EVIL LIVES HERE Craig Thrift fed his cousin Terry Rouse to gators to collect a life insurance policy

At the beginning of “He Fed Him to Gators” (Episode 13, Season 10) of Evil Lives Here Robyn Barry puts a VHS videotape in to watch a night with her ex-husband, murderer Craig Thrift, from April 17, 2002. “As much as memories are nice, sometimes they hurt,” she says. As she watches the video she sees his face change in an instant, just like she remembered.

She now wants to possibly get rid of these tapes because she had been “living in limbo for so long,” and the tapes were part of her psychological suspension. “He’s not who I thought he was when I married him,” she says before she breaks down in tears from revisiting the past with Craig.

Robyn’s life before Craig

In 1985, Robyn’s life was in shambles. She had divorced her first husband, and given him custody of their children. She had grown up in Connecticut and worked as a photographer’s mate in the Navy. In 1994, Robyn wanted to live somewhere new, where there was no snow, for a fresh start. She decided to settle in small-town Georgia, and four years later she met Craig Thrift at a party. There was an instant spark between them, and he asked her for a date.

She found him to be goofy and funny and had no signs of anger or abuse. “He had us all fooled,” she says.

Warning from a friend

When Robyn and Craig got together, they would often socialize with friends after work. His friends were impressed with how happy Craig seemed to be with her, but one of his friends, Jack, warned Robyn that Craig had anger issues and was “bad news.”

Robyn dismissed Jack’s warning that Craig was “evil” and would physically abuse her because she thought Jack had a crush on her and was trying to get her to stop dating Craig for other reasons.

Craig’s first physical abuse

By Christmas Eve, however, Craig was showing signs of his angry personality. He came home in a foul mood and demanded that she make him food. She told him to make food himself, and that triggered an immediate change in Craig’s face. He grabbed her wrist and shoved her into the wall.

Robyn knows she should have left then, but he apologized and blamed his violence on being drunk. She wanted things to work out with Craig. For years, physical violence never happened again.

Still, his mask would slip again to reveal the side of him that “relished” hurting people, both physically and emotionally.

The life insurance policy

Robyn found herself worrying about money, but Craig assuaged her fears and assured her that their financial troubles would soon be solved. He told her that he and his cousin Terry Rouse had gotten life insurance policies on each other. Terry was now missing, and Craig expected Terry, who was also his best friend, to be declared dead. Terry’s death would be a windfall for Craig, and he was more concerned about money than the fact that someone close to him may be dead.

Craig explained that years prior, in 1991, Terry’s car had been found in the Okefenokee swamp without him in it. The door was open, and the car had been running until it ran out of gas. Robyn had never heard of Terry before since she had only moved into the area in 1994.

At the time, Robyn thought that maybe Terry had run away. This was a real possibility because she had run away from her life for a fresh start, so it made sense to her that someone else would do that too. The reality of what happened to Terry was much grimmer, and Craig seemed to know that. He never spoke about the possibility that his best friend could be alive, and inside always mentioned that they had “never found his body.”

Robyn still married Craig

Despite Craig’s suspicious behavior surrounding his cousin and best friend’s death, Robyn didn’t harbor any Craig suspicions about him and married him May 13, 2000. It was a fairytale wedding for Robyn, but her marriage turned into a nightmare.

Craig admits to murder

Craig mentioned Terry one night when they were watching a movie that featured a swamp. He admitted that he had put Terry in a swamp right after he murdered him. He claimed that he had killed Terry because Terry was sleeping with Craig’s wife at the time, Rhonda.

Robyn thought he was saying something outlandish just to get her reaction. He often played games like that, trying to make her believe untrue things.

Eventually, Craig started threatening Robyn with Terry’s death. One night he came home from a party in a rage at Robyn. He hurled insults at her, and told her he was gonna “put her in the swamp like Terry.” He said he was going to make her gatorbait, and no one would find her body.

Robyn saw hatred in his eyes as he told her he’d gotten away with murder for 20 years, and he could do it again. It was then that Robyn believed he had murdered Terry and she feared for her life. However, she felt she had nowhere to run.

One day, Craig asked Robyn to buy a picture frame. After she gave it to her, Craig filled it with newspaper clippings about Terry’s murder. In the older stories, Craig was named as a suspect. He was proud of the fact that they couldn’t charge him with anything because there was no body.

Craig hung the picture on the wall. Robyn would take it down, but he would put it back up. Robyn feared for her life during this time. She was sure Craig would eventually kill her.

The Green Box

Everything changed when Robyn found a green box. Craig told her she was forbidden from opening it. She suspected that the box held evidence that proved he had been involved in Terry’s death. She was too afraid to open it, so she never found out what was in it.

She did, however, find a small black gun hidden in Craig’s gun cabinet. She thought that maybe this was the gun that he planned to kill her with.

Craig took the gun out of the gun cabinet one day while Robyn was watching TV and shot it into the air outside. He then put it back. Robyn was terrified. She thought that either he had planned to kill her that night but decided not to or he had just wanted to warn her.

She picked up the gun casings outside and gave some to a friend to keep in case something happened to her. She didn’t want to be like Terry. She didn’t want Craig to get away with her murder.

One night Terry calmly walked around the house methodically unscrewing the lightbulbs. At that moment, Robyn’s adult daughter Tina called her. Robyn told her that Craig was scaring her, so Tina, who had moved nearby, told her to get out of the house and she would pick her up.

At the restraining order hearing, Robyn told the judge that she thought he was going to kill her because he had killed his cousin. Craig replied that no body was ever found. The restraining order was granted, and Robyn had two weeks to leave the house.

Tina and Robyn

Tina’s death

Robyn’s daughter Tina died the next day from a drug overdose. Robyn connects her daughter’s death to Craig because she died from the same drugs he did and she got the drugs from Craig.

The day after Tina’s death was a Sunday. Robyn went to church where Craig’s father was a deacon and informed him of Tina’s death. She watched Craig’s father call Craig and let him know. Craig’s reaction was “Good, Bitch deserved it.”

The end for Craig

Craig would stalk Robyn after her daughter’s death. She took pictures of him outside her house with a gun, but the judge claimed she couldn’t prove that was him.

A year later, detectives contacted Robyn about the statement Robyn made in court about Craig killing Terry. She told them everything she knew.

Everyone in her friend group decided to testify against Craig, and they all had the same story about how he would brag about killing Terry.

However, his wife at the time of Terry’s murder, Rhonda Thrift, testified in his favor. She claimed to be his alibi on the day Terry was last seen. She claimed that Terry had been at a nightclub with her the night of May 10, 1991, and had been too drunk to do anything but sleep after they got home. Terry was last seen in the early hours of May 11. Rhonda said that Craig did get up on May 11 in time to go to his job pouring concrete.

Craig was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. He was eligible for parole in May of 2019, which was denied. Still, Robyn worries that he will eventually get paroled and come find her.

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