don’t think that you have to be a Christian, or even religious to see that our country has benefited from their beliefs.

    Preger probably goes too far when he says that a “Judeo-Christian-free America means the end of America” but I don’t think that he’s creating a hurdle for the conservative movement’s appeal beyond the minority of Christians in the country. He’s just making observations and stating an opinion.

  13. Big Maq Says:

    Perhaps Christian was narrowing it down too much.

    While Prager is Jewish, no doubt he is speaking also to a Chrisitian audience (probably majority of his audience).

    I doubt his use of “godly” is a reference to Muslim, Hindu, Buddhism, etc. faiths.

    Still, if he were also addressing the Jewish, there are a good many “godly” ones who are leftist too.

    It seems you hit on my point about the short step when you see that Prager goes too far with “Judeo-Christian-free America means the end of America” – tantamount to saying only Judeo-Christian godly believers can be good in its implication.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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