For mother of deceased Kent State student, a time to remember

Jacob Byk

Birthdays are always a reflective time and almost always a time for celebration. Less often than not, they are a painful reminder of what could have been. 

For Carmilla Robinson, Tuesday was a day that she will forever wish to skip over. It’s the date of her daughter’s birthday — her daughter who did not live to see 20. 

The remains of her 19-year-old daughter, Taylor, were found in Cuyahoga National Park on Sept. 11 of last year. She had waited 107 days for the conclusion of Taylor’s missing person’s case that began in May 2013, when Taylor did not return home from her hospice job in Akron, Robinson said in interviews Nov. 11 and 25.

“I told her I loved her and I’d see her in the morning,” Robinson recounted telling Taylor. “And she said: ‘Okay, I love you.’ Then she waved.” 

By 8:11 a.m. on May 5, police accompanied Robinson to the house Taylor was thought to have been last. Robinson described it as chaotic. 

Hikers found parts of Taylor’s skull in the park, about twenty miles from where she had been working when she went missing. As of Taylor’s birthday, no charges have been made, although detectives have indicated they have plausible leads. 

The way she was killed is also still enigmatic.

Taylor’s photographs — as well as anecdotes of the search for her — adorn Robinson’s Akron residence. Whether manifestedin the form of giant posters or thumbnail, wallet-sized images tucked into the corners of family photographs and paintings depicting Jesus Christ, they seem like a glaring reminder of what once was.

“I can’t accept that physically I won’t see her, so this is my physical,” Robinson said as she gestures to a poster-board collage of Taylor. She added that she is afraid to put the posters away. She said if she does, it means Taylor is really gone. 

“Now you know she’s not lost anymore,” she said. “That’s the only comfort: that she’s not lost anymore.”

Jacob Byk is a full-time photographer for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].