A year later, no evidence. but this father hopes to find his missing son.

  • Daniel Robinson was last seen in Buckeye, Arizona in June 2021.
  • His father, David, was on the ground looking for him ever since.
  • David told Insider about the emotional and financial hurdles that come with searching for a missing loved one.

David Robinson has one goal – to find Daniel.

“My son is my mission,” the Army retiree told Insider. “We learned in the military that you never leave a fallen comrade.”

“My boyfriend is my son and I’m not leaving him behind,” he added.

Daniel Robinson, a 24-year-old field geologist, was last seen on June 23, 2021, leaving his job near Sun Valley Parkway and Cactus Road — 50 miles southwest of Phoenix — driving a blue 2017 Jeep Renegade. He was testing groundwater in a location in an isolated desert area.

After getting word that his son had been reported missing, David quickly drove just over 2,000 miles from his home in South Carolina to Arizona.

“One of the things is I try to stay focused on my son, I took those skills from the military and applied them here, and it helps me stay strong,” he told Insider in a phone interview.

David has also hired his own private investigator, recruited volunteers and set up a website to help conduct research in the vast expanses of the hot desert. He also continues to distribute flyers across the country in a widespread effort to find and hopefully reunite with his son.

He was able to execute it, he said, despite a lack of initiative from law enforcement and his limited resources.

“My daily life is constantly trying to find a way to find my son, constantly trying to find a way to get the police more involved,” David said. “Just different things – how to keep awareness, and also, I felt passionate about other families out there and how to help them.”

Have you seen Daniel?

When David first moved to Phoenix, Arizona, he realized that the cost of living and the equipment needed to conduct his prospecting operations were expensive.

He started a GoFundMe, which he said helped ease the financial burden during his trip.

To date, the fundraiser has raised just over $300,000.

Daniel Robinson is described as 5'8 and approximately 150 pounds.  He has dark brown eyes, black hair and was born without a right arm.

Daniel Robinson is described as 5’8 and approximately 150 pounds. He has dark brown eyes, black hair and was born without a right arm.

Courtesy of David Robinson

But his social media channels, podcast and website dedicated to Daniel have been some of the most useful tools. The tips helped him learn about the town and gather volunteers to sweep the area near where Daniel went missing.

David said he spent 40 weeks alone – almost every weekend – combing the desert using many of the leads he’s received.

He said the volunteer group also conducted surveys — with a detailed safety document before entering the sometimes rough terrain.

Volunteers are told to take a photo and upload it to his website if they see anything suspicious.

“There’s a link there, they can click and raise their camera, take a picture, and when they do that, we get a GPS coordinate and it goes straight to the Buckeye Police Department,” he explained. “It goes to me and my investigator. ».

He added, “These are the ways we’ve been able to engage people as well as take the information of whatever we’ve learned there to the proper authorities.”

At first everything happened quickly. David received a number of guides from the general public who even took him to different towns when people reported possible sightings.

His private investigator, Jeff McGrath, told Rolling Stone last year that they discovered several human remains that were not Daniel’s. David also said the search for Daniel in the desert led to the recovery of “about five or six human remains in the areas we searched” that belonged to other missing persons, Insider previously reported.

A strained relationship with the Buckeye Police Department

Daniel Robinson's missing person poster.

Daniel Robinson has been missing since June 23.

Buckeye Police Department

David said his relationship with the Buckeye Police Department soured almost from the start.

For example, Daniel’s Jeep was found in a ravine by police with his keys, wallet and other valuables still inside on July 19 — more than a month after he disappeared. Police, at the time, said there was no indication of foul play.

David, who was alerted to the find a day later, previously told Insider that police suggested his son “stripped himself completely and left naked in the desert to become a monk and go to a monastery.” This prompted him to hire a private investigator, opting for a second opinion.

A Buckeye Police spokesperson told Insider that the department will “continue to investigate every lead and the case is active.”

“Over the past few weeks, investigators followed up on new tips from the public, investigated a reported sighting, and analyzed additional data from Daniel’s phone to verify his activities and movements leading up to his disappearance,” the statement to Insider said. . “Buckeye police are providing regular updates to the Robinson family as we work to locate their loved one.”

According to Buckeye Police’s investigation timeline, the department said it conducted both aerial and ground searches and continues to speak with potential witnesses.

Although — from David’s perspective — there are frustrations with Buckeye PD’s efforts, he said he is building a relationship with other law enforcement agencies.

“I have worked very hard on the ground to secure meetings,” he said. “I have some forward movement from other departments and agencies that are just starting to do some things for me.”

Throughout his journey, David has grown passionate about helping other families in a similar situation to him.

He recently organized a “Day of Remembrance” at the Arizona State Capitol earlier this month, which helped bring families of missing loved ones together and gave them a voice to tell their story.

“No one is going to miss you except your families”

Daniel Robinson with his mother and grandmother

Daniel Robinson with his mother and grandmother

David Robinson

For many families of missing loved ones, especially those of color, it is more difficult for them to receive the same amount of resources and support to help with their search.

And the painful reality of missing Black people has worsened in recent years. Black people make up nearly 40% of the reported missing, but only 13% of the population, according to recent figures.

They also don’t focus on media coverage compared to their counterparts. For David, his son’s story began to gain traction amid the Gabby Petito case, which made national headlines last year. He said it took him three months since his son went missing to get attention from the local news.

Daniel Robinson is described as 5'8 and approximately 150 pounds.  He has dark brown eyes, black hair and was born without a right arm.

Daniel Robinson is described as 5’8 and approximately 150 pounds. He has dark brown eyes, black hair and was born without a right arm.

Courtesy of David Robinson

“It’s really sad that law enforcement and the media take some cases less seriously than others,” Natalie Wilson, co-founder of the Black and Missing Foundation Inc., told Insider. “The perception is that when you’re black and brown and you disappear, nobody’s going to miss you except your families.”

But during times when the cameras stop rolling and the news interviews stop, David said he will continue to use social media and his podcast to his advantage.

He has yet to mourn his son’s disappearance as he is on the front lines working to get answers. The father of five relies on his faith to stay stoic about himself and his family, although he admits it was emotionally taxing.

“Sometimes people ask me why I’m the one on the ground, and I tell them that everyone handles pain differently,” he said. “I can give some updates to the family, some encouragement and things like that. They encourage me, and I encourage them as well.”

She continued, “I believe that somehow, God will bless that my son will come home to his family, come back to us. I always try to keep hope alive with that.”

Anyone with information about Daniel Robinson is encouraged to call or text (844) 602-0660 with tips. You can be anonymous. You can also contact the Buckeye Police Department tip line at 623-349-6411 or visit www.pleasehelpfinddaniel.com.

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