Web of betrayal: The relationships behind the murder of a Mishawaka mom

MISHAWAKA, Ind. (WNDU) - June 12, 2018. It began like any other day.

Twenty-eight-year-old Christina Woods got her four children up and ready for school. Her mom, Mary, picked up the children because Christina was off to a job interview.

Christina was ready to start a new chapter.

"I got a call from her later in the afternoon; she got the job and was ecstatic," said Mary Robinson, Christina's mother.

Mary planned to help Christina move out of an apartment later that evening, but hours went by and Christina wasn't answering her phone.

"Something in my gut just kicked in and said something is going on," Mary said.

Days went by with no sign of Christina, except a single text message to her stepfather.

"First, that she said she needed help, and then asked him not to respond back because it was getting her into trouble," said Detective Joshua Harmon with the St. Joseph County Police Department. "There was no further text messages, and that was a clue from the beginning that something was going on."

Investigators found Christina's body buried in a shallow grave, 10 hours away from her hometown of Mishawaka.

"I cried, it was like I couldn't believe it," Mary said.

An autopsy found Christina was strangled.

"There are times I lay in bed at night, and the thoughts go through my head at night, 'Was she fighting?'" Mary said. "I can't comprehend what her last final moments would be."

Investigators were about to uncover a web of lies and betrayal that began nearly 30 years ago.

Christina was always laughing alongside her four sisters and her friend Brooke. Their friendship lasted decades, until they both fell for the same man.

Christina was getting divorced and started seeing Daniel Lynn, but a year later, Daniel married Brooke Taylor.

Then, only months after that, it was Christina who moved into an apartment with Daniel. The friendship was ruined, and a cycle of violence began.

"Dan had put her in the hospital, police were called multiple times, he was kicked out of the residence they shared," Mary explained. "She was ready to just walk away from everything."

One last phone ping led investigators to Christina's body on property owned by Daniel Lynn's family. Police immediately searched for him.

Months later, Daniel plead guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 16 ½ years in prison.

"Sixteen and a half years is not enough for someone who took a life," Mary said.

But Daniel and Christina weren't the only ones at the cabin in the Minnesota woods.

"From our investigation, Brooke was at the cabin at the time Christina died," Harmon said.

Brooke admits she was there. Still, she was only convicted of helping Daniel hide from police and sentenced to a year in jail.

"Everyone that's involved in this case has known each other for years," Mary said. "I can't help but be angry at this point, because justice has not been served for my daughter."

Daniel wouldn't speak to the family in court but mailed Mary a letter which read, in part, "I will always cherish my memories that I shared with Christina and would give anything for just one more moment."

Christina's family isn't sure they will ever know why this happened, but Mary is determined to keep her daughter's memory alive.

"When you're a mom, you do everything in your power to find justice for your child, and you don't ever give up," Mary said.

She hopes more parents will trust their instinct -- an instinct Mary says she ignored when something about Daniel never seemed right.

"I want Christina to be remembered as the fun-loving, wonderful woman that she was," Mary said. "Through her children's eyes, they'll always be remembered as that awesome mom that did so much for them."