For years, Ken and Lois Robison struggled to cope with the death of their son Larry - even though he was still alive.
He was on death row, at the Texas state penitentiary in Huntsville. The Robisons knew when he was due to die, down the minute.
In August, as his execution drew near, Larry's sister Vickie worried about her parents. "I'm worried most about my mother because she fought so hard to save his life," she said.
The day he's executed will be the "worst day of my life," she declared.
"This has absolutely devastated this family," Vickie Robison said about the crime her brother committed 17 years ago. "In some ways it's just torn the guts out of our family."
In August, 1982, in Lake Worth, Texas, Larry Robison, then 25, killed five people. He decapitated and castrated his roomate, Ricky Bryant, and shot and stabbed four others.
That day Rhonda Kreps lost three people she loved: her mother, her sister Georgia and her 11-year old nephew, Scott. "The pain - you just don't even know the pain," she said recently.
Larry Robison's killing spree also destroyed his own family. "Things will never be the same for me or my family," said his father Ken Robison, a former schoolteacher. "I will be identified as the father of Larry Robison more than anything else."
"We're just horrified for the families of the victims," said his mother, Lois Robison, a retired teacher. "Somehow, you just feel kind of to blame somehow."
His parents did not expect their life to take this turn. They married 37 years ago and eventually raised eight children.
Larry was a "good baby," Lois Robison recalled.
"He was a good little boy, he was very smart, did very well in school, no problem whatsoever to take care of," she added.
But later his behavior changed; he used drugs. He had "severe problems," his mother said.
Before the murders, he did not seem dangerous and never had been violent, according to his mother.
At his trial Larry Robison pleaded insanity. Defense experts testified that he suffered from schizophrenia, while state experts argued that his symptoms were caused by prolonged drug abuse and that he was in full control on the day of the murders.
The jury agreed with the prosecution; Robison was found guilty and sentenced to death.
This fight took its toll.
"I'm very close to my mother," Vickie Robison said. "But she devotes so much of her time and energy to this, that it kind of puts a damper on the relationship that we could have."
Rhonda Kreps, though, wanted Larry Robison to die. "I need closure. I need him to go - go to sleep an leave me alone," she said.
Vickie Robison tried to balance her contradictory feelings. "I feel all this sympathy for the families that were also devastated by this," she said. "But the world automatically grieves for them. But what the world does not realize is that this family - this good family - is going to get nothing but spit in our face when our loved one dies."
To find out what happened, go on to Fighting To Save A Son.
Web story by David Kohn;