Family searches for missing Fayetteville woman
Posted July 13, 2011 5:01 p.m. EDT
Updated July 14, 2011 6:42 p.m. EDT
Fayetteville, N.C. — As Fayetteville police investigate whether a missing 24-year-old woman was the victim of foul play, her family continued to search for her Wednesday.
Erica Cherie Gainey was last seen on June 28 around 2:30 a.m. leaving her home in a white 2003 Hyundai Elantra with an acquaintance. Police have identified him as Terry Dale Robinson.
Gainey has known Robinson for several years, according to her mother, Dawn Kime. He used to be Gainey's landlord and routinely pays her bills, Kime said, but her daughter never wanted a relationship.
State Department of Correction records show that Robinson, 44, was convicted in 1989 for assaulting his estranged wife and served six years in prison. She spent more than two years in a coma before dying, and state law at the time precluded him from being charged with murder since her death occurred so long after the assault.
Robinson was arrested on a domestic violence charge on June 26, police records show, and Kime said Gainey picked him the following day when he bonded out of jail.
Police said that, about seven hours after Gainey was last seen, Robinson was spotted at a Family Dollar store in the Sampson County town of Harrells – 40 miles away – buying bleach and moth balls. He was driving Gainey's Elantra, which has a Nebraska tag, police said.
Detective Mike Ballard of the Fayetteville Police Department said he has spoken with Robinson about Gainey's disappearance.
"At one point in time, he just shut down and refused to talk with us," Ballard said.
Robinson admitted to meeting Gainey that day but didn't explain his trip to Harrells, Ballard said.
Investigators characterize Robinson as a "strong person of interest" in the case, but no charges have been filed against him.
Kime said she also has spoken with Robinson, and he only told her that he loved and missed Gainey "just like everybody else."
"I just want him to tell us where she is so we can find her and bring her home," Kime said.
Reached on his cellphone, Robinson told WRAL News on Wednesday that his "heart is heavy."
“This is all overwhelming for me. It’s taking its toll the way everybody has been coming to me,” he said, declining to comment further without his attorney. "I just hope and pray this has a positive result."
Gainey is not the kind of person to go away for such an extended period and not call anyone, her mother said.
Kime spends time each day handing out fliers and asking strangers if they have seen her daughter. She also tries to answer questions from her 6-year-old granddaughter about Gainey's whereabouts.
"She asks where she is and can she help make fliers," Kime said, fighting back tears.
Gainey is described as black, 5 feet 6 inches tall, about 135 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes.
Anyone with information on Gainey's whereabouts or the circumstances surrounding her disappearance is asked to call detectives at 910-549-7329 or Crime Stoppers at 910-483-8477.