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Harvey Miguel ROBINSON





Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Rape
Number of victims: 3
Date of murders: 1992 - 1993
Date of arrest: July 31, 1993 (wounded by police)
Date of birth: December 6, 1974
Victims profile: Joan Burghardt, 29 / Charlotte Schmoyer, 15 / Jessica Jean Fortney, 47
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: Allentown, Pennsylvania, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on November 10, 1994
photo gallery

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania

opinion J-36-2003

Harvey Miguel Robinson is a prisoner on death row in Pennyslvania. He is thought to be one of the youngest serial killers in history. He is also the first serial killer in the history of Allentown, Pennsylvania. Robinson was only 19 yrs. old when he was arrested.

He raped & killed 3 women who are:

Joan Burghardt, a 29-year-old nurse's aide (August 1992)

Charlotte Schmoyer, a 15-year-old newspaper carrier (June 1993)

Jessica Jean Fortney, a 47-year-old grandmother (July 1993)

His fourth victim, a woman named Denise Sam-Cali was raped and beaten but escaped alive. Robinson returned to Denise's house and a waiting police officer exchanged gunfire with him. Robinson was tracked to a local hospital where he was arrested.

Right now, Robinson's death sentence has been stayed. (as of April 2006).


Harvey Miguel Robinson is thought to be one of the youngest serial killers in history.

Joan Burghardt, a 29-year-old nurse's aide, was Robinson's first victim. She was raped and bludgeoned in her east Allentown home in August 1992.

In June 1993, Robinson abducted, raped and stabbed 15-year-old newspaper carrier Charlotte Schmoyer. One of Charlotte's regular newspaper customers noticed Charlotte's cart outside her front window, but when she saw no signs of the girl, she called the offices of the Morning Call. Charlotte's supervisors could not locate her, and they contacted the police. That same afternoon, Charlotte's body was found in a heavily wooded area nearby. Charlotte had been raped and stabbed over 20 times.

The next month, Robinson raped and strangled 47-year-old grandmother Jessica Jean Fortney. Another victim, Denise Sam-Cali, who was beaten and raped in her home shortly after Schmoyer's killing, escaped alive. Robinson repeatedly returned to her house.

On July 31, a police officer who was waiting for Denise's attacker exchanged gunfire with Robinson. Robinson was tracked to a local hospital, where he had sought treatment for injuries.

Linked to the three killings by DNA evidence, Robinson was convicted in November 1994 and sentenced to death in all three cases. Just 19 at the time, he was thought to be one of the youngest serial killers in the nation's history.

In June 2001, Lehigh County Judge Edward Reibman upheld Robinson's murder convictions but threw out the death sentences in the Burghardt and Schmoyer killings, saying the trial judge had given improper sentencing instructions to the jury.

In December 2004, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court affirmed the death sentence in the Fortney case and the first-degree murder convictions in the other cases, which are now back in Lehigh County Court.

Gladys Burghardt says she can no longer afford to dwell on the murderous specter of the man who killed her daughter. ''I'm 83 now and it's not beneficial to my health, or my husband's health, to dwell on it. We only have a short time left, and we need to make the most of it.''

When Gladys and her husband, Stanley heard that Governor Ed Rendell had set an execution date for Robinson of April 4, Gladys said, ''This is something that's been waiting to happen, that this monster is put out of the world.''

However, the setting of the execution date is simply a formality and will lead to a stay while the next phase of appeals is carried out. ''I wish they would get it over with,'' said Gladys Burghardt, who is baffled by the notion that the killer has been able to escape execution this long. ''What good is the legal system if it doesn't carry out its threats?'' she said. ''How can someone like Harvey Robinson control the legal system?''

Denise Sam-Cali, who owns a Lehigh Valley transportation company, said she spends little time thinking about Robinson. ''We move on,'' she said. ''He's useless to society, so if they do put him to death, there's no loss.''


Death penalty upheld for Allentown serial killer

January 3, 2005

Lehigh County's district attorney said Monday that he will seek two additional death penalties for a serial killer who terrorized Allentown in the early 1990s, now that the state's highest court has upheld the death sentence in one of the three slayings.

"These were horrific killings, and I just thought the death penalty was appropriate under the circumstances," District Attorney James B. Martin said in a telephone interview. "I still think it's appropriate.".

In a 6-0 decision Thursday, the state Supreme Court upheld three murder convictions and one death sentence for Harvey Miguel Robinson, who was convicted of raping and murdering two women and a 15-year-old girl during an 11-month period in 1992 and 1993.

Robinson, who turned 30 last month, broke into the women's homes and killed them there, authorities said. He abducted the girl early one morning while she was delivering newspapers, stabbed her and buried her body in the woods at the nearby East Side Reservoir, they said.

Robinson also pleaded guilty to attempted homicide and burglary in an attack on another Allentown woman in June 1993 and a pair of subsequent attempted break-ins at her home. A month after the attack, a policeman assigned to guard the woman at home after the first break-in attempt shot Robinson, who was arrested after he sought hospital treatment.

A jury convicted Robinson and imposed separate death sentences for all three murders, but a county judge vacated two of the death sentences on technical grounds involving the jury's consideration of aggravating circumstances. Martin said a separate jury will be picked to consider whether Robinson should be sentenced to death or life in prison for the other two murders.

Writing for the court in a 93-page opinion, Justice Sandra Schultz Newman scolded Robinson's legal team for raising more than 60 substantive issues in their appeal, including some she said were "boilerplate reincarnations of arguments previously rejected" by the state courts.

"It appears that present counsel for appellant has made a deliberate attempt to overwhelm this court in an elaborate, legal conundrum," Newman said...One of Robinson's lawyers, Philip Lauer of Easton, did not rule out the possibility of asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the decision.

"We raised the issues that we raised because we thought that they were meritorious," he said.


Rendell Signs Execution Warrant for Allentown Serial Killer

February 13, 2006

An execution date has been scheduled for Allentown's first serial killer. Governor Rendell has signed a death warrant for Harvey Robinson. You may remember the name. Robinson was convicted in 1994 for raping and killing three people, two women, and a 15-year-old newspaper carrier. The city was gripped by the killings back in '92 and '93. Rendell set Robinson's execution for April 4th.

Only three people have been executed in Pennsylvania since the death penalty was re-instated in 1978.


Serial Killer Resentenced in Lehigh County

April 25, 2006

A convicted serial killer just spared his execution was back in a Lehigh County courtroom today. A judged resentenced Harvey Robinson to life in prison for the rape and murder of his first victim, 29-year-old Joan Burghardt.

That happened back in 1992. Robinson went on to kill two other people. Two of the three death sentences he received were later overturned on appeal. He was scheduled to die by lethal injection for the third murder April fourth, but that was stayed by a judge.



MO: Rape-slayer of females age 13-47

DISPOSITION: Three death sentences + 157 years for rape.



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