Originally written Spring 2009
“Des Moines police: Babysitter flees as thief hides”
The Des Moines Register covered the Tuesday, March 31, 2009, arrest of a man who reportedly stole a car from a woman in Des Moines, fled from police, and hid inside a building. Once arrested, he was found to have cocaine hidden in his sock. He is charged with second-degree theft, second-degree burglary, possession with intent to deliver illegal drugs, and eluding police. He is being held on $66,000 bond.
According to police, Conall Robinson, 38, of Minneapolis, stole a car belonging to Christine Taggart, 37, of Des Moines. Robinson drove the car away, and police pursued him. Robinson then ran inside a building to hide, where Virginia McMillian was babysitting. Police said McMillian ran out of the apartment and told officers where Robinson could be located. Once he had been arrested, the officers said they found “individually wrapped pieces of crack cocaine” in Robinson’s sock. The police took Taggart to the scene of the arrest, where she identified Robinson as the person who took her car. She then drove the car home.
After reading this story, I have several questions involving Robinson, Taggart, and McMillian that were left unanswered by the reporter that covered this arrest. I want to know more about Robinson’s past encounters with the law, as well as why he was even in Des Moines considering he’s from Minnesota. I want to know more information about the alleged car theft, and definitely more information about the site of the arrest and the babysitter.
First of all, Robinson could have past run-ins with the law, considering he not only stole a vehicle, but he also ran from the police and hid in a building. He also had cocaine on his person. From my perspective, this is probably not his first arrest. I did a trial courts search in both Minnesota and Iowa using the name “Conall Robinson.” In Minnesota, the names that resulted from the search were “Cornell Robinson” who was born in December 1970—which fits the age the news story provides for Robinson, even though the first name is different. It could be the same Robinson for whom I was looking. The crimes of Cornell Robinson occurred between 1991 and 2006, and they involved cocaine, theft, burglary, disorderly conduct, drug paraphernalia, fleeing a police officer, weaponry without a permit, crack cocaine, violation of a restraining order, theft from a person, impersonating an officer, theft of a vehicle, kidnapping, assault, robbery, marijuana, driving after revocation, and loitering with intent to sell. There are 22 cases for Robinson. I’m not sure if this is the same Robinson, but these crimes seem to fit. In Iowa, according to Iowa Courts Online, my search resulted in four cases: three were for Cornell Robinson, and one was for Conall Robinson. Two of these cases involved the city of Des Moines. An important bit of information that I found is that the birthdays for Conall and Cornell Robinson are the same, which provides evidence for me that the two names are for the same person.
If this is the case, the charges in Robinson’s cases are pretty damning. I want to know why this man is out in public, especially in Iowa. I cannot view all of the details of his cases so I do not know all of his punishments, but surely there is something that could prohibit him from being in Iowa? He seems to be a repeat offender for a few of his past arrests, especially theft and cocaine—is he in Des Moines for a drug sale? Why is he in Iowa? Shouldn’t there be more information said about him in the news story? This isn’t his first arrest; this would be about his 27th or so. What’s going to happen to him? The Des Moines Register doesn’t say—they simply state that he is being held in jail on $66,000 bond (which I thought was high before I read his previous criminal history). Will there be a trial? Could he go to jail? What’s the deal? The story doesn’t tell me.
The story also doesn’t tell me much information about the cocaine that was found on him. It seems strange to me that a man kept it in his sock after the whole business of allegedly stealing a car, running from the police, and then hiding in a building. Why didn’t he throw it out so as not to receive another charge against him? I understand that it’s potential money but if he’s about to be arrested anyway, shouldn’t he have hidden it or something prior to being arrested? And how did the police find it anyway? Did Robison walk with a limp or something due to the crack cocaine, so they checked his feet? Which foot was it on? How much crack was stuffed in his sock and how big was it? What made the officers notice the cocaine? The news story doesn’t say anything about it.
I also want to know more about how he allegedly stole Taggart’s car. How did he steal it? Was the car locked or unlocked? Did Robinson break a window? Was a window rolled down? Did he somehow have the keys? The story doesn’t have an interview with Taggart or Robinson to straighten this out. Why did Robinson steal it in the first place? He is in Iowa from Minnesota, so I’m assuming he had some access to transportation. Did anybody ask Robinson why he took the car? Was it just something to do because he could easily get in the car, or did he just really want it for a disguise while selling drugs? We don’t know. Did he damage the car? The story says Taggart drove her car home from the scene of the crime, so it couldn’t have been too damaged. Was the car examined first or anything? Perhaps Robinson had cocaine in both socks and some fell out of his other sock and it’s in the car? I need more information.
I also did a trial court search on Iowa Courts Online for Taggart just to see if there was anything interesting; there were seven results for a Virginia Taggart that was born in October 1961—which fits the age provided by the news story. I could only read a little about the cases, some information for them wasn’t provided, but she did have a ticket for using a vehicle without registration. This doesn’t tell me too much about Taggart but it does tell me that this isn’t the first case involving her car.
Finally, I want to know more information about McMillian, the babysitter. In the news story it says that she was babysitting and “ran” out to police to tell them where Robinson was hiding. I want to know how old she is. In an attempt to find her age, I did another Iowa Courts Online search for Virginia McMillian. The birth year is 1961, so if this is the same McMillian, she is about 48. I want to know if she really “ran” outside, or was she slower, and more careful? And when she “ran” outside, did she take the child(ren) with her or did she leave the child(ren) in the apartment? Who was she babysitting anyway? Where they young children? Is she related to them? How many were there? Did she see Robinson or hear him? Did he know she saw him? Did he break into the apartment she was in? I want more specifics so that I can find out more about her.
One person that commented on this story online said that McMillian must be a hero if she took the kids out with her and saved them. Was she more heroic than the story leads readers to believe? Finally, I looked into her cases which totaled 36, though some were for her children who were juveniles at the time, but most were cases against her: prostitution in 1993, driving without a license or permit more than 6 times, an issue involving a rental property, 5th degree “criminal mischief,” a violation of financial liability coverage, and more that I didn’t read due to the length of her record. So, basically, I want to know who let her babysit the kids—Is McMillian fit, rather, to do so? She has a lot of issues with driving legally, obeying traffic signs and whatnot, so is she driving these kids around? I suppose not all these questions are needed since she isn’t the main person in this story, but her records do make me question her babysitting job.
Along with this, I find the headline—“Des Moines police: Babysitter flees as thief hides”—misleading. It says to me that either the babysitter is the main person in the story or that the babysitter seemed afraid and fled. It doesn’t say she ran out to tell the officers about Robinson’s whereabouts. A better headline is needed. Also, I’m not sure the photo of the African-American Robinson is necessary.
It seems to me that this story is a skeleton of what the real story should be. It has the backbones but nothing else. The extra information the Des Moines Register left out is necessary to fill the whole body of the story.