Repossession Agent Killer Pleads Guilty
Elwood Allan Humphries never saw or heard it coming. One moment he was preparing to repossess a car whose owner had fallen behind on payments. An instant later, he was shot to death as he sat in the driver’s seat of his tow truck.
When police arrived, officers found the tow truck backed into a driveway with its engine running and in reverse gear with its lights on and doors locked. Humphries, 42, was still wearing earbuds. The Williamsburg man had just hung up the phone after talking with someone from River City Recovery, his employer.
There was no evidence that Humphries knew that his killer was outside the truck before a single round pierced the back window and struck him in the head, said Petersburg prosecutor Elsa Seidel.
“Right next to him was a copy of the repossession order,” Seidel said.
Just over a year after Humphries was slain, Anton B. Robinson, the man whose car the victim was trying to repossess, pleaded guilty ahead of a scheduled two-day trial this week to second-degree murder — reduced from first-degree murder — and using a firearm in the killing. Robinson, 21, will likely face a prison term of 16 to 28 years when he is sentenced later this year in Petersburg Circuit Court.
Humphries, a father and grandfather, was sent to Robinson’s home in the 3700 block of Westwood Drive late on the evening of Jan. 10, 2018, to pick up a 2012 Audi that Robinson’s girlfriend, Amy Jackson, had purchased for him several months earlier. But she made only one payment in September 2017, and warnings the car would be repossessed apparently were ignored.
When police were summoned to a shots-fired call just after midnight on Jan. 11, 2018, they discovered Humphries dead and the nearby house open with lights and televisions still on. A dog was left behind.
“It definitely appeared that whoever had been there had left in a hurry,” Seidel said.
Petersburg police soon confirmed that Robinson and Jackson lived there but had fled after the shooting to Robinson’s mother’s home in Jarratt. Detectives traveled there and kept watch on Jackson’s car until someone tried to drive it away. Police stopped the car and that led investigators to interview Robinson and Jackson.
Jackson told police that she heard the tow truck in their driveway and yelled to Robinson that someone was taking his car. She said she then heard someone going out the front door followed by a gunshot. She ran to the front of the house and saw Robinson running back inside, panicked, with a gun in his hand, Seidel said.
“He said get the kids together, we got to go, we got to go,” the prosecutor said Jackson told police. “They all got in her car very quickly and left to drive to his mother’s house.”
In a separate interview, Robinson eventually admitted firing the gun but claimed it accidentally discharged as he was “skipping to the front door” inside the house and he tripped over an ashtray, Seidel said.
But Robinson’s story could not be reconciled with a firearm expert’s assessment of the shot based on the position of a recovered shell casing. At best, the shot may have been fired from the top of the home’s front stoop or down a step or two, Seidel said the expert determined.
The markings on the bullet recovered from the victim were consistent with a round fired from a 9mm SCCY. The murder weapon was never recovered, but Jackson told police that a close friend of Robinson had bought a purple-colored 9mm SCCY for Robinson at some earlier date. Investigators located the sales receipt for the gun.
In his interview with police, Robinson was asked whether he checked on the victim to see if he was OK or if he called for an ambulance. Robinson said he saw Humphries move inside the truck cab and that he told Jackson to call 911, but “she said she didn’t have her phone because she had to leave so quickly.”
Investigators obtained surveillance video from a hardware store not far from Robinson’s home that showed Humphries’ truck pass by about 11:40 p.m. Police also obtained video from a homeowner who lives next door to Robinson’s mother in Jarratt that showed Jackson’s vehicle and Robinson’s mother’s vehicle arriving at the mother’s house about 12:15 a.m.
Had the case gone to trial, Jackson would have testified that Robinson’s mother had met the couple on the road about halfway from Petersburg, and told them to “follow me home and we’ll figure out what to do,” the prosecutor said.