Mother ‘died fighting to get her child back.’ Now both will be buried in Kansas City

Father of Sierra Robinson: ‘It was a life gone too soon’

Friends and family held a vigil for Sierra Robinson and her toddler daughter Noelani Robinson at Hibbs Park, also known as Precious Doe Memorial Park Friday, Mar. 22, 2019.
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Friends and family held a vigil for Sierra Robinson and her toddler daughter Noelani Robinson at Hibbs Park, also known as Precious Doe Memorial Park Friday, Mar. 22, 2019.

Sierra Robinson left her Kansas City home in January for Milwaukee in the hopes her toddler daughter would get to know the father.

Earlier this week, the bodies of both mother and daughter, Noelani Robinson, returned home to KC and the pair will be buried Saturday. The two were killed in separate suspected murders that made headlines in Milwaukee and across the country for several days.

“She left here to connect with the father,” Hank Robinson, Sierra’s father, told The Star on Friday, hours before a scheduled vigil in his daughter and granddaughter’s memory. “Not only was he requesting to see his daughter but Sierra was pushing the issue (saying), ‘I want her to know you.’”

Media reports from Wisconsin detailed what happened to Robinson and her two-year-old daughter once they connected with Dariaz Higgins, Noelani’s father. Higgins has been charged with first degree intentional homicide in the March 11 death of Sierra Robinson, according to Milwaukee court records. And he’s a suspect in the death of Noelani, whose body was found on March 15 wrapped in a blanket alongside a highway in Minnesota.

A family photo of Sierra Robinson, left, and her 2-year-old girl Noelani Robinson. Courtesy of friends and family

According to The Associated Press, police said Higgins, 35, and Robinson, 24, were previously involved but were no longer together. Robinson had left Noelani with Higgins when she went to Las Vegas last month but wanted her back, authorities said.

Robinson had returned to Milwaukee earlier this month to get her daughter. Media reports say she thought Higgins was taking her to Noelani on March 11, when prosecutors say Higgins shot Robinson and a friend, who survived.

“She died fighting to get her child back,” Hank Robinson said. “But he flipped the script on her.”

After Robinson’s death, authorities issued an Amber Alert for Noelani.

A report by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Friday gave further details about the case, including how a woman was charged with aiding Higgins after the shooting of Robinson.

An obituary for the mother and daughter describes Robinson as a woman “full of life and enjoyed adventures.” Her family said she loved good food and poetry and wanted to write a book about the “up and down adventures of her life.”

“She enjoyed spending time with family, laughing, and talking about life,” her obituary said. “She had a smile that would brighten anybody’s day. ... She demanded your attention when she walked into the room and she liked it that way. Her motto... ‘it doesn’t matter what you wear, as long as your hair and makeup is done.’”

Robinson gave birth to Noelani in November 2016. The obituary described the toddler as “extremely joyful and a ball of life.”

“When she came into this world, the people around her lives were changed dramatically, including Sierra’s,” the obit read. “Noelani could make anybody smile and laugh just like her mother. She had a personality out of this world, tiny but feisty.”

Before Sierra and her daughter left Kansas City in January, the mother worked at a local Starbucks and was “a customer favorite,” her father said.

“I seen her every day.”

He said family and friends worried about his daughter when she left for Milwaukee.

“She was warned that it might not be a good idea,” Hank Robinson said. “But she felt she wanted to do that.”

Within five days earlier this month, the Robinson family lost two beloved members, the mother and daughter’s obituary said.

“We will never understand the reasons as to why, but we have to trust that God had a better plan,” it read. “They both are resting now in a place where there are no more tears, no more heartaches nor frustrations. “

A GoFundMe page has been created to help the family with expenses. It has raised more than $14,000 as of Friday afternoon.

On Friday, more than 100 people gathered at Hibbs Park, better known as Precious Doe Memorial Park at 59th Street and Spruce Avenue to remember Sierra and Noelani Robinson.

Damon Daniel, president of the AdHoc Group Against Crime, led the vigil with a prayer for the two and their family and friends.

He also recited Kansas City’s grim crime statistics: 30 homicides so far this year. There were 135 last year, and 151 the year before.

“You don’t get over it,” Daniel told Hank Robinson. “This isn’t a race. This is a life-long journey.”

Hevonte Robinson, brother of Sierra Robinson, recalled his sister.

“My sister had a big attitude,” he said. “It was a positive attitude, and sometimes a negative attitude. But that was my sister.”

He also spoke of his niece.

“Ever since my sister became pregnant, Noelani became the center of everything,” he said, adding later, “I wanted to teach her how to play piano so I wouldn’t have to and I could sing my hymns.”

Hevonte Robinson reminded the crowd to let those close to them know that they’re loved, since there’s no telling what the next day brings.

“The last time I saw my sister, I kissed her and told her I love her,” Robinson said. “And I’m good with that.”

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Laura Bauer came to The Star in 2005 after spending much of her life in southwest Missouri. She’s a member of the investigative team focusing on watchdog journalism. In her 25-year career, Laura’s stories on child welfare, human trafficking, crime and Kansas secrecy have been nationally recognized.