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7 months after disappearance, family of missing geologist still clinging to hope

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It’s been seven months since Daniel Robinson, a 25-year-old geologist, was last seen at his worksite in Buckeye, Ariz., about 50 miles southwest of Phoenix. Since then, Daniel’s father, David Robinson, has worked tirelessly to search for his son.

Video Transcript

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- It has been seven months since Arizona geologist Daniel Robinson was last seen.

- Daniel was working as a geologist and was last seen leaving a job site in Buckeye, Arizona on June 23.

- Nearly a month later, Daniel's Jeep was found in a ravine approximately four miles from where he was last seen. And police say that the vehicle appeared to have rolled and landed on its side. Daniel's clothes, his cell phone, wallet, his keys, they were all found at the scene. And police say that foul play is not suspected, but Daniel's family says otherwise.

DAVID ROBINSON: It's a roller coaster thinking about to get an answer or get closer to finding some-- you know, some answers to what happened, and then it's like day one, you start all over again.

- After Daniel disappeared, his father David Robinson, an army veteran, left his home and family in South Carolina to move to Phoenix. He hired a private investigator, assembled a volunteer search crew, and conducted over 20 searches in the deserted terrain where Daniel was last seen. With the help of volunteers, David is now expanding his search efforts into several Valley cities.

DAVID ROBINSON: In the case my son somehow did escape that desert out there with a head injury or anything, it's a possibility that he could be part of a homeless population.

- The Buckeye police department says that this is an open and active investigation. And that every sighting and tip they receive on Daniel is being followed up on. However, his father feels police aren't making any progress in the investigation.

DAVID ROBINSON: They wouldn't even send something simple as a helicopter to find a young man out there in the desert who never been out there before in that area.

- Daniel was last seen on June 23, around the same time Gabby Petito's case sparked national attention. Despite David's best efforts, he couldn't draw much attention to his son's case. He says Daniel's story didn't make the local news until July 9, about two weeks after the disappearance.

DAVID ROBINSON: And it says to me when I hear that it took an unfortunate incident with another family missing their young daughter. They say it's hard work to get some kind of attention for my son's case was accredited to this case being heard and bringing a light to my son's case. The Petito family, for instance, don't have anything to do with the way that people approach other cases.

They grieving just like I'm grieving, you know, looking for their young daughter. It's not their fault. It's the way the system is set up. People of color, we often go unheard.

- Robinson says it's hurtful to see a young white woman's case met with more urgency than his son's.

DAVID ROBINSON: You have to literally beg and plead and work almost-- do all kinds of twists and turns just to get some type of attention for your child. Just to be heard and get some kind of attention so we can get some movement on the ground. Get some pressure on the police department.

- And while the cases of missing white women are given more focus and urgency, people of color are disappearing at disproportionate rates. According to 2020 FBI data, Black people make up 35% of missing persons reports but only 13% of the US population. White people, meanwhile, make up 54% of missing persons reports and 76% of the US population.

DAVID ROBINSON: Everybody's case should be treated exactly the same way. There shouldn't be one treated greater than the other or more spotlight than one, especially the urgency that first 24 to 48 hours is very crucial to finding somebody's loved one.

- As time goes by, David says the odds of finding Daniel grow smaller. But he's committed to finding his son no matter how long that takes.

DAVID ROBINSON: I've been there in the desert heat in Arizona, 118 degrees, along with volunteers by my side. It changed from being a rescue mission to a recovery. And that's the thing that's very hard to swallow.

I'm here for you, son. I'm not giving up. We'll keep fighting. I know you're out there. You're worth it.

And if nobody care, I care. And I'm going to do everything I can to find him.

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