Robin Lynn Farnsworth was born on Sept. 11, 1979. At just 14 years old, she gave birth to her daughter, Samantha, in 1994.
Robin lived in Bald Knob, Arkansas, and attended Bald Knob High School. On Jan. 27, 1995, Robin, 15, left home for school that morning.
“She appeared happy, and nothing was wrong,” said her mother, Kathy, in 2004. But Robin never came home. Four days later, Kathy called the police to report her missing daughter.
Then, on March 8, 1995, a classmate of Robin’s, Kenyatta Haynes, 18, vanished after leaving school at 2:20 p.m. Kenyatta was a cheerleader and popular student at Bald Knob High School. Police were notified when she failed to show up for cheerleading practice.
Two days after Kenyatta disappeared, searchers found her partially-clothed body submerged in a creek in a wooded area near the local country club. The area was known as a lovers lane and party hangout for local teenagers.
Kenyatta had been handcuffed and beaten. Early reports say she had been stabbed multiple times, and authorities stated then that it did not appear she had been raped. Ligature marks surrounded her neck. Rocks were put in her clothing and tied around her waist before her body was placed in the creek.
The day after Kenyatta’s body was found, police arrested James Derrick Grubbs, 17, and Donnie Ray Tempel, 18. Both lived in Bald Knob and attended school with Kenyatta and Robin.
Despite what the local media reported concerning the murder details, Tempel told a slightly different story. He said that Grubbs had picked him up for school on March 8. Although bound and lying on the floor of Grubbs’ truck, Kenyatta was still alive. Tempel said Grubbs had raped her.
Then, Tempel witnessed Grubbs strike Kenyatta with a shovel in the woods, killing her. Grubbs ordered Tempel to help stuff her clothes with rocks to sink her body in the creek.
It’s unclear what prompted Grubbs to commit such a heinous act. He and Kenyatta shared a locker and ate at the same lunch table. The killer teen was headed for college and on the right path to a promising future for himself.
Tempel and Grubbs became friends while working together at the Bald Knob Piggly Wiggly store. Robin’s boyfriend also worked at the store, and he and Grubbs were friends who had searched for Robin together.
Authorities did not initially link the two crimes together. Bald Knob police had labeled Robin’s disappearance a runaway case; she was an “at-risk” teenager who had once run away from home. That was why her mother waited a few days before notifying the authorities. She figured Robin would eventually return.
On April 4, 1995, while awaiting trial, Tempel told a jailer that months earlier before Kenyatta’s death, Grubbs had shown him the badly beaten body of Robin Farnsworth hidden under a pile of newspapers in an old barn near Russell, outside White County.
There, they found a large area with evidence of decomposition in a patch of ground under a cedar tree. They also discovered a purple fingernail, a few finger bones, and buttons from pants in some dirt but did not find a body.
Odom informed Robin’s mother what Tempel had told him, but she insisted her daughter was still alive after reportedly seeing Robin after the boys’ arrests.
Both the police and Bald Knob community reacted differently to Kenyatta’s disappearance because of her family background and status in high school. Her disappearance horrified the community, and dozens of people volunteered to help search for the cheerleader. Yet, no one searched for Robin, and very few people knew of her disappearance.
According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, laws enacted in 1985 for children and 2001 for adults “require law enforcement to enter missing-persons reports into state and national databases immediately,” even if the child left home voluntarily. However, Bald Knob police failed to give Robin’s missing person report to state and federal authorities.
Former White County Sheriff Jess Odom said in 2009 that he asked the Bald Knob police chief in 1995 about Robin’s case possibly being connected to Kenyatta’s. The chief responded that Robin was “just a runaway.” Odom dropped the discussion and refocused his attention on Kenyatta’s murder.
On Dec. 28, 1997, deer hunter Johnny Johnson found human remains in the woods near Russell, 100 yards away from where Tempel said Grubbs disposed of Robin’s body.
“It was a human skull with no jawbone sitting on top of the ground. There was a red sweater with tassels that barely had dirt over it. And you could see some fingernails laying in the dirt that were painted purple,” Johnson told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in 2009. He also clearly remembered seeing a pair of brown penny loafers.
“They were itty-bitty shoes,” he recalled. “A size 4 or 5. I thought it was a kid’s when I found them.”
Someone from the White County Sheriff’s Department told Johnson the remains were likely Robin’s. However, a few days later, he read in a local newspaper that White County detectives were unsure if the remains were animal or human. Investigators later confirmed the remains as human but believed they belonged to another missing girl from another county.
When Odom left office in 2000, the bones remained unidentified in the state crime lab, and Robin’s mother remained unconvinced they were her daughter’s.
In 2004, White County had a new sheriff, Pat Garrett, who succeeded Odom in 2000. At a press conference that year, Garrett claimed the box containing the skeletal remains was shelved and forgotten about until March 2003 when he found them. He immediately sent them to the FBI lab in Quantico, Va., to be tested. Lab technicians told Garrett it could take anywhere from one year to 10 years before receiving results.
Garrett said the FBI lab was backlogged with DNA evidence from the Sept. 11 attacks and the war in Iraq. However, the results returned a few weeks later, and the remains were identified as Robin Farnsworth.
In 2009, Odom countered Garrett’s statement about the remains. He said he immediately had the remains sent to the FBI crime lab when they were found and contacted Robin’s dentist, hoping to identify the remains through dental records. However, Robin’s records did not include X-rays because she was pregnant with Samantha at her last appointment.
The Democrat-Gazette reported in 2009 that “crime lab records indicated that the remains were examined on Dec. 30, 1997 – two days after Johnson discovered them.” A worker at the state’s medical examiner’s office said his records showed that the lab released the remains to White County detective Fred Cheek on March 11, 2003.
Garrett walked back on his 2004 claim and said he had “inaccurate information” when he held the press conference. He further stated he “did not realize Cheek had checked the bones out of the lab and placed them in the evidence room,” the Gazette-Democrat reported.
Grubbs and Tempel were eventually convicted of Kenyatta’s murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole.
However, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2017 that sentencing a person to life in prison with no chance at parole for a crime committed as a minor is cruel and unusual punishment.
Soon after, Arkansas eliminated life without parole for juveniles. Ark. S.B. 294 states that “juveniles convicted of capital murder are subject to a life sentence with the possibility of parole after a minimum of 30 years.”
Grubbs was only 17 at the time of Kenyatta’s murder. In October 2018, a judge resentenced him to life in prison with parole eligibility after 30 years. At the time of the resentencing, he had already served 23 years, so he only had seven years of his sentence remaining.
Tempel was 18, so his original sentence did not change.
Detective Heather Meadows of the White County Sheriff’s Department took over Robin’s case and believes Grubbs and Tempel killed Robin.
Circumstantial evidence links the cases together, but Meadows said the case lacks physical, tangible evidence. Robin’s case has gone cold.
Grubbs remains in prison as of this writing. Since his time there, he has received his GED and completed anger and stress management classes and a substance abuse program.
He has never admitted to killing Robin or shown remorse for killing Kenyatta.
Tempel is currently at Ouachita River Correctional Unit. Since his incarceration, he has committed two major disciplinary violations – sexual activity and failure to obey order. He also has completed stress management courses.
As of 2009, Robin’s mother did not think Grubbs and Tempel killed her daughter and still believed she saw Robin after their arrest.
In May 2021, Bald Knob Mayor Barth Grayson proclaimed May 3 Kenyatta Haynes Day and said it would be annually. The Daily Citizen stated, “Council member Johnny Hodges presented Haynes’ mother, Dorothy Haynes Rogers, with a framed printing plate of a memorial front page of the city’s former newspaper, The Bald Knob Banner. It was dated March 16, 1995. The family also was presented with flowers.”
Furthermore, a $1,000 scholarship in Kenyatta’s name is presented to “a senior at Bald Knob High School accepted into a bachelor’s program in a mental health field.”
Meanwhile, the town seems to have forgotten Robin Farnsworth. Robin’s case is officially unsolved. Anyone with information should call the White County Sheriff’s Department (501) 279-6279.
True Crime Diva’s Thoughts
First, I want to say that early reports say that Kenyatta was stabbed multiple times. Investigators said it did not appear she had been raped. Then along comes Tempel, who said Grubbs raped her and beat her to death with a shovel. After that, there was no further mention in news reports of Kenyatta being stabbed. I find that really strange. Either she was, or she wasn’t. Being stabbed is a far cry from being beaten with a shovel. Why would police tell reporters she had been stabbed and not raped if she had been?
Bald Knob police and White County ought to be ashamed of themselves for how they handled Robin’s case, simply because she had run away ONCE before. When it was clear she was not coming home and another teenage girl ended up dead, they should have taken her disappearance seriously.
Law enforcement had two girls from the same school disappear within two months of one another. Why would you not even attempt to see a connection? How on earth does that thought never cross your mind as a cop? Oh, but Robin was “just a runaway.” SMH.
I only found one newspaper article on Newspapers.com regarding Robin’s disappearance — the 2004 one when Garrett held his press conference. Not one outlet reported on her disappearance again until 2009 that I could find.
I think Grubbs likely killed Robin, and I would wager he raped her too. That was likely the motive. I read that Robin’s brother said he and Robin had known Grubbs since they were kids, yet Grubbs said he “vaguely” knew her. Bald Knob is small and Grubbs worked with Robin’s brother, so it’s obvious he lied about hardly knowing Robin.
Johnson ultimately found Robin’s remains 100 yards away from the barn where Tempel allegedly saw them in 1995. That’s the size of a football field but by no means a long distance. So, obviously, the search did not expand too far beyond the barn. Why not?
Now, Tempel said Robin’s remains were inside the barn, so somebody, likely Grubbs, later moved them.
Robin’s mother seemed pretty convinced she saw Robin after police arrested the boys. However, her belief likely hindered the investigation. If she had seen her missing daughter, why didn’t she approach her? Yell at her? Do something? Where and when did she see her? Was she alone? She doesn’t believe Grubbs and Tempel killed Robin because of the sighting. Who else could have killed her? Who had a motive?
Where is Robin’s father, Terry Farnsworth, in all of this? Well, I will tell you what I do know about him.
I found Farnsworth registered as a level 3 high-risk sex offender who lives in nearby Searcy. He had been convicted on two counts of 1st-degree sexual assault. I could not find the age of his victim(s) or when the crimes occurred. He is not currently in prison.
You know I have to wonder: did he have something to do with his daughter’s death? I don’t believe he did, but you never know.
I found nothing on whether Robin made it to school on Jan. 27, 1995. Did anyone see her or speak with her at school?
Although Kenyatta was found closer to city limits, both girls’ bodies were found in isolated areas. Seeing how Robin was the first victim and found roughly 8 miles from Bald Knob, I have to wonder why Grubbs disposed of Kenyatta’s body so close to town.
But there are differences between both cases. The obvious one is that Robin was white and Kenyatta black. The girls were complete opposites. Robin was the bad seed, so to speak, while Kenyatta was popular, well-liked, and came from a good family. I don’t know much about Robin’s family. Her brother was in prison when she vanished, but I don’t think her parents were together. I have no idea where they lived in Bald Knob either.
And what I find a little strange is that everything revolved around Tempel’s statements to the police. Where is the evidence showing Grubbs killed Kenyatta? Odom announced right after her body was found that he had no suspects, according to one source. So what led them to Grubbs and Tempel?
Killers usually have a type of victim they prefer — blondes vs. brunettes, young girls vs. adult women, for example. If Grubbs also killed Robin, then he really didn’t.
I’m not too fond of the 2017 U.S. Supreme Court ruling eliminating life sentences without parole for juveniles. Grubbs was 17, the legal consent for sex in many states. In Arkansas, it is 16. So, according to law, Grubbs was old enough to have sex but not mature enough to receive a life sentence with no parole. SMH
He was old enough and mature enough to know that what he did was a crime. Grubbs won’t admit killing Robin because that would hurt his chances of walking the streets soon. But I would not be surprised if he reoffended and ended up back there.