Robin Brooks may have been stalked before her death, say police

By Christine Pelisek
April 27, 2020 05:14 PM
Credit: Sacramento County Sheriff's Department

Police in Sacramento, California, have arrested the former neighbor of a woman who was found murdered in her apartment 40 years ago.

On Friday, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department announced the arrest of 71-year-old Philip Wilson in connection with the 1980 death of 20-year-old Robin Brooks. Brooks was found bound, raped and stabbed inside the bedroom of her Sacramento apartment.

Wilson is charged with murder with the special circumstance allegation of rape, according to the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office.

“She worked at the donut shop that was right near the [apartment] complex,” retired Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Sergeant Michaela Links tells PEOPLE. “I’m assuming that he may have seen her there or somewhere in the apartment complex.”

Links doesn’t believe Brooks knew her killer. She believes the victim was stalked before her death.

“We have no information that they were ever seen together, or knew each other,” she says. “She was 20 years old and he was 31 at the time.”

Links says Wilson “has never come up in the investigation, ever.”

Philip Wilson
Philip Wilson
| Credit: Sacramento County Jail

Genetic geneology was used to help solve the 40 year old cold case, says Links.

Brooks’ sister Maria Arrick says she always believed her sister’s killer would be caught.

“I’m thrilled,” she tells PEOPLE. “I was always so afraid he wouldn’t be alive. What’s a miracle is that DNA. It gives a lot of hope for other people. I never gave up.”

Wilson was arrested at his Sacramento home Thursday, a day shy of the 40th anniversary of her death.

Brooks, a New York state native, had only been living in her apartment for five weeks when she was killed. On the night of her death, Brooks got off of work at midnight and stopped briefly by a high school party before going home.

The following morning, friends knocked on her door but there was no answer. When she didn’t show up to work at 4 p.m., her friends returned to her ground-floor apartment and asked the landlord to let them in.

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Links says now that police have made an arrest, she will put together a timeline and try to figure out if he is responsible for other crimes.

“I’m not convinced that Robin was his first crime, violent crime,” she says. “His description is pretty distinct just because of the size. He’s 6’4″, 300 pounds. So that may also help us find some other cases if he’s done anything else.”

Links, who is retired and volunteers her time as a cold case investigator with the sheriff’s office, spent 60 hours a month on the case. For her, it became personal.

“We identify with cases regarding our family or our kids or whatever it is that’s going on in your life at that time,” she says. “But, Robin and I are the same age, and she was 20 years old. And I remembered what I was doing at 20 years old. And it just really hit me that how one violent, evil person stole everything from her and from her family. You look at her picture with her big smile and you’re like, how horrible is this that this woman didn’t get to enjoy her life?”

It was not immediately clear if he has retained an attorney who could speak on his behalf or entered a plea.