In January 2011, the Susanville Police Department in California lost one of its best Police Officers, Robert McElrath. He was described to be a frivolous person who loved his job and his children dearly. His life was cut short by an untimely death caused by a vicious plot involving extramarital affairs and greed. In an episode titled ‘A Body at Devil’s Corral’ in Investigation Discovery’s ‘Til Death Do Us Part’, the murder of Robert McElrath has been retold. Robert’s former wife and her then-boyfriend were accused of his murder. Let us find out more about the two suspects who later pleaded guilty to the crime.
Who Were Joanna Lynne McElrath and Robin Glen James?
Joanna Lynne and Robert McElrath were residents of Susanville, California. They also had gone to the same high school, where according to friends and family, Joanna had dated Robert’s friend. After graduating, Robert joined the Marine Corp and after his service period, became a Correctional Officer. He was then appointed as a Police Officer at the Susanville Police Department in 2003. Joanne thought Robert was her idle man. A few months after dating, Joanna and Robert tied the knot, with Robert adopting the two daughters Joanna had from her previous marriage. The couple went on to have two more children. However, Joanna started having an affair with Robin Glen James.
Joanna and Robert separated in 2010, but according to reports, they had started seeing each other again just a few months before Robert’s death. Joanna’s statements reportedly indicated that she woke up on January 2, 2011, with an uneasy feeling. Following this, she had noticed Robert and some of his belongings including his boots, car, phone, key, and gun were missing. Joanna also said that the couple had decided to have a quiet night at their Spruce Street Home, the previous day. After having a few drinks, the couple moved to Robert’s residence at the Fifth Street which had been his home after he separated from his former wife and before he moved in back with her again. Text transcripts from Robert’s phone to a Sergeant from the Susanville Police department showed that Joanna was getting him drunk. He also mentioned the address of the Fifth Street house in this text. On January 2, 2011, Robert’s body was found at a railroad trestle over the Susan River in an area called the Devil’s Corral.
Where Are Joanna Lynn McElrath and Robin Glen James Now?
Joanna McElrath and Robin Glen James were arrested on January 6, 2011, in connection to Robert McElrath’s death. The preliminary investigation combined with autopsy reports determined Robert’s death to have been caused by a bullet wound. He had also been drugged with prescribed narcotics, according to the reports. Joanna was alleged of drugging her former husband with narcotic medication. Once Robert became unresponsive, he was driven to Devil’s Corral where he was shot with his own service gun and then thrown off the bridge. Text excerpts registered as court transcripts in Lassen County Superior Court suggested that Robin James was the only person at Devil’s Corral at the time.
The texts exchanged between Joanna and Robin were a few of the incriminating evidence against them. On February 28, 2014, Joanna McElrath pleaded guilty to her husband’s murder in the Lassen Superior Court. She was then sentenced on May 23, 2014, to 25 years in prison and was additionally ordered to pay $8,913 as restitution to the McElrath family. She was awarded credit for the 1,233 days she had already spent in custody. On December 11, 2014, Robin Glen James pleaded guilty to the charges against him including felony murder and alleged premeditation. He was also sentenced to 25 years in prison. Joanna is currently at the Central California Women’s facility, serving her sentence while, Robin is at Sierra Conservation Center, also serving his sentence.
Read More: Robert McElrath: How Did He Die?