A harrowing trail of evidence led to an arrest in case of missing college student | CNN (2024)

A harrowing trail of evidence led to an arrest in case of missing college student | CNN (1)

Sade Robinson, a 19-year-old studying for an associate's degree at Milwaukee Area Technical College, hoped to pursue a career in criminal justice after she graduated.


When 19-year-old Sade Robinson didn’t show up for her shift at a Wisconsin pizza restaurant on April 2, her co-workers immediately suspected something was wrong.

The evening before, Robinson had planned a first date with Maxwell Anderson, 33, at a local seafood restaurant, according to a criminal complaint against Anderson. He is now facing charges of homicide, mutilation of a corpse, and arson in connection with Robinson’s death.

The young college student had been looking forward to the date, even telling a worker in her building how excited she was, the complaint said. She texted Anderson she was “feeling seafood” and headed out to meet him at a seafood restaurant where he used to work, wearing ripped jeans and a white shirt, according to the complaint.

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Robinson was a vibrant, extroverted presence at the Pizza Shuttle, Manager Justin Romano described her to CNN affiliate WDJT-TV as “very outgoing, she would talk to everybody here. She was always there to lighten the mood.”

Not showing up for work the next day “wasn’t like her at all,” Romano, the manager on duty at the Pizza Shuttle the day Robinson disappeared, told WDJT-TV. “We kind of knew something was up; we had been calling her all day.”

One of Robinson’s friends called the police that night, saying she had not returned her calls or shown up for work, the criminal complaint said. Police visited Robinson’s apartment for a welfare check but did not find her there.

A harrowing trail of evidence

The restaurant closed for three days during the search for Robinson, and authorities discovered a grisly set of clues.

The morning after her date with Anderson, Robinson’s vehicle was discovered on fire. The 2020 Civic had sustained “extreme fire damage completely damaging the interior,” according to the criminal complaint. Despite the fire damage, authorities were able to identify the outfit Robinson had been wearing the night of the date as well as part of an iPhone consistent with her phone in the burned car.

Later the same day, police were called to the scene of another gruesome discovery: a human leg on the beach in Warnimont Park, in the Milwaukee suburb of Cudahy, which appeared “sawn off” at the hip, according to the criminal complaint. An examination determined the leg belonged to a Black woman, approximately 5 feet tall. It was identified as Robinson’s using preliminary DNA evidence, the complaint states.

And on April 6, as police canvassed the area where Robinson’s car had been found, they identified more remains, including a human foot and “what appeared to be human flesh.” All appeared to come from the same person, the complaint said.

Phone records found by a friend of Robinson’s and her mother using a location-sharing app were detailed in the complaint. They show Robinson’s phone traveling the night of April 1 from the seafood restaurant to a nearby sports bar, then to Anderson’s home and then to the park where the remains were discovered.

A harrowing trail of evidence led to an arrest in case of missing college student | CNN (3)

Maxwell Anderson appears in court as he is charged with killing and dismembering 19-year-old Sade Robinson on Friday April 12, 2024 at the Criminal Justice Facility in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Suspect faces homicide and mutilation charges

On Friday, Wisconsin authorities charged Anderson with first-degree intentional homicide, mutilating a corpse, and arson of property other than a building. He would face life in prison if convicted on the homicide charge.

The complaint details evidence police say ties Anderson to the crimes, including surveillance video, witness accounts and phone records. Authorities also found blood in Robinson’s house and “several gasoline containers,” it states.

The complaint says evidence led authorities to conclude Robinson was dead.

“The facts mentioned in this complaint cause Complainant to conclude that the Defendant intentionally killed and then dismembered Robinson with the intent to conceal the homicide, and it occurred between the arrival at the Defendant’s residence and his departure from the Warnimont Park area,” it states.

Anthony Cotton, an attorney representing Anderson, told CNN his client “is presumed innocent and we will fight this matter vigorously in court.”

At a Friday news conference, police said the search for more of Robinson’s remains and other evidence continues.

When asked if her office was reviewing other cases of missing women for possible connections, Milwaukee County Sheriff Danita Ball said, “So far, there hasn’t been any evidence that there are any other victims.”

After Anderson’s first court appearance, Robinson’s mother, Sheena Scarbrough, called his arrest “justice for Sade.”

A verified GoFundMe for Robinson’s memorial service described Robinson as “a loving daughter, a cherished sister, and a dear friend to many.”

Robinson, originally from Mississippi, was about to graduate from Milwaukee Area Technical College and pursue a career in criminal justice, according to the fundraiser.

“The pain of losing Sade has left a void in the hearts of her family, especially her grieving mother and little sister, along with other relatives, friends, and the entire community who loved and supported her,” reads the description. “As we come together to honor Sade’s memory, we aim to provide her with the dignified farewell she deserves.”

CNN’s Kara Devlin and Cheri Mossburg contributed to this report.

A harrowing trail of evidence led to an arrest in case of missing college student | CNN (2024)


What happened to Sade Robinson? ›

It's been over three weeks since Sade Robinson went missing and was later found to be killed and dismembered. In the time since, suspect Maxwell Anderson pleaded not guilty to charges and asked to go to trial. Prosecutors believe Anderson met Robinson for a date April 1, then killed and mutilated her.

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Where did Sade go to college? ›

At age 17 Sade began a three-year program in fashion and design at Central St. Martin's College of Art and Design in London. After graduating, she modeled and worked as a menswear designer.

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Sade Adu, one of our favorite soul singers, is making headlines again. Will she bless us with a new album soon? We've got the scoop.

Who was the lead singer of Sade? ›

With a career spanning four decades, Sade have blended jazz, soul, and R&B to create a sound that's all their own – laid-back rhythms, elegant arrangements, melodic saxophone lines, and, of course, the smooth, sultry, mesmerizing vocals of their lead singer Sade Adu.

Who is Sade the influencer? ›

Sade Tanisha is passionate about style, fashion, mental health, fitness, family and beauty. Embracing the core values of authenticity, hard work, and passion. Sade has built a community of engaged millennial women that look to her for lifestyle, fashion, beauty, fitness, and parenting advice.

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