ENCINITAS — Residents Mike and Jeannie Huse were sitting inside their home at 10:30 p.m. on May 12, 2006, on the 1800 block of Bel Air Terrace in Encinitas, the night of their neighbor’s murder.
Jeannie had just returned home from taking the family dog for a walk around the neighborhood when she heard three gunshots.
“I remember I was right here when I heard these loud noises, and I realized that they were gunshots, three I believe,” Jeannie told The Coast News.
Just two houses away, 57-year-old Sibyl Robbins had been violently murdered — gunned down in her driveway while seated next to her husband, Harrison, in the front passenger seat of the couple’s silver Volvo sedan shortly after returning home from a night out together.
When Jeannie and Mike came out to see what had happened, they saw Harrison, whose face was covered in blood, stumbling across the street to a neighbor’s house before knocking on the door and pleading for help.
“[Harrison] tried to get help, but [Sibyl] was already gone at that point,” Jeannie said.
Harrison survived gunshot wounds to his hand and face after he was rushed to Sharp’s Memorial Hospital in San Diego and placed in a medically induced coma.
The brazen attack in a quiet suburban neighborhood occurred just before Mother’s Day weekend, but more than 16 years later, law enforcement has yet to identify a suspect or motive in the case, according to Lt. Thomas Seiver, of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.
Due to the ongoing investigation, Seiver told The Coast News the Sheriff’s Department will not be releasing any specific information related to the case, including forensic evidence, potential clues or a possible motive for the murder.
However, Seiver said investigators determined the shooting was a “targeted incident and not a random act,” but beyond that, he simply referred back to previous comments investigators made about the case.
In 2011, Sgt. Roy Frank with the sheriff’s department homicide unit told the San Diego Union-Tribune that investigators suspected the gunman, or gunmen, were likely waiting at the Robbins’ home ahead of time.
“We believe they were targeted,” Frank told the Union-Tribune. “There is no question in my mind that Sibyl was a target. I feel that she was definitely a target in this situation. … It’s possible that he [Harrison] could have been a target, too.”
At that point, investigators had unearthed some forensic evidence in the case that was “encouraging,” although Frank declined to elaborate, according to the Union-Tribune. As to a possible motive, Frank simply said that “there are a lot of theories in this case.”
Harrison, who worked as a plastic surgeon up until his wife’s death, passed away himself several years ago, according to neighbors. Over the years, there has been no shortage of theories floating around the neighborhood regarding possible motives for the murder.
“There’s been one thought that he [Harrison] may have performed plastic surgery on a member of a drug cartel from Mexico, somebody who was trying to change his appearance, and the feeling was that these people needed to get rid of any witnesses who could have identified this person,” Mike said.
Another running theory was the couple was targeted due to Harrison’s supposed financial problems and reports of litigation related to his work as a cosmetic surgeon, Jeannie said, but there is no evidence available to substantiate these claims.
Born in Montana and the oldest of 10 children, Sibyl was previously married with two kids before meeting Harrison in 1977. Together, the couple raised five children, including two children from Harrison’s first marriage and a son they had together.
“She was such a gift from God, and she was so embedded in me…It’s an incredible loss of a beautiful person who was described as elegant and lovely by everyone who knew her,” Harrison told the Union-Tribune.
Sibyl worked in the front office of Harrison’s surgical practice, Cosmetic Surgery and Liposuction Center in Mission Bay, for a number of years prior to her death and was also a regular volunteer at a Jewish temple in the community.
“We’d see her going out to get the mail in our neighborhood from time to time and we’d talk…she was a very nice lady, and they were very nice people,” Jeannie said.
The murder investigation has subsequently been transferred to the Sheriff’s Department’s Cold Case Homicide Unit. As a cold case, Seiver said detectives would likely be re-interviewing witnesses to see if any statements or details had been missed or withheld at the time of the incident.
Seiver emphasized that investigators are not giving up on the case, and are still optimistic about bringing about justice for the Robbins family despite the investigation’s longevity.
“We’ve reviewed that case recently, and although I don’t have any specifics to offer on it…I can tell you that we never forget cases, these victims are never forgotten,” Seiver said. “New technology comes up, we’re constantly reviewing the case to determine if there are any new innovations that could further the investigation, and we’re constantly cycling through to determine what new leads may come up.”
If you have any information related to the 2006 murder of Sibyl Robbins, please contact law enforcement in the following ways:
- Sheriff’s Homicide Detail – 858-285-6330 (during business hours)
- Sheriff’s Communications Center – 858-565-5200 (outside business hours)
- Crime Stoppers – 888-580-8477
- E-mail Homicide Detail
- Online Tip Form (Crime Stoppers)
Check out The Coast News’ “Daily Arrest Logs” for up-to-the-minute arrest reports in North County. Read more local crime news here. Also, visit the San Diego County Sheriff’s website for more information.
CORRECTION: Sibyl Robbins was 57 years old when she was murdered. Also, she was born in Montana but not raised there. We sincerely regret the errors.