Robin Doan’s story: She survived a fatal shooting by playing dead

Approximately three hours after she heard Levi King murder her entire family, a scared Robin Doan called 911 via the home’s cordless phone. Doan told the 911 operator that she wanted her mom, but Robin would never see her mom alive again. 

Robin remembered 15 shots, and police recovered 15 shell casings from the home. Levi broke into the house armed with an AK-47 and shot Robin’s stepdad, Brian Conrad, three times. He shot Molly, the family’s dog, twice, turned the gun on Doan’s mom, Michell, who was pregnant and screaming, and shot her six times. 

Somehow, King missed when he shot at Robin. His killing spree ended after shooting Zach, Doan’s brother, three times. 

After Robin saw Levi approaching her bedroom, she leaped into her covers and waited. King shot twice: one shot grazed her left leg and arm, and the other one missed. Robin groaned and fell to the floor, fooling King into believing she was dead. 

Robin remained motionless, listening to noises outside. She heard Levi rummage about in the kitchen, but she wasn’t sure whether he’d left. After a couple of hours, she decided to get out and do something. 

“I played dead for two-and-a-half hours. I was like, I can’t just lay here. I need to do something. …And so I just proceeded out the door and started dialing 911,” Doan told CBS News

First responder Chad Brook comforted Robin immediately after arriving. “He told me everything was gonna be OK,” Doan said. “They were gonna figure it out.” Robin hoped her entire family would walk out as she did, but deep down, she knew they were gone. 

Robin briefly escaped her tragic reality when feeding animals with Chad Brook. After a while, Robin snapped back into reality and asked a question she didn’t want answered. Doan explained:

“Finally, like, I kinda got the courage to just come right out and say, “Mom and Brian aren’t — aren’t gonna walk outta there, are they?” Broke the law enforcement people’s hearts when they had to tell me no, that they weren’t walking outta there; I was the only one that could walk outta there … still alive.”

Without a motive or suspect for the murders, police placed Robin under tight protection. For all they knew, the shooter could return to finish the job off. The then 10-year-old had just heard a demented killer murder her family, and now she had to attend the funeral. Robin said:

“I just remember sitting there and I would just look at one casket and I’d look at the second casket, and then I would turn and I’d look at the third casket, and I would do it all over again. …It wasn’t fair to sit there and look at that.”

Levi King stole guns from his father’s collection and embarked on a murderous rampage that claimed five lives. In Pineville, Missouri, he killed Orlie McCool and his daughter-in-law Dawn with a Smith & Wesson .9 mm gun. 

King stole a Dodge Dakota pickup from the McCool residence and headed towards the border. He was arrested trying to regain entry into the United States from Mexico. He had an outstanding warrant from Missouri, so El Paso police detained him. 

Fifteen minutes into his interrogation, he admitted to killing Orlie and Dawn. Per Don Ruby, a former McDonald County Deputy Sheriff, Levi seemed to draw immense satisfaction from shooting people. Ruby explained:

“During a conversation with Levi, he described that even hours later, he could still smell the gunpowder, the sweat, and the blood. Describing it as a feeling that – that was probably better than any drugs he’d ever done.”

A couple of weeks later, he casually admitted to murdering four people in Texas: he didn’t know Robin survived. Levi accepted a plea deal in Missouri that saved him from the death penalty. He also pleaded guilty in Texas, but with Robin’s approval, the D.A. refused to exclude the death penalty. 

“You know, I told them, ‘OK … he did this to my family. So yeah, OK, go for it,'” Doan said. At the sentencing hearing, the defense did a great job of painting Levi as a victim of an unhealthy upbringing surrounded by guns and drugs. 

Doan didn’t want to testify, but she did it for her family. She said: “I was gonna be sitting in front of a murderer … who had killed my loved ones. And to testify – I didn’t want to. But I knew that I needed to for my family’s sake … I was the only one that got to walk outta that house. They didn’t, and they needed a voice, too.”

She broke down mid-testimony, and few expected her to speak again during the trial. The death penalty requires a unanimous vote, but one juror refused voted against it. In her victim impact statement, Robin said that she’d forgiven King. Robin talked to Texas Monthly about the statement:

“I don’t know why I said what I said. Maybe I just wanted him to know that I wasn’t going to let my life be ruined by him – that I wasn’t going to let him take away the best of me. I wanted him to know my life was still going to turn out to be good, no matter what awful things he had done to me and my family.”

Doan didn’t get the outcome she wanted, but she was glad that King left Texas to live out his days in Missouri. “So I was fine with him being in Missouri because Texas is my state. …I don’t want you back in my state. You’ve already done your damage here,” Doan said. 

Robin tried to lead as normal a life as she could. She joined the cheerleading squad at Pampa High School, played basketball briefly, found local employment, and pursued relationships. The local populace waited for her to implode, but she didn’t. Doan told Texas Monthly:

“It’s like a game for them, waiting to see if I am going to mess up and have some breakdown because of what happened to me when I was ten years old. I mean, I once dyed my hair a different color, and the word spread that I was finally going off the deep end. But I’ve kept my head on my shoulders. I was raised better than that.”

The memories of that night still haunt Doan. She has occasional nightmares and wonders whether she could have done more to help her family. Doan told CBS News that the worst days are birthdays:

“Zach’s birthday, mom’s birthday, Brian’s birthday. …Even my birthday is hard because I don’t like celebrating it without them. …I just have those days where I want my mommy, or want my stepdad, or want my brother, and want things to go back to being normal and you just can’t help but burst out into tears.”

Doan’s support system consists of the law enforcement community of Pampa. They raised $10,000 to pay for junior college and always motivate Robin. 

Robin told CBS News that she’s yet to figure out her purpose in life, but she’s certain to succeed at it. She said:

“I could honestly not tell you why I was left; why I was the only one that survived. Maybe if I get married one day and have kids, if it’s to help my kids get through life or help other people in the world. I don’t know. I don’t know what my purpose is. But it’s gonna be great when it comes.”