Exactly 20 years ago, Robin Row set fire to her Ada County home, killing her husband and 2 children. She is the only woman on Idaho's death row.
It was early morning on February 10, 1992 when Robin Row set her home on fire. The carbon monoxide killed her husband Randy Row and her 2 children 10-year-old Joshua and 8-year-old Tabitha.
Row was sentenced to death, and she continues to appeal that decision. In August 2011, a federal judge dismissed her entire appeal, but cleared her to ask a higher court to consider some other issues in her case, including whether her attorneys were ineffective and whether she was forced to wait too long to be arraigned.
Randy Row's sister: "I don't think she deserves to be alive"
Now 20 years after the shocking triple murder, the victims’ families are waiting to see if Row's death sentence will be carried out.
"She did get the death penalty, and it's just being dragged on and on and on at the expense of everybody," Randy Row's older sister Chris Danielson said. "I could understand them saying, well, we gotta give her a chance or whatnot, well she didn't give them a chance. They [the victims] didn't get 20 extra years on their lives."
Danielson says hearing of each of Robin Row's appeals makes waiting even more difficult.
"It's almost like pouring salt into your wounds. Like, is it ever going to get over? Is it ever going to get over? It's like c'mon, what was all that stuff we went through when we went to trial and they found her guilty?" Danielson said.
Lead investigator: 'She is an extreme psychopath'
Current Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney was the lead investigator on this case in 1992. He was the detective who made the arrest.
"This was probably the most premeditated, in some ways, premeditated for gain murders that I've seen," Sheriff Gary Raney said.
Robin Row had taken out life insurance policies on her family; there was a quarter million dollars covering her children. The most recent policy had been taken out just a couple weeks before their murders.
"For her, it was a matter of would I rather have this money or would I rather have my husband and my 2 kids. She's a sociopath, so she could make the decision, I'd rather have the money," Raney said.
Sheriff: Robin Row likely killed her 2 other children
Raney believes Robin Row also killed her other 2 children, but was never caught or charged.
"As I investigated it and learned... I believe, that she killed a 15-month old daughter in New Hampshire in 1976 and her 6-year-old son in California in 1980," Raney said. "So she had killed 2 of her children before, without being caught, and I was determined that if in fact this was murder, that I was going to do everything I can to collect the evidence and make sure she didn't get away with it again."
Raney says the New Hampshire case involved a daughter who's cause of death was listed as SIDS, but now he says evidence shows children that age do not die from SIDS. He believes Robin Row smothered the baby. "She was in a situation where the child was a burden to her, so she was looking for other opportunities, again a matter of convenience," Raney said.
In 1980, Raney says Robin Row was staying in a borrowed cabin with her 6-year-old son Keith when a fire broke out and killed him. He says forensics suggest the boy's bedroom door was locked and an electric heater was pushed up against his bed blankets. Raney says the boy probably tried crawling to the door, couldn't get out, and died trying to get to the window.
Raney believes Keith's murder is chargeable, and that Robin Row could have been accused of that murder if the Boise case hadn't gone forward. He says Robin Row collected $28,000 in life insurance from Keith's death.
'I think she deserves the death penalty'
"For me understanding her personality and what she did, I think she deserves the death penalty," Raney said. "But every day up until that day, she's not able to manipulate other people, she's not able to get anything out of her web of lies, she's not going to kill anymore children. So she sits there 23 hours a day on death row and waits for that day to come, then there's probably some justice alongside that."
Raney says Robin Row has exhausted what could be considered her significant appeals, though no timeline can be certain for her case.
"I know that she has lost her final, significant appeals," Raney said. "She's on the, what might be classified as 'grasping at straw' appeals, the final opportunities. I don't expect those to go anywhere. As to what the timeline would be for those to be exhausted and what ultimately will be decided about serving the death warrant..."
If Robin Row is ever issued a death warrant, she would be brought from the Pocatello women's prison to the maximum security prison in Boise to await execution.
Row is represented by the Federal Defender Services of Idaho.
(source: KTVB News)