The Mysteries of Robert Carnochan

Robert Lawson Carnochan (Mugshot)
Robert Lawson Carnochan (Mugshot)

He is in his 70s. He is Canadian. He’s an illegal immigrant, and he’s been in the United States since 1993, going under at least 18 different false identities. According to Mohave County Chief Arizona Deputy Rodney Head, his real name is Robert Lawson Carnochan. And at least three women linked to him in the past eight years have vanished. From the Kingman, AZ Daily Miner:

Verna Clayton, currently 73, was last seen with Carnochan at her Dolan Springs home in June of 2008. The last time anyone has seen Las Vegas resident Neva Lindley, currently 77, was in November, 2011. She also was last with Carnochan, who was arrested April 13 in Yucca on half a dozen forgery charges and three counts of identity theft. He has since been indicted on those charges – along with six weapons charges, including one that involves possession of a handgun with a ground-off serial number.

[Kingman resident Nancy] Hartz was 72 when she went missing last June after selling her northern Kingman home and leaving with Carnochan in his motorhome.

“He became acquainted with them the same way as Nancy Hartz,” said Head.

The Daily Miner reported that  they all met Carnochan online, through “one Internet dating site or another. ” Deputy Head and fellow investigator Scot Durst said Carnochan was simply a person of interest in the disappearances.

A fascinating wrinkle buried in the Daily Miner article was that a woman had assisted Carnochan in attempting to convince investigators seeking Nancy Hartz that she was still alive. She even agreed to a phone interview with a private investigator. She was quizzed about Hartz’s adult children and all her answers were wrong. Nancy Hartz’s children all agreed: that wasn’t their mother’s voice on the phone, either.

The woman, whom investigators indicated had moved from California to Arizona to be with Carnochan, apparently wasn’t considered culpable. Deputy Head said she’d returned to California and felt “very lucky” that Carnochan was in custody. She fit the profile of the missing women — in her 70s, single, and perhaps too suggestible for her own good.

Verna Clayton, Neva Lindley (
Verna Clayton, Neva Lindley (

In spite of both apparently considered missing for years, I couldn’t find Verna Clayton or Neva Lindley on any missing persons sites.The Daily Miner reported that their assets had been turned into cash not long after they met Carnochan.

Robert Carnochan has been at whatever he’s doing for quite some time. That’s not a big leap to make. He could be a Bluebeard, serially seducing lonely women and using whatever he steals from them to keep himself going.

It’s hard to not read the few articles published since his April 13 arrest and suspect that Carnochan’s mysteries wind across many more than just three women over the course of the last 23 years. He’s been at whatever he was doing for far too long.

The chances a wily operator like Carnochan will talk are slim. Lacking evidence, he could simply end up convicted on the forgery, identity theft and firearms charges and no one will ever know what happened to these women.

Or any of the other victims he’s surely left behind him, under his many different names.