I-TEAM: A deeper look into death of young local politician

Law enforcement ruled his death a suicide, but our I-TEAM uncovered investigators did not recover fingerprints on the gun, bullets, knife, or cell phones lying
Published: Feb. 23, 2023 at 6:41 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Law enforcement ruled his death a suicide, but our I-TEAM uncovered investigators did not recover fingerprints on the gun, bullets, knife, or cell phones lying next to Tyrique Robinson’s body.

Robinson died a week after the election and after becoming the youngest person elected to the Richmond County Board of Education.

Also perplexing, Robinson’s family discovered missing emails and texts deleted from his phone between him and his mentor after the sheriff’s office returned their son’s phone to them. Senior Investigator Liz Owens continues to investigate the death of a politician.

Robinson died a day after his mentor went public with allegations he stole money from her and their business, but messages and emails combined with court records filed after his death show there is much more to the story.

Robinson met Melissa Oden through his godmother, her hairdresser, in January of 2022.

Oden needed a driver for one of her many companies. The 20-year-old had a CDL license.

“When Ty came out of the military, he wanted to start his own business- Robinson Enterprises, he was going to do trucking transportation, and then he met her,” Kim Gowdy, Robinson’s mother says.

Documents obtained by the I-TEAM from the South Carolina Secretary of State’s Office list Oden as a 40% owner of Dream Transportation with her son, godson, and Robinson each 20% owners.

Photos and videos on Robinson’s cell phone show another side of their relationship.

Gowdy says, “They would go out to eat together. They would go on a trip together. They went out of town together.”

Including a trip to a casino in North Carolina, which ended in an assault.

In her statement to Cherokee Police, Oden says the ex-boyfriend:

Oden: “He flew all the way here from Texas because he heard she was going to be here and was bringing the young man.”

Oden stated he thought there was something sexual happening between the two of them and came to confront Robinson.

Oden sent this text to Robinson months later:

“Ty, Lanzy wants to know how much for you to write a letter not to press charges.”


“Actually, make it $10K.”

“He said that Melissa wanted him to not go forward with it. He said, ‘Mom, I got to go forward with it’,” Gowdy says.

Oden asked the District Attorney to move the date of the hearing, originally set for November 8, 2022 -election day.

On Wednesday, the day after the election, records show Oden texts Robinson:

Oden: I don’t even want to talk to your ass (beep) right now....you lied yesterday about using my credit card. It’s sad that you’re willing to ruin your reputation and possible life over lies.

On Thursday, the Board of Elections confirmed to the I-TEAM that Robinson inquired about resigning after just being elected.

On Friday, Oden texted the I-TEAM:

Oden: “I have a very important story to tell you about a newly elected official who has been stealing.”

She told the I-TEAM she would file a report with the sheriff’s office on Wednesday when she returned from out of town.

On Tuesday:

Dispatch: “911 do you need police fire or ambulance?”

Robinson’s brother found him dead.

Brother: “Over (beeping) money?!”

Oden never filed a theft report with the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office against Robinson, and the case against her ex-boyfriend in Cherokee never went to court.

Randy Frails: “She has decided it’s really not appropriate to comment on this issue in Cherokee or anything that may have hurt this young man Tyrique who is deceased-who committed suicide.”

Randolph or Randy Frails represents Oden. He also represents the agency that investigated Robinson’s death.

Before representing the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, he donated heavily to Richard Roundtree’s campaign for Sheriff.

Robinson also consulted with the Frails and Wilson attorneys law firm.

The I-TEAM obtained this email where he requested their help with an open records request to the board of education for salary information.

Liz Owens: “It seems a little confusing to me if it’s inappropriate because he is dead- why did she file paperwork in probate against his estate and family?”

Robinson’s family went to file as executors of his estate in December. They discovered Oden had filed a claim against the estate as a creditor.

Andy Frails’ name is listed as her attorney on the probate papers.

Gowdy says, “It was another sucker punch, another gut punch pouring salt on the wound doesn’t even begin to describe the anger and shock I felt at that moment.”

Oden’s filing contains claims of fraudulent financial transactions. She says Robinson made while he was alive, the same allegations she made before his death but never went to the sheriff’s office about which includes using her credit card to purchase a billboard for his campaign and an airline ticket for a friend.

The filing also contains a claim for a van registered under Robinson’s name for Dream Transportation.

Liz: “It’s just confusing to me because she had a tight relationship with him for a year but it’s inappropriate to talk about Cherokee you want the van back and it’s not like she is hurting for money.”

Frails: “Liz, let’s be clear that’s your rendition of their relationship- you just said they had a tight relationship. I never said that and I don’t think Ms. Oden had ever said that either.”

On the Austin Rhodes show, Robinson said:

“One of the things she told me is she is going to make me great, so I took the vision it was one of the best things I heard being young but did not realize it came with preposterous control.”

“I had a lot of people say your son would have changed Richmond County,” Gowdy says.

Liz: “What do you think led to his death?”

Gowdy: “I honestly don’t know. I just feel like there is more to the story.”

A month before the election and before Robinson died, his aunt tells us he began receiving threats, so much so that he called her and said he needed to move his mother and son out away from Richmond County.

We are not done digging through records and searching for the pieces of the full story surrounding the death of a politician.