Photo of the Day

Robin Doan photographed March 12, 2014, near Palo Duro Canyon. Photo: DARREN BRAUN.

Robin Doan photographed March 12, 2014, near Palo Duro Canyon. Photo: DARREN BRAUN.

 The Girl Who Saw Too Much

Texas family is gunned down in a deadly home invasion — but the shooter unknowingly leaves behind a witness.

In the fall of 2005, a young Missouri man, 23-year-old Levi King, went on a vicious and inexplicable 24-hour killing spree, first shooting an elderly man and his daughter-in-law in the rural community of Pineville, Missouri, then stealing their truck and driving to Texas, where he randomly stopped at a darkened farm house on the outskirts of the small Panhandle town of Pampa.

Dressed completely in black and toting an AK-47, King broke through the back door and immediately went to the master bedroom. He first put three bullets into the body of the home’s owner, 31-year-old Brian Conrad. He next fired two shots into Molly, the family’s dog. Then he turned his gun on Conrad’s 35-year-old pregnant wife, Michell, who was screaming. He shot her five times.

Michell’s ten-year-old daughter from a previous marriage, Robin Doan, was at the end of the hallway, crouched by her bedroom door, which was partially open. She saw King walk out of her mother and stepfather’s bedroom and head her way. She ran back to her bed and pulled the covers over her head. He stepped into her bedroom, aimed his gun at her, and pulled the trigger. The shot went wide, hitting a pillow, but Robin made a grunting noise and fell to the floor, pretending she was dead. King fell for her act. He turned around, walked into a third bedroom, and shot Robin’s fourteen-year-old brother, Zach. King then walked into the kitchen and rummaged around for food before driving away.

Robin remained in her bed for perhaps a couple of hours, listening for a sound, too terrified to move. Finally, as the sun began to come up, she went to the living room, grabbed the family’s cordless phone and ran outside to the driveway, where she called 911. What she said to the dispatcher was absolutely heartbreaking: “Ma’am, there was a shootout in my house. I don’t know who’s alive in my house.” She told the dispatcher her name, adding, “My parents are Michell Conrad and Brian Conrad. My mom is pregnant and my brother is in high school. Please, can you just send somebody out here? I think I’m the only one alive. I’m ten years old and I don’t know what to do. I’m scared. . . I so hope my mom is not dead. I want my mommy. I want my mom.”

After his rampage through the house, King had driven to El Paso, crossed the border into Mexico, and for some reason, decided to return only hours later. He was detained by U.S. Border Patrol officers who found guns in his car. After they fingerprinted him and pulled his file, they saw that he was wanted for questioning about some Missouri shootings. Within a few days, he calmly confessed to the killings in both Missouri and Pampa. He explained that he had gotten angry because his father had kicked him out of the house back in Missouri, and he had decided to go out and shoot people.

When I read the story about the Pampa farmhouse killings, I couldn’t help but think it was the Texas version of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood—except in this case, there was one survivor, a pretty little girl who, when sheriff’s deputies arrived at her home, was still standing in her driveway, wearing purple pajamas decorated with polar bears and white Nike socks with purple rings around the tops. “There were so many shots,” she told one deputy. “I heard my mommy screaming.”

How, I wondered at the time, would that child ever get over the sound of those screams? How would she ever erase the image of Levi King coming toward her? How would she be able to grow up in any normal way after living through such an experience?

Over the years, whenever I saw a newspaper story with a Pampa dateline, I would think about Robin and wonder what had happened to her. I assumed that she had been shuttled off to relatives in a new town, probably a different state, to help her escape the nightmares. Late last year, I happened to see a film version of Capote’s life, and I started thinking about her again. I called Lynn Switzer, the former district attorney in Pampa who had prosecuted King for murder, and I asked if she could put me in touch with Robin, who is now nineteen. “Of course I can,” said Switzer. “She’s still living in Pampa, you know.”

“You’re kidding,” I said.

“No, this is not a girl who wants to run away.”

A few minutes later, she called me back and gave me Robin’s phone number. I dialed the number and a cheerful voice answered, “Hi.”

“I guess you know why I’m calling,” I said, after introducing myself.

“Oh, sure,” replied Robin. “But I want you to know that I’m not going to have great stories for you. I’m just trying to be another teenager, no different than anyone else.”

When we started talking, she said she wasn’t all that interested in talking about “what happened,” as she put it. She did tell me that she moved in with her father, a surveyor, and his new wife, who lived just outside of Pampa, a town of 19,000. (Her father and Robin’s mother had divorced when Robin was a toddler). Whenever he took her somewhere, she hunkered down in his pickup truck so that people wouldn’t stare at her. Everyone knew who she was; the shootings were the biggest thing to have happened to Pampa in decades. “I stayed out of school for a couple of months, and when I went back, other kids didn’t know what to say to me,” she said. “I sort of felt like a freak. But I wasn’t going to cry.”

“Why not?”

“I guess I thought if I acted as if nothing had ever really happened, then I would be better off.”

“Robin was the kind of child who put on a very brave face in front of other people,” said Switzer. “She would say, ‘I can handle this. I’m strong.’ And I’d say, ‘Robin, I know you’re brave, honey, but you’ve been through a cataclysmic event. It’s got to be tearing you up.’ And she’d say, ‘I’m fine. Let’s talk about something else.’”

In middle school, Robin moved in with an aunt who lived in Pampa and had more time to take care of her. Switzer regularly visited with Robin, in part because she needed her to be her star witness at King’s trial. Despite Robin’s insistence that she was “just fine,” Switzer had no idea whether the young girl would be able to handle the trauma of testifying in front of a packed courtroom with Levi King sitting front and center at the defendant’s table. Switzer arranged for Robin to talk to a therapist, which turned out badly. “I told him I didn’t want to talk to anyone, and that I wanted to be left alone,” Robin said.

Switzer brought in another therapist, who, according to Robin, “wanted me to watch cheesy videos and write in a diary. I said, ‘Nope.’” She did like a third therapist whom Switzer found. But Robin always did her best to remain in complete control. “I never wanted to interact too much,” she said.

Robin went through months of therapy, but Switzer had no idea whether any of the therapy made an impact on Robin. “She was still working very hard to remain in complete control,” Switzer said. Just before King’s trial began, in 2009, she let Robin know it would be perfectly okay if she preferred to stay home. “We’ll get a conviction,” she told Robin, who was then fourteen years old. But Robin insisted that she was ready to talk.

After a week of testimony, Switzer called Robin’s name. She came into the courtroom, which was packed with Pampa residents. They leaned forward as she took the stand. No one had any idea what she would say—or if she would say anything at all.

Robin recounted the events of the night of the murder, quickly going through the details. Then Switzer asked her if she missed her mother. Seemingly caught by surprise, Robin said she wished her mother had been around this past year for some of the bigger milestones in her life, including the eighth grade dance and her first day of high school. Suddenly, she turned and stared straight at King and told him she was constantly haunted by her mother’s screams from that night and was still sometimes scared to go to sleep.

Robin began to sob. She walked out of the courtroom and went with Switzer into a small private room, where she continued sobbing. It was the first time since the shootings, Switzer told me, that Robin had “truly let out her grief.”

The specatators in the courtroom assumed that that would be the last they would hear from Robin. Switzer herself had no plans to call Robin back to the courtroom. But Robin told the prosecutor that she had one more thing to say. And so, after King was sentenced to life without parole—one of the twelve jurors refused to vote for the death penalty, which requires a unanimous vote—Robin took the stand to make a victim’s impact statement. She looked at King and told him that she forgave him, and that she hoped when the day came for him to meet God, he would ask for forgiveness too. King kept his head down, unable to look at the teenager.

“I don’t know why I said what I said,” Robin told me when I asked her about the forgiveness statement. “Maybe I just wanted him to know that I wasn’t going to let my life be ruined by him—that I wasn’t going to let him take away the best of me.”

She paused. “I wanted him to know my life was still going to turn out to be good, no matter what awful things he had done to me and my family.”

After the trial, Robin did her best to lead what she described as “a very normal teenage life.” She became a cheerleader at Pampa High School. She briefly played on the girls’ basketball team. During the summer, she worked at the local water amusement park (she once saved a little boy who was drowning). When she graduated from high school in May 2013, a group of police officers and deputies who had worked on the murder case raised $10,000 to pay for her to go to junior college in nearby Borger. (She’s a cheerleader there too.) But she acknowledges that even today, nearly ten years after the murders, everyone in Pampa still wonders if she’s alright. “I can tell how they watch me,” she said. “It’s like a game for them, waiting to see if I am going to mess up and have some breakdown because of what happened to me when I was ten years old. I mean, I once dyed my hair a different color, and the word spread that I was finally going off the deep end. But I’ve kept my head on my shoulders. I was raised better than that.”

“So, how often do you really still think about that night?”

“Well, I try not to think about it,” Robin finally said. “And I still have dreams of being shot at. I still have dreams of doing things with my mom and talking to my brother. I dream about our dog, Molly. And sometimes I lie in bed and ask myself, ‘What could I have done? What could I have done to have kept him from shooting my family?’”

I then asked if her if she ever thinks about “him,” meaning Levi King. “I don’t write him letters, if that’s what you want to know,” she said. “And I don’t waste my time sitting around hoping he rots in hell. What I’m trying to do is let go and move on and do some good.”

Robin Doan, 10, lived with her mother, Michell,who was 6 months pregnant; her stepfather, Brian Conrad, a farmer; and her older brother, Zach. The family was well liked, leaving investigators to wonder what motive might exist. Photo ROBIN DOAN.

Robin Doan, 10, lived with her mother, Michell,who was 6 months pregnant; her stepfather, Brian Conrad, a farmer; and her older brother, Zach. The family was well liked, leaving investigators to wonder what motive might exist. Photo ROBIN DOAN.

A gunman broke into Robin Doan's remote farmhouse in Pampa, Texas, in the middle of the night, killing her family as they lie in their beds. The killer also shot at Robin, but missed, leaving behind a witness.

A gunman broke into Robin Doan’s remote farmhouse in Pampa, Texas, in the middle of the night, killing her family as they lie in their beds. The killer also shot at Robin, but missed, leaving behind a witness.

Orlie McCool and Dawn McCool. A day before Robin Doan's family was killed, the bodies of murder victims Orlie McCool and his daughter- in-law, Dawn, were found 500 miles away in Pineville, Missouri. Photo: MATTHEW MCCOOL.

Orlie McCool and Dawn McCool. A day before Robin Doan’s family was killed, the bodies of murder victims Orlie McCool and his daughter- in-law, Dawn, were found 500 miles away in Pineville, Missouri. Photo: MATTHEW MCCOOL.

THE TEXAS PANHANDLE | SEPTEMBER 30, 2005

Child Advocate: Do you know why you are here today?

Robin Doan (at age 10 ): To talk about what happened this morning…. I have a question. Do I really have to talk about what happened this morning again? Because I’ve told people and told people, and it just crushes me every time I say it … I can’t really talk about that again.

Robin Doan: I was 10 when all this happened. …I was so young and so little.

911 operator: 911. What is your emergency?

Robin Doan [to 911]:: Um. There was a shootout in my house and I don’t know who’s dead. And I’m scared half to death.

911 operator: Is there anybody else in the house with you?

Robin Doan: No, I think I’m the only one alive. I don’t know, but I’m scared. I want my mom.

Robin Doan: I lived with my mother; that’s Michell Conrad. I lived with my stepfather, Brian Conrad, and then my older brother, Zach Doan. … I had a dog named Molly. And my stepdad Brian was a farmer … And then my mom was also six months pregnant.

Robin Doan [to 911]: I so hope my mom is not dead.

Robin Doan: That night I was having a nightmare … and I remember hearing gunshots in my dream, but when I woke up it didn’t end … the gunshots were actually going off in my house. … My mother started screaming. Screaming and screaming and screaming.

I jumped outta my bed and I went and crouched down by my door. …That’s when I had heard footsteps … It was very loud. …he was stomping. …I just remember popping up as fast as I could and just taking two leaps … back into my bed … and just freezing .He fired two rounds off at me. I had one of them graze my left leg and my left arm.

He turned to my brother’s room … and I just remember gunshots going off and my brother moaning

I played dead for two-and-a-half hours. I was like, I can’t just lay here. I need to do something. …And so I just proceeded out the door and started dialing 911.

Robin Doan [to 911]: Please can you just send somebody out here?

911 operator: Somebody’s coming honey, somebody’s coming.

Chad Brooks | Texas State Trooper; Former deputy sheriff and first responder: I just couldn’t get there fast enough.

Robin Doan [to 911]: I’m cold. I’m very cold.

Chad Brooks: I could not get there fast enough

Robin Doan [to 911]: I heard my mama scream …

Chad Brooks: What in the world could’ve taken place and why is she the only one on the phone?

Robin Doan [to 911]: I want my mom. I want my mom.

Robin’s home in Pampa, Texas, is literally in the middle of nowhere. So you can’t help but wonder, why this family? Why this farmhouse? Whoever the shooter was — whatever his reason for gunning down an innocent family in cold blood — he probably didn’t count on one thing: he left behind a witness.

Robin Doan [to 911]: It’s on Highway 70. It’s about 13.3 miles out from the bowling alley. I have a purple shirt on I have purple pants on.

911 operator: OK. They’re coming, they’re coming.

Robin Doan: Thank you.

Robin Doan: It felt so long before they got there. …I just kept looking and looking and looking and hoping to see, you know, someone coming to my rescue.

Robin Doan [to 911]: All I want right now is my blanket and my pillow. … I see him. I see him.

Chad Brooks: I’ll never forget when I turned down the driveway. …This child on a phone about a shooting.

She ran straight to me. I hugged her. As distraught as she was she’s very articulate. Just telling me in absolute detail what was going on and what she heard and everything.

Robin Doan: He told me everything was gonna be OK. They were gonna figure it out.

Chad Brooks: We’re obviously not going into the house with her … I gotta secure her somehow out here in the middle of nowhere. …So I put her in my patrol car and locked it.

Robin Doan: All the cops had their guns drawn and they were goin’ to clear out the house to make sure no one was in there, and to go see who was alive and who was not alive

Gary Henderson |Former Sheriff, Hemphill County: Any crime scene that you go into you know it’s the ultimate who done it.

One comment we made when we first got there is, “This is like the all-American family.” Everything was in place. The coffee was set to come on the next morning. Mom, dad, children, gettin’ ready for the birth of a child.

The east door to the residence had been kicked in and — whoever entered that residence at that time immediately … went to shooting. …Brian had been shot 3 times and Michell had been shot six times. And the dog … had been shot twice.

Robin Doan: I guess I kept playing games with myself in my head “When is my mom gonna walk outta there? When is Brian gonna walk outta there? Where’s Molly?” … I wanted all of my family to walk out of there, OK, just like I did.

Gary Henderson: How that bullet missed Robin, I do not know. …It struck a little drawer next to her bed. Zach had been shot three times laying in his bed. Appears Zach never woke up and Zach never knew what hit him.

Robin Doan: I would never ask the question, “Who’s still alive?” I — I wouldn’t do it. Like, I just — I just wouldn’t do it.

Chad Brooks: The chief deputy looked at me and we looked at each other, he said, “Go be with that little girl and…”

I just wanted to take care of her best I could. …I said, “Is there anything I can do for you Robin?” … And she said, “I wanna feed my animals.” And I said, “I fed animals before. Let’s go feed animals.”

Maybe it’s just pure survival –comin’ from one situation that’s just so traumatic … to a diversion.

Robin Doan: I just remember him helping me feed. I laughed at the amount of alfalfa hay he tried to give my goats. Because he — it was, like, a large amount and I said, “No, no.”

Chad Brooks: She just blew me away. She completely flipped a switch, and was absolutely braggin’ about her … animal got first or second in this. And her brother got first and second with his animal. …once we leave the corrals and that moment’s over, the switch flipped again and it was right back to reality. And she’s immediately back to — cryin’ and cold and she grabbed my forearm.

Robin Doan: Finally, like, I kinda got the courage to just come right out and say, “Mom and Brian aren’t — aren’t gonna walk outta there, are they?” Broke the law enforcement people’s hearts when they had to tell me no, that they weren’t walking outta there; I was the only one that could walk outta there … still alive. …Zach never woke up. …And he never — he never knew what was going on. So I’m thankful that he didn’t have a chance to hurt. I’m really thankful for that.

Right after it all had taken place … I went to my great-grandma’s house. …It was just family after family after friends after people … Everybody was crying. And, you know, people were yelling at the top of their lungs, saying, “What’s going on? What’s going on? What’s going on?” And I couldn’t answer questions because I was just scared.

THE BRIDGE, CHILDREN’S ADVOCACY CENTER | 12 HOURS AFTER THE MURDERS

Robin Doan [advocate interview]: I really don’t want to go to sleep anymore. It makes me to where I’m too scared. I really don’t want to go to sleep. OK.

Advocate: OK.

Robin Doan: I got put in a room with one of the advocates at The Bridge. There was a microphone in the room. And there was a camera in the room.

Robin Doan [advocate interview]: He had shot in my room and missed me.

Advocate: OK.

Robin Doan: And so I had to pretend like I was dead two whole hours…

Robin Doan: Everything was videotaped … to make sure they had it for evidence and stuff like that.

Advocate: Did you hear anybody say anything. Could you hear anybody talking?

Robin Doan: Nobody talked

Robin Doan: They asked me, “What do you remember. Can you describe what he looked like?”

Robin Doan [advocate interview]: I don’t know this for sure but I thought I saw a white eyes … a white face.

Gary Henderson: My question to the other investigators was, “I need to know if she heard shots, and if so, approximately how many shots did she hear.”

Robin Doan [advocate interview]: And when he shot I saw a flash.

Gary Henderson: She never hesitated in her answer of “15 shots.” And through the course of the crime scene investigation, 15 fired rounds were found inside the home. Somethin’ that you’d hope no 10-year-old getting woke up at 3:00 in the morning would have indelibly burned into their memory.

Robin Doan [advocate interview]: I can’t talk about it. It’s too heartbreaking.

Advocate: OK.

Lynn Switzer | Former District Attorney, Gray County: One of the things that our officers were very concerned about was the safety of Robin.

Because you have to remember, at this point, we had no idea who had done this, why it had happened, or where those people might possibly be.

Robin Doan: They put us in … a shelter kinda thing. …It was my biological dad. My stepmom at the time, my stepsister at the time and myself. …you had to be buzzed in. There was cameras all outside of it.

I understood that it was for my own safety … I was not allowed to leave … except to go to the funeral.

Lynn Hancock | Pastor, Briarwood Church: We knew there would be an outpouring of the community at the service and indeed there was.

Everyone loved the Conrads. …They were what we would call in The Panhandle, salt of the earth kind of people. They were real people that we loved and cared about. And they cared about others.

Robin Doan: I just remember sitting there and I would just look at one casket and I’d look at the second casket, and then I would turn and I’d look at the third casket, and I would do it all over again. …It wasn’t fair to sit there and look at that.

Jay Foster |Texas Ranger: I was at the funeral. We did have surveillance set up at the church … just looking for suspicious people.

No leads were developed through the funeral services.

Lynn Hancock: The anxiety and fear among the community went through the roof. People were afraid that there was somebody on the loose that could actually come into their home and do the very same thing. So people were certainly making sure their doors were locked. People who kept guns in their homes were making sure they were close by.

Gary Henderson: We are trying to let the evidence speak to us. We had the shell casings. We have a lot of blood evidence. We found several shoe prints. There were some tire tracks that we located on the property.

Erin Moriarty: What investigators didn’t have was any DNA or fingerprints. They knew it wasn’t a burglary so they had to look for another motive.

Jay Foster: There was one theory that … it was a drug hit that– had got the wrong house. …All of the leads were hitting dead ends.

Gary Henderson: There was no rhyme or reason for why this may have happened. … We all sat around and wondered, “Wow, who did this?”

The Missouri Murders

Chad Brooks | First responder: We had no clue who this was. There was no reason for it … who would do this to this family?

ONE DAY EARLIER | PINEVILLE, MISSOURI

Matthew McCool: I received a call from a family member trying to reach out to my mother, but was unable to do so.

So I called the house and my mother’s cell phone. Didn’t get an answer, but wasn’t alarmed at first.

Around lunchtime that day, I decided to leave work and drive to the house to see if I could find them. …Once I get to the house, a relative is standing outside … And he tells me that my mother and grandfather had been murdered. …My mom was a very loving and caring mother. And was my best friend. …And my grandfather was … always supportive, always there for me.

I had just recently lost my father as well – you definitely feel like you’ve lost everyone in your life .

Michael Hall | McDonald County Sheriff: Orlie McCool and Dawn McCool were the two victims in the house.

A relative … found … Orlie McCool … lying in the floor with blood. …And once I stepped in, I found a bullet casing and saw a shell lying on the floor and saw Ms. McCool downstairs.

Don Ruby |Former McDonald County Deputy Sheriff: The shell casings that were there were of a strange. I believe like a Russian ammunition. …And it wasn’t something you buy at Walmart or somewhere like that. It was a different kind of ammo.

Michael Hall: We were looking at the ammo, the shell casing. And one of the other deputies there that does a lot of the crime scenes … said, “I just took a burglar report from the night before, from — Scott King … just lives down the road.” …Well Mr. King had reported that his son Levi had come into the house while he was gone and broke into his gun safe and stole several guns. …And some of the ammo was the same kind.

Erin Moriarty: Once investigators had recognized those shell casings, they had their suspect: 23-year-old Levi King. Law enforcement knew Levi King well. He had been in prison for burglarizing a neighbor’s house and then burning it down. He was sentenced to 14 years in prison, but served less than three, before he was sent to a halfway house. He disappeared from that halfway house and was on the run just a week before the bodies of the McCools were found.

Mike Hall: So we kind of started …trying to piece stuff together. …One of the family members also said that Orlie and Dawn McCool’s pickup, a Dodge Dakota pickup, was gone. …So it was entered into the computer system nationwide as stolen.

Don Ruby: We had a warrant signed for Levi at, I wanna say, like 11:00 that night. And that warrant was issued in the computer for the nationwide pickup.

Matthew McCool: None of us knew why this had happened. It did feel completely random.

Law enforcement … kept us abreast of the situation. …And they informed us they had identified Levi King as a suspect. …He needed a way to you know, escape the area and so they believe that he had targeted my grandfather’s house as well as the truck for transportation.

THE NEXT DAY | EL PASO, TEXAS

Mike Hall: Levi King was found in the truck … by the border patrol … in El Paso. …He admitted havin’ guns in the back. Well, that drew their attention. …They ran the tags, found out that it was a stolen truck with a possible suspect from a murder inside. …So they detained him there at El Paso P.D. and actually interviewed him.

Erin Moriarty: So El Paso police held, and questioned, Levi King until the Missouri investigators arrived. Just 15 minutes into the interview, Levi King calmly confessed to killing Orlie McCool and his daughter- in-law, Dawn, but he couldn’t fully explain why.

Levi King interrogation: Before I even realized it, I mean, I’d just pointed it at him and fired.

Detective: How many times did you fire?

Levi King: Just once. He spun and fell over.

Detective: You walk back to the door and you see this woman — why? …Explain to me why you shot at her.

Levi King: I was scared. I was, I mean, I didn’t know what was gonna happen to me. You know, I was panicking.

Don Ruby: We get to El Paso P.D., we are met by the detectives that are working the case. …I observed Levi standing there. Knew him, said his name. He knew who I was. We both acknowledged each other. …We loaded him up and the pickup up and headed back towards Missouri.

During a conversation with Levi, he described that even hours later, he could still smell the gunpowder, the sweat, and the blood. Describing it as a feeling that — that was probably better than any drugs he’d ever done.

I wanna say within the next week or two … I had been told by a couple of the detention officers there in the jail that Levi had asked to see me and speak with me. …We got him outta the cell. Took him to the outdoor exercise yard. …And somewhere in that conversation, within the next few minutes — Levi made the statement …”You know there’s four more in Texas?”

“There’s four more in Texas?”

Don Ruby: At a point in time … Levi King says, “You know there’s four more in Texas?” I didn’t know whether to believe him, to not believe him. …He’d been in our jail for approximately two weeks and … nobody was hunting him down. Nobody was questioning him. So I don’t know why he made that statement. …Describing the location he talked about the big cross in Texas. …I knew exactly where he was talking about. There’s only a couple that are that big that stand out like that.

Erin Moriarty: So Don Ruby reached out to investigators near that cross in the Texas Panhandle to see if there were any open homicides. There were — the murder of Robin’s family. It didn’t take long to piece everything together. After killing the McCools and driving 500 miles, Levi King decided it was time to kill again.

Lynn Switzer | Former District Attorney, Gray County: The phone call that we received from the Pineville Sheriff’s Office in Missouri … blew open the case for us.

We find out … that Levi had gone in and killed Orlie and Dawn McCool and taken their vehicle and driven … down through Oklahoma to interstate 40. … At some point in time, Levi decides that he’s gonna exit the interstate … and looks over and sees the farmhouse belonging to the Conrads and pulls in, kills Brian and Michell and Zach, and shoots at Robin, thinking he’s killed Robin.

If there was ever a case where a man deserved to die, it was Levi King.

Erin Moriarty: But first, Levi King would have to face justice in Missouri for the McCool murders. There, he took a plea deal. To avoid execution, he agreed to two consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole. In Texas, he also took a guilty plea, but the D.A. refused to take the death penalty off the table.

Levi King being questioned by El Paso, Texas, investigators. MCDONALD COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE

Levi King being questioned by El Paso, Texas, investigators. MCDONALD COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE

The King home was decorated with ceremonial knives and stocked with guns and ammunition. The King home was decorated with ceremonial knives and stocked with guns and ammunition.Defense Attorney Joe Marr Wilson said, "regardless of whether they had food or not, there -- they had money for ammunition."MCDONALD COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE

The King home was decorated with ceremonial knives and stocked with guns and ammunition. The King home was decorated with ceremonial knives and stocked with guns and ammunition.Defense Attorney Joe Marr Wilson said, “regardless of whether they had food or not, there — they had money for ammunition.”MCDONALD COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE

Spree killer Levi King: About 11 hours after the McCool bodies were found, King was stopped by border patrol in El Paso, Texas. He admitted to having guns in the truck and was interrogated by police. Just 15 minutes into his interrogation, he confessed to killing Orlie and Dawn McCool.

Spree killer Levi King: About 11 hours after the McCool bodies were found, King was stopped by border patrol in El Paso, Texas. He admitted to having guns in the truck and was interrogated by police. Just 15 minutes into his interrogation, he confessed to killing Orlie and Dawn McCool.

FOUR YEARS AFTER THE MURDER OF ROBIN’S FAMILY

Joe Marr Wilson | Defense Attorney: The purpose of this trial was only to see what sentence he was going to get.

It was about whether he was going to be executed or whether he was going to go back to Missouri and spend the rest of his life in prison.

Robin Doan: I was 14, about to turn 15, when the trial was taking place. …I understood that we were in court for the death penalty … You know, I told them, “OK … he did this to my family. So yeah, OK, go for it. ”

Joe Marr Wilson: Always in death penalty cases, what you don’t want the jury to be stuck with is this picture of a person as a killing entity, an evil entity. … The first thing we– had to figure out how to do was to turn Levi from a monster into a human being.

Levi had been bipolar at least since adolescence … at varying times, he had — other diagnosis for depression, for bipolar … with some amount of psychosis. And then … I believe at some points in time a schizophrenia diagnosis.

Erin Moriarty: Levi King was one of seven children. Early on, he showed signs of serious antisocial behaviour: setting fires and killing animals. And drug use in his home was rampant. His father introduced him to hard liquor and marijuana. By his teens, Levi King had moved onto meth and heroin. And the place he called home? You’d have to see it to believe it.

Joe Marr Wilson: The environment in which he grew up in and– the– just the overwhelming poverty and despair …until we went up there and actually walked around in it, you just could not get a feel for it. It was– truly frightening. …The first thing you notice was just filth. …The insulation was just black and melted. …There was one wall that just had this massive display of ceremonial knives and swords. …There was lots of guns and knives and — you know, regardless of whether they had food or not there, they had money for ammunition.

Lynn Switzer: The defense did a very good job to paint Levi as this poor, pathetic, mistreated, sad, little person. …There’s a whole lotta other people out there in this world that have grown up in the same type of environment that Levi did or even worse than Levi did. And they don’t go on killing sprees.

Levi King kills people because he likes the smell of blood. He kills people because he likes that smell of gun smoke. And he doesn’t care.

Robin Doan: I was gonna be sitting in front of a murderer … who had killed my loved ones. And to testify — I didn’t want to. But I knew that I needed to for my family’s sake … I was the only one that got to walk outta that house. They didn’t, and they needed a voice, too.

Gary Henderson: Before she goes in to testify she’s — absolutely scared to death. I just look at her and I said, “Robin, we’ve got your back. Go do what you need to do, tell the truth … and just realize we’re right outside this door. He will never get to you.”

Robin Doan: I tried to avoid looking at Levi King as long as I possibly could. And finally, I couldn’t resist the urge anymore because … I wanted to see who had actually done this. And so I looked at him. And the stare that I got back was the worst feeling of my entire life… He is very cold. He is very blank. And essentially, it just felt like he was staring a hole right through me .

Lynn Switzer: When Robin testified … (is overcome with emotion) I’m sorry.

The hard part about Robin testifying was to see the pain that that precious little girl had to go through and endure. …And then to see her say, “I’ve endured this. But you’re not taking my life away from me. I am not giving you that kind of control.”

Robin Doan: I don’t wanna live with the fact of being bitter and being angry all the time for what had happened. …I did forgive Levi King, because me forgiving Levi King … it was my sense of peace. And it was my sense of, “This is how I was raised, and this is my family coming out.”

Gary Henderson: We present the evidence. The defense has their time to present their case and you know, we ask 12 people to make a very, very difficult decision … to either take or not take a man’s life.

Levis Fate Decided

Gary Henderson: You ask the question why? …And that’s the question that sometimes haunts you forever. Why. Why this family. Why this day. Why this town. …We may never know.

Lynn Switzer | Former District Attorney, Gray County: Probably the hardest part for people to deal with on these types of crimes, the randomness of it, the lack of motive, is to understand that there truly are people out there who are just plain evil. Levi King is one of those people. …I’m asking 12 people to sentence this man to death.

Joe Marr Wilson: This was a horrible crime. …And we knew we had to be honest with the jury. …We tried to get to ’em say, “Look he will never walk as a free man, ever …That is punishment and he will never harm anyone else again.”

Lynn Switzer: For years, I lived and breathed this case. …And despite your best efforts, you don’t always get it right.

The jury deliberated for approximately seven to eight hours. And they came back and said that they wanted to give him life without parole. …One of them wanted to give him life without parole. The rest of them wanted him to have the death penalty.

Joe Marr Wilson: I credit that with giving the eventual one hold out enough strength to hold out. …I don’t think we ever believed we’d get a life verdict. I thought the best we would get would be a hung jury.

Robin Doan: And just the look on Lynn’s face that almost looked like — that she had failed us. But she really didn’t. …Lynn Switzer fought for– my family. And that’s something that I will never be able to thank her enough. And all the law enforcement that was involved and sat on the stand. …Either way, ultimately I had still won and my family had still won.

And Levi King … would be extradited back to Missouri to serve that sentence. So I was fine with him being in Missouri because Texas is my state. …I don’t want you back in my state. You’ve already done your damage here.

Pampa’s home. It’s where my mom and Brian and my dad all raised me. So, to leave, I felt like I was being a coward and I was running from my problems and running from what happened. …It’s not saying that I wanna stay there forever cause I don’t.

Lynn Switzer: Robin tries very hard to not be a victim. …But occasionally, I see glimpses of that scared little girl in Robin.

Robin Doan: The fear is still there and it’s still very real. I really hate being alone because I feel like that’s when my mind wanders the most and I think the worst thoughts of, “What if I could have done this?” or “What if I coulda done that? …Should I have gone and woke up Zach?

Denise Mackie | Robin’s friend and former coach: I think it impacts her every day.

Robin has to deal with nightmares still. She has to deal with … repetitive memory of what happened to her. …She told me all the time she remembered her mom screaming. …There were times where she’d text me at night and say, “You know, I hear things going on.” And she was very, very scared whenever noises would happen…And just because she doesn’t show it on the outside, I think that she obviously has to deal with it on the inside.

Robin Doan: I am very superstitious, I guess. The day that everything happened, I had on socks. And I had on long sleeves and long pants. I will not sleep in long sleeves, long pants, or socks now. I will not sleep with my door open because I feel like there’s a figure of a person standing in my doorway.

I’m scared of the dark. …When I walk into the house and I know that I’m there by myself, I will go through every single nook and cranny in the house to make sure that there is no one in there.

The dates that are really hard are birthdays. …Zach’s birthday, mom’s birthday, Brian’s birthday. …Even my birthday is hard because I don’t like celebrating it without them. …I just have those days where I want my mommy, or want my stepdad, or want my brother, and want things to go back to being normal and you just can’t help but burst out into tears.

Erin Moriarty: Robin is now 21 years old. She’s lived off and on with her biological father and an aunt, and now lives with friends. No place has felt like home since the day Levi King walked into her life. Robin briefly tried counseling, but she didn’t find it helpful.

Robin Doan: I felt I didn’t need to talk to someone. If I wanted to talk to someone, I’ll talk to my family. Or put a law enforcement in front of me, I’ll talk to you. But a psychiatrist? No, thanks …I don’t need someone to pat me on the back and tell ’em — you know, ask me, “Well, how do you feel?” I don’t need that. …I don’t expect you to pity me. And I don’t want you to because that’s not how I am. I want to be just like everybody else.

Erin Moriarty: So how does Robin move past the memories of that horrible day? There’s a group of people determined to help her — maybe the only people who really understand what she’s been through.

Chad Brooks and Robin Doan. Robin Doan, remains in close contact with what she calls her law enforcement family, especially Chad Brooks, the first responder the day of the murders. Photo: ROBIN DOAN

Chad Brooks and Robin Doan. Robin Doan, remains in close contact with what she calls her law enforcement family, especially Chad Brooks, the first responder the day of the murders. Photo: ROBIN DOAN

Robins Support System

Jay Foster | Texas Ranger: The heroic things that Robin did to survive that day and to survive that incident will always stick in my mind.

Gary Henderson | Former Sheriff: When that investigation was through, we weren’t through. ..The law enforcement community surrounded Robin.

We wanted to give her a mechanism of people that she could go to if she had questions. If she had issues. If she just wanted to talk. …everybody in the law enforcement field got together and raised funds to start a scholarship program for her. …I’m thrilled to death every time that phone rings and I see Robin’s name on it. …It’s always with a sense of joy because she has a special place in my heart. And she always will.

Lynn Switzer: They treated her like their little sister. …They just have big hearts — they carry big guns, but they have big hearts. …When you go through things as traumatic as this experience was you have a bond. And I connected with her.

Chad Brooks | Texas State Trooper; Former deputy sheriff and first responder: We did keep in contact, and later on, when she turned 16, Robin, invited me … to her birthday party. …you know, I revisit that place and I’ve always had this hesitation — Is seeing me a happy day or a tragic day?

Robin Doan: I have had a really good relationship with Chad. …When I hug him every time I see him, it’s that same hug I got the day that he came and he was the first one to me. And it’s just the most heartwarming — it’s, like, a safe place.

I don’t let what happened keep me down. … No, sorry. That’s not me. That’ll never be me.

I played basketball. I played volleyball. I played softball. Ran track. …I was a cheerleader. … I like being a leader.

Denise Mackie: We have had a lot of moments, Robin and I, that — we have been together.

For prom, she came and got ready at my house. …I was, of course, there for her graduation. …Just things that I know that she’s gonna need a mom for. She says that her mom won’t be there for her wedding. And I just wanna be there for her.

Robin Doan: I call Denise my adopted mom … I looked to Denise for everything — whether it be homework, a new boyfriend. “Oh, my gosh, I don’t know what to wear today to school.” Every little thing to every major thing — that’s when I look to Denise.

Denise Mackie: She has this positive outlook on life. …She has one of the most caring hearts that anyone could ever see. …And I believe that Robin needs to be in a field with caring and helping people.

Gary Henderson: I made the statement many times back then and I still make it today that I hope the good Lord keeps me around long enough to see why he kept Robin Doan on this earth, ’cause it’s gotta be an incredible, special reason. And I hope I get to witness that.

Robin Doan: I could honestly not tell you why I was left; why I was the only one that survived. I couldn’t tell you … whether it be I’m able to tell people that there’s nothing that you can’t get through … maybe if I get married one day and have kids, if it’s to help my kids get through life or help other people in the world. I don’t know. I don’t know what my purpose is. But it’s gonna be great when it comes.

Robin Doan is now working towards a career in law enforcement.

Erin Moriarty / Skip Hollandsworth

Robin Doan tells how she played dead for hours after AK-47 gunman …

Only survivor in Pampa slaying tells story in court | Amarillo.com …

A Survivor Lives to Tell – Surviving a Texas shootout – Pictures – CBS …

Family of Levi King victims speaks out after verdict – KCBD.com

UPDATED: Missouri Killer Pleads Guilty To Killing Texas Family: – The …

’48 Hours: Live to Tell: Sole Survivor,’ TV review – NY Daily News

 


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