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Tragedy In The Upstate: Details In The Case Of The Adopted SC 3-Year-Old Beaten To Death

In August, she won a Food Network show. Now, she is behind bars and accused of beating her adopted daughter to death.

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Ariel Robinson

Editor’s Note: Click here for the latest update on Ariel Robinson’s case

The tragic story of the 3-year-old Simpsonville, South Carolina girl beaten to death is sending shockwaves through the Upstate.

Jerry Austin Robinson, 34, and Ariel Robinson, 29, were both charged with homicide by child abuse in the January 14 death of her adopted daughter Victoria “Tori” Rose Smith, according to a release from the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division (SLED).

Ariel Robinson is best known for winning season 20 of “Worst Cooks in America” on the Food Network in August. According to her website, Ariel was a middle school teacher trying to make it as a stand-up comic, radio host and TV personality.

“How she does it all, we will never know!” Ariel’s website says. “Just prepare yourself for one rollercoaster ride you won’t want to get off of!”

Ariel Robinson had a podcast with her husband, who was also arrested for homicide by child abuse.

Her life as a comic and a mother was thoroughly documented on her Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, and Twitter pages where she frequently referred to herself as a mother of five.

On her Facebook page, she shared several pictures of her adopted daughter named Tori (short for Victoria).

Facebook photo of Ariel and Tori three days before her death

According to a Greenville News story, Ariel and Jerry Robinson adopted three children — two boys and a girl — in March 2020.

She announced the news of their adoption approval on Facebook in December 2019.

The December 2019 post from Ariel Robinson announcing Tori’s adoption, along with her brothers.

Ariel Robinson’s Facebook and Instagram pages show dozens of photos of 3-year-old Tori in the last year of her life.

Tori dressing up for Halloween as “Belle”
Tori days before her last Christmas

Ariel Robinson would use the hashtag #adoption and #adoptionmatters next to photos of Tori and her two brothers.

Comments on Facebook show shell-shocked friends of the family after news broke yesterday of Tori’s homicide and her parents’ arrest.

A woman on Facebook said her daughter was Tori’s foster parent before the Robinsons adopted her.

“She was the sweetest, most loving child,” she wrote. “She had the best personality. She was so witty and kept us laughing all the time…..We were happy for her because she could finally be with her two brothers and have a permanent home (even though she could have had one before she was taken away to be with this family). I am so heartsick I don’t have words.”

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What happened?

Police have released few details in the case, which was investigated by SLED.

Simpsonville Police were called to the Robinson’s home around 2:25 p.m. after a child was found unresponsive, according to multiple media reports.

The child — Victoria “Tori” Rose Smith — was taken to the hospital where she was pronounced dead.

Ariel and Jerry Robinson are accused of “inflicting a series of blunt force injuries” which caused Tori Robinson’s death on Jan. 14, according to arrest warrants in the case (see below).

HOMICIDE2

The couple was responsible for the care and welfare of the child at the time of the incident, arrest warrants said.

Ariel and Jerry Austin Robinson were taken to the Greenville County Detention Center. They were not granted bond, according to jail records.

The 13th Solicitor’s Office will prosecute the case.

Since her daughter’s death, Ariel, who typically posted several times a day, stopped posting to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. However, her YouTube Channel posted the following video on Friday, the day after her daughter’s death.

Ariel Robinson’s social media accounts have been blasted by people angry about the death of the 3-year-old.

“The baby was better off in the system… you two adopted her and killed her? Disgusting,” one person commented on YouTube.

Authorities have not released further details in the case. South Carolina Department of Social Services (SCDSS) officials told FITSNews they are aware of the incident and are investigating the case along with law enforcement.

“The agency’s standard procedures in a case like this involve taking appropriate action with any children remaining in the home after evaluating safety and risk,” SCDSS said in a statement.

We will hope to bring more details in this case in the future. Stay tuned.

To report child abuse in South Carolina, please call 1-888-CARE-4-US or use this online portal.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

Mandy Matney

Mandy Matney is the news director at FITSNews. She’s an award-winning journalist from Kansas who has worked for newspapers in Missouri, Illinois, and South Carolina before making the switch to FITS. She currently lives on Hilton Head Island where she enjoys beach life. Want to contact Mandy? Send your story ideas, comments, suggestions and tips to [email protected].

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