Losing a loved one is never easy, especially if it happens in a tragic and unexpected manner. You may scramble to find some answers, but they aren’t always readily available. And, sometimes, they surface when you least expect it.
When 38-year-old Steven Robards suddenly suffered a fatal heart attack on February 18, 1993, his family was understandably devastated. With no warning signs in his medical history, they had no idea how he’d been the victim of such a tragic end.
In the year following his death, however, his teenage daughter, Marie, revealed a disturbing secret to her best friend that could help explain exactly what happened…
Growing up in Forth Worth, Texas, Steven Robards was a handsome and popular guy. While attending high school during the 1970s, he met Beth Lohmer, a student athlete and president of the school’s National Honors Society. After falling madly in love, they wed in 1974.
Sadly, their fairy tale story did not last. Two years later, the couple welcomed their daughter, Dorothy Marie, who simply went by “Marie.” Even though the couple tried their best, their relationship fizzled due to Steven’s sometimes erratic behavior. By 1980, they were divorced.
Within a year, Beth had remarried. This time, she chose to settle down with a man named Frank Burroughs, who was an ex-Navy petty officer. With Marie in tow, they relocated 30 minutes away to the small town of Granbury, Texas. Still, Marie had a hard time coming to accept Frank as her new father figure…
While Marie’s relationship with her stepfather was tense, it didn’t stop her from growing incredibly close to her mother. Their lives seemed to be headed in the right direction: Marie was settling into her new school and partaking in music, art, and dance. And then, suddenly, everything changed.
The catalyst came when Marie discovered Frank cheating on her mother. Beth, wanting to make things work, decided to stay with her husband. But Marie had enough, and she chose to leave the house. Less than a week later, she tried to return home, but Frank refused to let her back inside.
Not knowing what else to do, Beth contacted her ex-husband, Steven, to see if Marie could live with him, to which he obliged. A few days later, the girl had returned to Forth Worth, where she enrolled in Eastern Hills High School. The living conditions in her father’s apartment, however, were less than ideal.
Marie wasn’t exactly enjoying her time back in Forth Worth with her father. In a letter written to her mom, she claimed that she not only didn’t care much for her school, but also that Steven’s one-bedroom apartment was extremely filthy.
The situation only worsened in the following weeks. Soon, Beth received an alarming note from Marie, in which her daughter admitted she was contemplating suicide. Still, Beth believed her daughter was just expressing typical teenaged angst and wasn’t truly suicidal.
Despite how much Marie claimed to dislike Forth Worth, she managed to turn things around and she began to thrive. She seemed to be accepting her father’s new home, and her grades even improved. “In all honesty, she was what you wanted a teenager to be,” their neighbor, Sandra Hudgins, said in an interview.
Despite this, on February 18, 1993, Sandra found Marie on her doorstep, explaining that her father was sick. After rushing over to see what was wrong, she found Steven lying on the floor. He was barely breathing. When paramedics arrived, they attempted to save his life, but ultimately they were unable to. The coroner officially ruled the cause of death a heart attack.
With nowhere left to go, Marie returned to Granbury to live with her mother and stepfather, who were still experiencing marital issues. Shortly after, Beth decided to take her daughter and move to Panama City, Florida. This move was not easy on either of them, however, and Marie soon became severely depressed.
When Frank showed up in Florida, eager to reconcile his relationship with Beth, Marie wanted nothing to do with it. She instead opted to move back to Texas, this time in Mansfield, so she could live with her grandparents.
After enrolling at Mansfield High School, MArie became friends with a fellow classmate named Stacey High. Coming from a broken home herself, Stacey was able to relate to Marie, and the two became fast friends. Still, Stacey suspected there was something Marie was hiding from her…
During their senior year, the two girls became incredibly close. As they did so, Stacey tried to pry details about Steven’s death out of her friend. Still, Marie seemed to want to keep them to herself. Why wouldn’t she open up to her friend about such an important event in her life?
Then, things suddenly took a turn in January of 1994. While studying a scene from Hamlet, in which one of the characters is coming to terms with a murder they’d committed, Marie and Stacey’s conversation shifted unexpectedly.
Marie, suddenly overcome with overbearing guilt, decided to confess something. In a wave of emotion, she admitted that she’d murdered her father with poison just a year earlier. Unsure of what to do but wanting to be a good friend, Stacey attempted to keep this news to herself. But eight months later, she felt she had to tell police. Soon, an investigation began.
Using the information Marie revealed to Stacey—and after discovering that there had been barium acetate in Steven’s system—investigators determined that he had, in fact, been poisoned. When brought in for questioning, Marie claimed that her relationship with Steven was good and that he was in no way abusive. Surprisingly, she admitted that she committed the crime because she thought it was her only chance to be able to live with her mother again.
What Marie didn’t know was that Beth had already been planning to reunite with her daughter and move their family to Florida anyway. “If I had only told Marie one week earlier,” Beth recalled in an interview, “none of this would ever have happened.”
Eventually, Marie went to trial for Steven’s murder. By the end of the the court proceedings, she had received a sentence of 28 years in prison. In 2003, just eight years later, however, she was released on parole…
In the decade since, many people have come to believe that Marie began to live under another identity, leaving her real name behind. She hasn’t been seen or heard from since. Her crime and its story, however, still linger in the minds of true crime obsessives everywhere…
That is just absolutely tragic. To think that this young girl went to such great lengths to escape her life is just heartbreaking.
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