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Press Release

Missing Person Investigation Results in Three Convictions and a Life Sentence

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Iowa

A man who robbed and murdered another man was sentenced today to life in federal prison.

Matthew Barrett Robbins, age 49, from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, received the prison term after a May 3, 2021 jury verdict finding him guilty of robbery affecting interstate commerce, conspiracy to commit robbery affecting interstate commerce, and using a firearm during a crime of violence resulting in a death that constitutes murder.

Evidence at trial showed that Robbins was a methamphetamine user who became unhappy with the quality of methamphetamine distributed by his source of supply.  Robbins, along with Danielle Busch and William Leo Yancey, concocted a plan to lure his drug dealer to a rural farmhouse outside of Ely.  Once at the farmhouse, Robbins used a sawed-off shotgun to rob the victim of a quarter-ounce of methamphetamine and approximately $150.  During the robbery, Robbins’ firearm discharged, killing the victim.  Robbins then took steps to dismember and conceal the body by burning it in a burn pit in his back yard.  Robbins then discarded the ashes in the Cedar River.

Robbins was sentenced in Cedar Rapids by United States District Court Chief Judge Leonard T. Strand.  Robbins was sentenced to life in prison.  He must also serve a five-year term of supervised release if ever released from prison.  There is no parole in the federal system.  While announcing sentence, Chief Judge Strand said Robbins was “the poster child for a life sentence given the facts of this case and what the jury has found in this case.  Mr. Robbins absolutely deserves a life sentence.”

Busch and Yancey were previously sentenced on September 15, 2021.  Busch was sentenced to 120 months’ and one day imprisonment.  She must also serve a five-year term of supervised release after the prison term.  Yancey was sentenced to 400 months’ imprisonment.  Yancey is currently serving a 188-month prison term for conspiring to manufacture methamphetamine and will begin serving this sentence once he finishes serving that term of imprisonment.  He must also serve a five-year term of supervised release after the prison term. 

“Matthew Robbins’ criminal conduct resulted in a tragic death.  The hard work and team effort by the law enforcement agencies involved in this investigation ensured he would be held accountable for his crimes.  Robbins earned every day of the life sentence the court imposed today,” said Acting United States Attorney Sean R. Berry.  “The United States Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners are committed to vigorously prosecuting those who mix drugs, guns, and violence.”

Robbins is being held in the United States Marshal’s custody until he can be transported to a federal prison.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Lisa C. Williams and Emily K. Nydle and was investigated by the Marion Police Department, the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation, the Linn County Sheriff’s Office, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Cedar Rapids Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Iowa City Police Department, the United States Marshals Service, the Davenport Police Department, the Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement, the Benton County Sheriff’s Office, the Cedar County Sheriff’s Office, the Madison County Sheriff’s Office, and the Daytona Beach Shores Florida Police Department.  Assistance was also provided by the Waypoint Services Survivor's Program in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. 

Court file information at

The case file number is 19-cr-53.

Follow us on Twitter @USAO_NDIA.

Updated October 18, 2021

Drug Trafficking
Violent Crime