Sarasota Herald-Tribune (FL)
Punta Gorda couple found dead in home
November 26, 2002
Section: A SECTION
MICHAEL A. SCARCELLA firstname.lastname@example.org
Every morning, Joe and Jerilyn Robinson arrived at Mass at
the Sacred Heart Church here, always a minute or two late, but never
As soon as Mass started, not a minute would go by and they'd come
in," Ron Duquette, the church's youth minister said Monday. With
his eyes he showed how the couple would peer around the room looking
for their spot. "They always seemed surprised -- Mass had already
started." Middle section, right side. That was the Robinsons'
Joe intended to skip Friday's Mass and go to a local golf course with
friends. They arrived shortly after sunrise to pick him up, but nobody
answered the door, and telephone calls to the house later that
afternoon were not returned.
That night, as friends returned to the couple's home, growing ever
more certain that something wasn't right, a dim light shone through
the bedroom window.
Police were called, and they entered the house about 9 p.m.
They found Joseph J. Robinson, 72, and his wife, Jerilyn M.,
61, New York City natives married 36 years, dead on their bedroom
They had died there sometime Thursday night or early Friday
morning, apparently from carbon monoxide poisoning.
Both were wearing night clothes, and lay near each other.
Investigators say the Robinsons' minivan, which was parked in the
garage, had been running since the couple returned home from Thursday
night socializing -- riding the ferris wheel at the church's weekend
carnival, a round or two of cards at a friend's house. They came home
about 11 p.m. and never turned the car off.
The heat was so intense in the attached double-car garage, which
was connected to the house through a door and an air-conditioning
unit, that wood panels had buckled.
Based on preliminary investigation, city police were treating the
deaths as accidental. They were investigating whether a carbon
monoxide detector in the house failed to activate.
City police Cmdr. Jason P. Ciaschini said the death investigation
remains open, but initial observations show no suggestion of foul
"The only solace in this whole thing is that they went
together," Duquette said.
A strand of white Rosary beads dangled from the van's rearview
mirror Monday. The garage was still warm as friends and family
grappled with the loss of a couple who brought excitement into the
lives of many here.
"She was almost like a daughter to us," said close friend
Mary Ellen Tilka, 83. She and her husband, Michael, met the couple
through church. The Robinsons, devout Catholics, rarely missed church.
They often dined with friends, shopped and played cards. The couple
met over a series of Friday night card games at her father's house in
Long Beach, N.Y.
"They're playing cards every Friday night and the next thing
you know they were getting married," recalled Lynne Flood,
Jerilyn's sister, who lives in New York.
"They hit it off instantly over the dining room table. It was
a very quick romance," Flood, 56, said.
Jerilyn and Joe grew up in Manhattan, in the Yorkville neighborhood
on the Upper East Side, but never crossed paths there.
With five months of high school left, Joe dropped out and joined
the Navy, where he served on the USS Stoddard, a destroyer, during the
"He said, 'The war's here. I gotta go,'" said John Robinson,
61, the youngest of four Robinson brothers.
Joe Robinson remained in touch with his fellow Stoddard
Jerilyn Robinson, who shared her computer skills with
countless people here, was a retired AT&T supervisor who worked in
New York City. Her husband was an expert mechanic who worked on
elevators in a city full of skyscrapers.
The couple had their house built in the 200 block of Garvin Street
in 1985. They lived here year-round for about the last 10 years,
developing a lifestyle that included dining out often and being
involved with the church.
Funeral arrangements will be made after the medical examiner has
finished with his report, family members said.
The couple had no children. Jerilyn Robinson is survived by
two sisters; Joseph Robinson leaves two brothers and two
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