The violent murder of 4-year-old Derrick Robie on August 2, 1993, is remembered as one of the most heinous crimes in Savona, New York’s history. While Derrick was found strangled and battered to death in a wooded area, the police investigation quickly led to Eric Smith, a 13-year-old local child who was convicted of murder.
With an episode of ‘48 Hours’ titled ‘Eric Smith: Gambling On a Killer,’ CBS News looks into this tragedy, painting a vivid picture of the terrifying incident and demonstrating how it affected Derrick’s parents, Doreen and Dale Robie.
If this case interests you and you’d like to know where Derrick’s parents are right now, we’ve got you covered.
Doreen and Dale Robie: Who Are They?
Doreen and Dale Robie resided in the little hamlet of Savona, New York, and had a boring but pleasant life. Their marriage was pleasant, and their son, Derrick, was essential in further solidifying their bond.
The Robies were characterised as kind-hearted and exceedingly helpful by the local community, but the tragedy they were forced to endure terrified the entire town.
Doreen and Dale were quite protective of Derrick, and they rarely let him go anyplace alone. Doreen, on the other hand, stated that on August 2, 1993, when her son was getting ready to attend a summer camp in a park one block from their home, she let him walk alone for the first time.
Doreen last saw her young son as he kissed her and told her he loved her before bouncing down the path. Derrick was stopped on his way to the park by 13-year-old Eric Smith, who claimed to know a shortcut through the woods.
After successfully luring the 4-year-old into a quiet location, Eric strangled Derrick before suffocating him with pebbles. Derrick’s family became concerned when he did not return from camp that day, and they contacted the police, who eventually discovered his dead.
Local residents were stunned by the grisly murder, which they initially mistook for the work of an outsider. When Eric began asking questions about police processes and what would happen if the murderer turned out to be a child, concerns were raised.
Officers wasted no time interrogating him, and after initially denying meeting Derrick, Eric eventually confessed to the murder.
What Has Happened to Doreen and Dale Robie?
Doreen and Dale Robie did everything they could after Eric was placed on trial to aid the legal system to convict their son’s killer. Eric was tried as an adult and sentenced to nine years to life in prison in 1994 after being convicted of second-degree murder.
Eric was transferred to an adult prison when he turned 21 and had his first parole hearing nine years after the incident. Doreen and Dale Robie were adamant about keeping Eric in prison, so they testified at his parole hearings in the hopes that the law would not release him. Eric Smith, however, was finally released on parole in February 2022 after serving 28 years in prison.
When word of Eric’s release reached Savona, the majority of the town, together with Doreen and Dale, staged a peaceful protest against his re-entry. Despite the fact that they were unable to prevent Eric from receiving parole, Doreen and Dale Robie indicated that they try not to think about Eric in their daily life.
Furthermore, Doreen, who currently lives with Dale in Savona, New York, stated that she was attempting to move on with her life, saying, “I don’t focus on where he [Eric] is, what he’s doing…. ’cause I don’t care.” As long as he’s not in the vicinity of his friends and family.”